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United Kingdom

Architect (United Kingdom)

  • Proportionality information

    1. Have you examined whether the requirements under your national legal system are
    directly or indirectly discriminatory on the basis of nationality or residence?
       Yes on an ongoing basis. We have discovered no evidence of any discriminatory effect under the operation of the UK’s legal system. Statutory requirements and their operation follow closely the requirements of the Directive. The number and proportion of European qualified architects has risen substantially. When the 1985 Architects’ Directive was implemented by ARCUK, the ARB’s predecessor, ARCUK recorded 116 EU applications from March 1988 until the end of that year . By the end of 1989, that total had risen to 190. Following the introduction of the PQD in 2008, ARB registered almost 600 European architects that year: we assume the ‘spike’ in numbers reflects the transposition of the Directive in the UK. In 2009, just under 400 EU architects joined the register, and in 2013 over 500 joined. National registration levels the playing field between architects of different nationalities by providing consumers with a single recognisable and accessible assurance of a common minimum standard. ARB’s primary legislation is light touch in the form of the Architects Act 1997. Many requirements are implemented through rules and policies on which the Board may decide. Thus, ARB is able to make relatively quick changes where necessary in response to marketplace and stakeholder demands. As a sectoral profession, there are however requirements which arise under Title III Chapter III of Directive 2005/36/EC over which Member States have no discretion: UK legislation transposes one such requirement for migrants making use of the Directive to be ‘Directive-rights nationals’ – i.e. a national of a Member State or a person covered by Directive 2004/38/EC. Those who are not Directive-rights nationals cannot rely on s.4(2A) of the Act (the European Route) but may make an application under s.4(1) of the Act (the equivalence route).

    2. Which of the following overriding reasons relating to the general interest justifies the measure(s)?
    • Protection of consumers and recipients of services

    3. What specific risks or benefits have you identified that your measure(s) is designed to, respectively, minimise or maximise?

       Please try to be specific in describing the nature of the risks/benefits you have identified
       Where you have selected more than one overriding reason relating to the general interest in question 2 please be sure to address each of these in your response. Wherever possible please include evidence.

       There is a risk that a pool of properly qualified professionals is not readily identifiable and available to consumers for projects which require such qualifications. There is a clear public interest in buildings being safe and in the built environment being properly designed and constructed. Statutory regulation ensures that where new buildings are commissioned or existing buildings altered, there is a regulated and accredited group of professionals available with the appropriate technical expertise to ensure the safety of the built environment. In addition, prescribing robust mandatory minimum standards in qualifications ensures that technical standards are maintained. This complements other regulation of the built environment but provides additional assurance to those consumers who consider it appropriate. Consumers clearly value the availability of information listing accredited individuals even though services are available if they chose from non-accredited providers. Architects clearly believe that registration provides a benefit in differentiating them from unqualified providers of architectural services to justify the cost of registration. Removing statutory regulation, and in particular the code of conduct, is likely to result in lower standards of conduct and therefore more disputes between architects and their clients. This would increase costs for consumers, architects and the court system. The registration of Directive Rights Nationals provides assurance to consumers who might otherwise be unfamiliar with European qualifications when purchasing services. It therefore facilitates the freedom of movement.

    4. How specifically do your measures operate to minimise the risk(s) or maximise the benefit(s) identified in question 3?

       When addressing this question please try to explain how the measures prevent the risks or guarantee the benefits.
       Where you have selected more than one overriding reason relating to the general interest in question 2 please be sure to address each of these in your response. Wherever possible please include evidence.

       Regulation of the title architect is paramount to consumer choice, allowing potential users of architects to differentiate between architects and non-architects. Without regulation of title any individual or practice would be free to use the title architect, regardless of qualifications or experience. Only those who have secured appropriate qualifications are able to obtain access to the UK Register of Architects. In the context of the EU harmonisation of professional qualifications, statutory regulation assists the movement of UK registered architects to other states. It should be noted that most EU member states have statutory regulation of architects, and many have reservation of architectural activities. The importance of the Register to the public (and the profession) is demonstrated by the fact that the online Register is searched nearly 29,000 times every month and is accessible 24 hours a day by the public. Architects’ contact details are updated on a regular basis to ensure information on the Register is accurate and reliable for the public.

    5. In so far as you are able, please provide information that you have gathered regarding the concrete effects of the measure(s).

       For example, through impact assessments or information gathered during implementation or review of a measure. Member States who have recently undergone reforms may in particular be able to contribute helpfully to this field. Where you are able to provide cost-benefit analyses this would be particularly valuable.
       Information on whether the measures indeed successfully prevented risks from being realised (e.g. the number of sanctions imposed, a drop in transgressions since the measure was introduced or consequences from previous modifications of the regulation) would equally be helpful.
       Where you have selected more than one overriding reason relating to the general interest in question 2 please be sure to address each of these in your response. You may also wish to include evidence on consumer satisfaction or other measurements of the impact.

