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Should protection of title be abolished?

Piece for BD debate slot: 26.11.07

Richard Saxon.

Protection of title supposedly exists to protect the public from unqualified practitioners, yet the Architects Act does not allow ARB to pursue plan-drawers who call themselves ‘architectural consultants’, nor those who claim to offer the service of ‘architecture’. Now we also have the situation where European Union graduates of variable quality can become registered in the UK without passing Part 3 as all UK graduates have to do. The only guarantee the public has of competence in an architect is the standard of Chartered Architect, and for practices that of the Chartered Practice.  This title is protected by Royal Charter and means that the architect has Part 3 and keeps up to date via CPD. For practices it means that they have basic quality, health and safety and employment standards and that all work is supervised by a chartered architect.  Nearly 80% of all UK architects are chartered already, and a higher proportion of principals in practice. Protection of title adds nothing for them.

UK architects have no protection of function, nor is it ever likely to happen in this country. Even so, the new CIC survey shows that we earn fees equivalent to 3% on every pound spent on construction today, including repairs, civil works and housebuilding. We are employed because we add value, not because of a title. Chartered Surveyors have made those two words stick together in everyone’s mind; Chartered Architect is all the title we need.

Richard Saxon CBE is a client Adviser and a former chairman of BDP.

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