Architects Act 1997

Architects Act 1997

Infobox UK Legislation
short_title=Architects Act 1997
parliament=Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
long_title=An Act to consolidate the enactments relating to architects.
statute_book_chapter=1997 Chapter 22
introduced_by=UK Government
territorial_extent=England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
royal_assent=19 March 1997
commencement=21 July 1997
amendments=(1) The Architects' Qualifications (EC Recognition) Order 2002, Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 2842; (2) The Architects (Professional Conduct Committee) Amendment Order 2004, Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 655
From 21 July 1997, the governing Act for the keeping and publication of the statutory Register of Architects by the Architects Registration Board has been the Architects Act 1997 with the long title:: "An Act to consolidate the enactments relating to architects."

The unbroken continuity from the originating Act of 1931 to the consolidating Act of 1997 is shown by paragraph 19(2)(a) of Schedule 2 in the 1997 Act:

: "the Council" means the Architects' Registration Council of the United Kingdom established under the 1931 Act, which was renamed as the Board by section 118(1) of the 1996 Act."

However the Architects Registration Board (ARB) now has limited powers to make rules in the manner prescribed by the Architects Act 1997, but it no longer has the power to make regulations which had previously been ascribed when it was constituted as the Architects' Registration Council of the United Kingdom (ARCUK).

tatutory purpose

The Act embodied previous legislation consequent upon EU Directives concerning the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in EU Member States and other EEA States, and certain changes which had been made to the previous legislation after the publication of the Warne Report in 1993.

For the purpose of ascertaining the duties and functions which the Architects Registration Board is required to execute and perform under the Architects Act 1997, the constraints on the Board include the requirements judicially applicable in the name of administrative law.

In May 2006 ministerial responsibility for the ARB was transferred from the ODPM to the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government). The DCLG website shows that of "four categories" of "Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs)" the ARB was being classified (at the end of May 2007) as one of two "Public Corporations", the other one being the Audit Commission, a body of entirely different political and legislative origin, function and capacities, so that the two have practically nothing in common. The website there briefly described the ARB as:: "The independent statutory regulator of all UK registered architects which has a dual mandate to protect the consumer and to safeguard the reputation of architects".That appears to have been more a politically advised than a factual statement, in that it lacks congruity with an ordinary or accurate reading of the legislation enacted by Parliament (see footnote and further information below).

Changes: before and after July 1997

The previous legislation had enabled and required the Register of Architects to be established, maintained and published; and for that purpose there had been a Council, called the Architects' Registration Council of the United Kingdom (ARCUK), which had been established as a body corporate by the originating Act, namely the Architects (Registration) Act, 1931.

The changes embodied in the consolidating Act of 1997 had first been enacted in Part III of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. The changes had been made on the basis of a government consultation document dated 19 July 1994 which the Department of the Environment had issued with the title "Reform of Architects Registration". The consultation document had set out fourteen proposals for reform, stemming from a request from ARCUK to the Government in 1992 that the Architects Registration Acts should be reviewed; and stated that a report on the review which had been carried out had been published by HMSO in 1993. The report had been made by Mr E J D Warne, CB, and is commonly known as "The Warne Report".

The legislation which followed carried the proposed purposes into effect only in part. In the consultation document the purpose of the reformed body was stated to be: setting criteria for admission to the Register; preventing misuse of the title "architect"; and the discipline of unprofessional conduct, and the setting of fee levels. To that end, fourteen proposals had been enumerated. Some were later abandoned; and others substantially altered, whether in the Bill which was presented to Parliament or in its passage through Parliament, including:

* that the reformed Board would be given statutory authority to make regulations consistent with the provisions of the legislation governing architects registration;
* that the reformed Board would publicise a statement of the criteria for disciplinary offences; and
* that in disciplinary cases, there would be a range of non-monetary penalties, and hearings would be before a small statutory committee composed of both architects and non-architects, with a right to appeal to the full Board.

Proposals mentioned in the consultation document which were later enacted and are now operative were:

* that ARCUK would remain as a legal entity, but, with no impact on its role or status, the name would be changed to "Architects Registration Board" (ARB);
* that there should be an office of Registrar whose functions would be to maintain the Register and carry out the instructions of the Board;
* that the Board would be made up of 8 lay members appointed by the Government, and 7 architects elected by registered architects; and
* that the Board of Architectural Education would be abolished, by reason of it being an unwieldy body which would be unnecessary for fulfilling the functions of the reformed Registration Board.

