Complaint About An Architect?
If things go wrong, the first thing you should do is talk to your architect so that they understand that there's something amiss that they need to correct. Also, under our Professional Code of Conduct, architects are expected to have their own in-house procedures for dealing with complaints.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) was set up by Parliament to regulate architects in the Uganda. Our powers are governed by the Architects Act 1996. One of our duties is dealing with complaints about an architect’s conduct or their ability to do their job – their competence. This section describes how we handle complaints about architects.
According to Section 16 Of the Architects Registration Act,
- A complaint or an allegation against an architect which if proved would constitute professional misconduct may be made to the disciplinary committee by the board or any person.
- Upon receipt of a complaint, the secretary shall, as soon as practicable, refer the matter to the committee, and the committee shall fix a date for the hearing of the complaint.
- The disciplinary committee shall give the architect against whom the complaint or allegation is made an opportunity to be heard and shall furnish him or her with a copy of the relevant document at least seven days before the date fixed for the hearing.
What sort of complaint against an architect can you investigate?
We can investigate your complaint if it is about an architect on our Register and if it concerns that architect’s conduct or competence in relation to the standards in the Architects Code of Conduct. We treat all complaints fairly and we don’t charge for investigating them.
Sometimes, complaints are about issues that we don’t have the powers to deal with - and then you may wish to try other solutions.
What is the Code of Conduct?
The Architects Code of Conduct is not a set of rules that architects must follow, but guidance for architects in their professional lives. We wouldn’t automatically take disciplinary action against an architect if they fell below the standards, but we would look to see whether their actions amounted to unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence. These are the two ‘offences’ that the Architects Act says we can investigate.
Aspects of complaints beyond ARB’s powers
Because we have to work in line with the Architects Act, there are some aspects of complaints that we are unable to deal with – though we will always try to give you helpful advice. For example, we can’t:
- Order your architect to put right something which has gone wrong, or award compensation for poor service. Only the courts can award compensation
- Become involved in disputes about a contract or fee levels, or decide whether your architect may have been negligent. These are legal issues and must be dealt with through the courts.
- Deal with complaints about matters that are covered by general law (for example, employment, criminal activity or copyright disputes)
- Investigate complaints that are more than six years old, unless there are special circumstances
- Intervene in a planning dispute
- Give you legal advice about your complaint, or ask a solicitor to act for you
Other solutionsIf we are unable to investigate your complaint, you may want to consider whether there are alternative methods for resolving your dispute. Court action
In a serious dispute where you and your architect have been unable to reach an agreement, you may consider taking legal action. If this is the case, you might want to take legal advice to find out what your options are. Only courts can award compensation.
Also according to Section 20(1) of the Architects Registration Act, An architect or complainant aggrieved by the decision or order of the disciplinary committee may appeal against the decision or order to the High Courtwithin three months from the date on which the report of the committee is delivered to that architect or complainant.
What do I need to consider before sending you a complaint?
Before sending us a complaint, you should try to sort out your concerns directly with your architect first. This is often the quickest and best way to deal with a complaint or problem.
Checklist if complaining directly to an architect
- Check what was said in writing about roles and responsibilities at the beginning of your project. Check also the terms and conditions of the contract or agreement that your architect drew up - this may help to settle a dispute
- Put your complaint in writing so that both you and your architect have a record of your concerns
- Set out the details of your complaint as clearly as you can
- If you have more than one complaint, list them and give them numbers
- Ask who will deal with your complaint, and how long it is likely to take
- Make notes of any meetings that you have, and keep copies of any letters you send to your architect
- Tell your architect what you would like them to do to settle your complaint (but please understand that your architect might not be able to do what you ask)
How do I go about making my complaint to you?
Please send us details of your complaint in writing – by email or post – or fill in our online complaints form (Download Complaints From here). Also you can call us on our office phones listed on our Contact Us page. See below for the information we need.
Information we need
When writing to us about a new complaint, please provide:
- your name, address and contact details;
- the name and address of the individual architect you are complaining about;
- your relationship with the architect (for example client, contractor or employee);
- the specific allegations you are making against the architect;
- the documents or other evidence you have to support your complaint (for example, any contract or agreement, relevant correspondence, and so on)
What action can you take?
After full investigation, if we find that an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence, we can impose a penalty. This will depend on how serious we decide the offence is.
What are the penalties?Possible penalties are:
- that the architect be admonished (reprimand);
- that the practicing certificate of the architect be suspended for a specified period not exceeding two years;
- that the architect pay a fine that may be determined by the committee;
- that the architect pay compensation that may be determined by the committee to any person who may have suffered a loss as a result of the misconduct;
- that the name of the architect be struck off the register.
How long does the whole process take?
It can take many months to investigate a complaint, especially if it is complicated or technical. We will let you know how long each stage is likely to take, and keep you updated of any changes to those timescales.
Is the process confidential?
When we deal with a complaint, we are committed to protecting the confidentiality and reputation of both sides. We make a complaint public only if it reaches a Professional Conduct Committee hearing. We ask that both you and the architect have the same respect for confidentiality.
What can I do if I’m not happy with your response or service?
We are committed to providing a high-quality, professional service to everyone who contacts us. If something goes wrong, please tell us and we will do everything we can to sort out your concerns.