        The perceived disadvantages of statutory regulation are the costs and administrative burdens placed on architects. The costs and administrative burdens of the current regulatory regime are relatively modest and proportionate to the risks which regulation seeks to address. For the reasons given above, it is difficult to see how the same functions could be carried out more efficiently or effectively by alternative means, although ARB is committed to evaluating its approach and continuously seeks to identify improvements. All UK-qualified registrants are required to undertake a qualification (‘Part 3’) which covers a breadth of requirements essential to the formation of a UK architect, and guaranteeing the high standards of competence and professional knowledge that are expected by users of architects’ services. The knowledge, skills and aptitudes assured following Part 3 may be viewed at: These skills effectively equip UK architects for independent practice. This is evidenced by a notably low number of complaints leading to Professional Conduct Committee referrals. During 2008-2010, 44 cases were heard by ARB’s PCC and during 2011-2013, 66 cases were heard even though the Register included approximately 34,000 architects in that period. The ARB works to raise public awareness of the Register in order to enable users and potential users of architects’ services to make informed choices. ARB uses a range of communications tools to inform consumers and clients about ARB and the online Register including building a social media presence; liaising with local authorities to encourage them to link to the ARB’s website; placing articles in the local press and trade publications and exhibiting at national homebuilding and design exhibitions. The impact of these efforts are visible in terms of overall numbers for visitors to the ARB website which increased by almost 20% in the six months (from January to June 2014), compared to the previous six months (July to December 2013). Searches of the online Register itself also continue to grow over time.

    6. Is the general interest objective you indicated in question 2 pursued in a consistent and systematic manner?.

       In approaching your response to this question please consider examples where you have addressed similar risks for comparable professions, not necessarily within the same sector. Is the approach you have adopted in this particular profession comparable or distinct from such similar cases and why?

       The UK regulates relatively few professions, and the methodology of title protection is commonplace within those that are regulated. When considering ARB’s comparable ‘sectoral’ regulators, access to these other professions are primarily based on prescribed or recognised qualifications, and on-going practice is then governed by a code of conduct. An independent statutory regulator distinct from professional bodies is able to enforce mandatory minimum standards applicable to all UK architects, in a proportionate and cost-effective way. Separating the role of regulation from representation allows both elements to be delivered without there being (or giving the perception of there being) a conflict of interest. It allows the professional body and independent regulator to provide a distinct but complementary service to the profession and the public respectively. This is the model more recently provided by Parliament for most of the major professions in the UK, e.g. pharmacists and solicitors.

    7. Please explain in how far the degree of complexity or the nature of the activities
    which are reserved justify that these activities can be exclusively performed by professionals possessing a specific professional qualification?

       For example: when the tasks are essentially of a straightforward nature (such as preparing and printing pay slips etc.), or involve essentially the execution of instructions, specific professional aptitudes should not be required.

       There are no activities reserved for architects alone within the UK.

    8. Where you have indicated several measures in place in the screening tab,
    have you reviewed the cumulative effect of all these measures on professional activities?

       If not, why not?
       If yes, please outline for us how you approached assessing this issue as well as the results and conclusions or any learning you drew from this. Where possible please include evidence.

       UK Government is committed to reviewing a number of UK public bodies, including the ARB, at a suitably regular interval. The last review of the Architects Registration Board took place in 2010, and a review is under way at the present time. Government stated in its call for evidence at the outset of the present review: The Architects Registration Board was last reviewed as part of the Cabinet Office Public Bodies Reform Programme in 2010, and then a commitment to undertake a further review in 2014 was set out in the Department for Communities and Local Government-/-Architects Registration Board Framework Agreement. Periodic Reviews use the Cabinet Office guidance on triennial reviews as a starting point and are intended to review the form and function of Public Corporations, the appropriateness of the body’s delivery mechanism and its governance arrangements. The two principal aims for the Periodic Review are: * To provide a robust challenge of the continuing need for individual Public Corporations covering both their functions and their form, in this case considering whether or not it is in the public interest to continue regulating the architects’ profession. * Depending on the outcome of the initial challenge to consider the most appropriate model for architects’ regulation. If statutory regulation remains an option to then consider the control and governance arrangements for this. When ARB’s activities were last assessed in 2010, they were found to be proportionate.

    9. Have you considered the use of alternative mechanisms to achieve your objective(s)?
    • Other, please specify

       Please briefly explain. Where you have selected more than one option, please be sure to address each of these in your response.

       The majority of the mechanisms cited above are matters for UK Government, and form part of the periodic review noted in section 8 above. However, ARB will be reviewing its qualification requirements as part of a planned review of its routes to registration scheduled for 2015: this will also take account of broadening access to the profession.

    10. Conclusion

       Following your internal examination of this regulated profession, which of the following have you concluded?

    •    Maintain current system

       Explain where relevant:

       As stated above, it is difficult to see how the same functions could be carried out more efficiently or effectively by alternative means, although the UK and ARB are committed to evaluating its approach and continuously seeks to identify improvements.

    11. Any other comments?
       If statutory regulation were to be removed, a number of ARB’s functions would still need to be provided by an alternative organisation (such as the Competent Authority function for the purposes of EU legislation), which could in turn increase costs for the profession. Any additional financial burden on the profession could lead to barriers to economic growth.
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