The Table of Derivations, set out at the end of the Act after Schedule 3, by showing the changes which had been made by the 1996 Act to the originating Act of 1931 (as it had by then been amended by the 1938 Act and other legislation), distinguishes them from the provisions which were in the legislation before the 1996 Act, and so were operative in the time of ARCUK and have remained operative from 21 July 1997, when the reconstituting changes took effect.

made in June 2008 by Statutory Instrument established rules for the recognition of professional qualifications enabling migrants from the European Economic Area or Switzerland to register as architects in the United Kingdom. It also set out provisions for facilitating temporary and occasional professional services cross-border.


The Table of Derivations also shows that certain definitions which were inserted for the purpose of the consolidation included one to make clear that where there is a reference to "unacceptable professional conduct", it has the same meaning as it has in section 14 (not "vice versa"): in section 14(1) the phrase is expanded as "conduct which falls short of the standard required of a registered person".


Under the legislation, the registration body has been a statutory corporation from its inception, first as a Council of numerous persons nominated mainly by professional bodies under the 1931 Act, and, from July 1997, as a Board of fifteen persons, of which the majority has been appointed by the Privy Council in the manner prescribed by paragraph 3(1) of Schedule 1 of the Act, that is: : "...after consultation with the Secretary of State and such other persons or bodies as the Privy Council thinks fit, to represent the interests of users of architectural services and the general public", [In May 2006 the Prime Minister Mr Blair arranged for ministerial responsibility for the Architects Registration Board to be transferred from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to a newly formed Department which was to be called "Comunities and Local Government" (DCLG) and to be headed by a Secretary of State Ruth Kelly, to whom the Prime Minister addressed [ a letter] setting out what was required. This Department has an [ official website] which has published the Prime Minster's letter and states its vision to be of "prosperous and cohesive communities, offering a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for all". The website also has [ a page] for describing the Architects Registration Board where it offers an unreliable summary of the effect of the legislation, in that it has a thread of inaccuracy in three out of four sentences, namely:
* stating that ARB "succeeded" ARCUK, when the legislation has expressly stated that it is the same body but with another name as from July 1997;
* stating that it was established to guarantee the professional competence of architects to consumers, when this cannot be the case in that ARB has neither the legal powers nor the funds to honour any such guarantee; and
* that all architects must be registered by ARB in order to practise legally in the United Kingdom, when in fact an architect, or any other person, is free to perform or supply the services of an architect subject only to the restrictions on the use of the vernacular word "architect" contained in the legislation first enacted by Parliament in the 1938 Act.
] .Members of the general public clearly have an interest to the extent that the legislation makes it a criminal offence to infringe the restrictions placed upon the freedom of individuals (including qualified architects), and of firms and partnerships, and companies and corporations of all kinds, to use the word "architect".

From the 1880s, it has been a moot point whether the effect of such registration and protection of the title "architect" would be to place an undue burden on the profession for too little benefit for the public, or to confer an unfair advantage on the profession, or one section of it, as against competitors. But in more recent decades the statutory Register of Architects and the protection of the title "architect" under the legislation has been affected by the obligation of the Government to secure compliance with obligations in connection with membership of the European Union and the European Economic Area. This has brought in its train questions about the criteria and standards for deciding upon equivalence of professional qualifications in EU and EEA countries, and the legitimate expectations of those who have qualified.

Footnote - Secretary of State:

External links

* [ Architects Act 1997]
* [ The Rt Hon Tony Blair, former Prime Minister]
* [ About the DCLG]
** [ Letter from the Prime Minister to Ruth Kelly, 9 May 2006]
** [ Non-Departmental Public Bodies] (NDPBs)
** [ The Architects Registration Board]
* [ Parliamentary Stages of a Government Bill - see page 8 for Consolidation Bills]

For further information, see also

*Architects (Registration) Acts, 1931 to 1938
*Architects Registration in the United Kingdom
*Architects Registration Board
*Architects' Registration Council of the United Kingdom
*Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996
*Reform of Architects Registration

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