COMPLAINTS AND Discipline INFORMATION FOR ARCHITECTS

The NZRAB has a number of legally prescribed functions under section 50 of the Registered Architects Act 2005.  One of the functions is to receive, investigate, and hear complaints about, inquire into the conduct of, and discipline, registered architects. 

The primary purpose of occupational regulatory legislation in New Zealand, is to protect the public.  The NZRAB is an occupational regulatory Board, much like, for example, the NZ Medical Council and Nursing Council.  It is not the architects professional body, which is Te Kāhui Whaihanga/ New Zealand Institute of Architects.

CONTENTS

PART 1 is about the architectural concerns process, complaints, and competence concerns

PART 2 is about cautionary notes issued by the Board and disciplinary decisions

The NZRAB Executive is available to answer any questions that architects may have about any of the following information, 04 471 1336.

PART 1

There are three processes provided by NZRAB for the public, which architects need to know about, as they are how the Board delivers to the public on the Board function detailed above.  They are:

A. an architectural service concerns process
B. a complaint process
C. a competence review process

A. Architectural service concerns

This service attempts to try and facilitate a solution between architects and clients, that both parties are happy with.  The NZRAB has a panel of senior architects (the facilitators) who provide this service.  This is an informal service, not mediation, or arbitration, there will be no formal enforceable ruling from this service. 

Note 1: At any time during this process, the client may decide to end the process, and instead send in a complaint form or competence form. This is legal right under the Registered Architects Act.

Note 2: The NZRAB does not provide to clients,  (1) legal advice, (2) insurance advice, or (3) opinions on the work of an architect.

B. Complaints

A member of the public can under the Registered Architects Act 2005, lay a complaint against an architect or former architect.  The NZRAB cannot accept complaints against architect practices.  Complainants typically indicate that they think the architect has practised in a negligent or incompetent manner, and if applicable, they identify which code of ethics rule or rules, they think the architect has breached.

If you are the subect of a complaint, in summary, the following key process steps will be followed:

  • You will be sent the complaint and invited to respond. 
  • An Investigating Panel of two registered architects, chaired by a lay person, will investigate. You will be given the names of the panel members.
  • Any information received from one party is shared with the other.
  • The panel may seek additional information through the investigation process.
  • The panel will prepare a report for the Board, and may include a recommendation that grounds exist for discipline, or that grounds do not exist for discipline.
  • If the Board agrees that there are gound for discipline it will then receive sibmissions on penalty, costs, and publication.

It will be upsetting to know that a complaint against you has been sent to the Board. Please co-operate with the Investigation Panel as best you can, and respect the process.  The process is designed to be fair and transparent for both parties. The timeframe for completing investigations varies greatly, depending on the allegations in the complaint requiring investigation, and the amount of evidential material to be analysed by the panel.  As a very rough guide, an investigation can take around six months, but occasionally 12 months or more.

Below is some general advice which should help you to prepare to participate efficiently and effectively in the investigation process.

  • If the complaint involves a project, check that your office project file (hard copy and electronic) is up-to-date and documents are orderly, so you can be clear about what happened, and locate evidence to provide to support your position
  • Take time working out the best way to respond to the allegations made in the compaint and, if relevant, take advice.
  • Include a timeline of events from the time you first met the complainant.
  • Attach copies of documents that support your position.  Include as a matter of course, the terms of engagement, and the client’s brief.
  • Have your response to the complaint peer reviewed by a colleague, and/or your lawyer.

The Board has a document called Guidance on Disciplinary Procedures.   This document is intended to be read in conjuction with the Registered Architects Act 2005 and Registered Architects Rules 2006.  The Act and the Rules remain the primary legal foundation information about the NZRAB complaints process.

Registered Architects Act 2005

Registered Architects Rules 2006

C. Competence review

The Board also provides a service for the public to raise a concern, where they think an architect is generally not competent or no longer safe to practice. The basis for this may be a project or number of projects, where issues have given concern to the member of the public.

The NZRAB has an established competence review process, typically used every five years for competence reviews of architects available, to check an architect’s competence.  This could result in the architect having their registration suspended or cancelled, or the architect could be found to be competent. 

The NZRAB Executive will inform you by email about what you are required to do, throughout the proceseses above.  The NZRAB Executive is available to answer any questions that architects may have about any of the above information 04 471 1336.

PART 2

Historical reference information for architects

Cautionary Notes
Where the NZRAB becomes aware of ethical or other issues of concern, Cautionary Notes are issued to assist architects, as below.  This is standard practice with NZ occupational regulation authorites, as the public expects orgnisations like the NZRAB, to be updating practitioners about professional matters.

Cautionary Note 1: Unethical Behaviour

Cautionary Note 2: Ethical Marketing

Cautionary Note 3: Confidentiality Agreements

Cautionary Note 4: Terms of Appointment

Cautionary Note 5: Service Ethic

Cautionary Note 6: Providing Professional Services

Cautionary Note 7: Ethics and Honesty

(Note: Cautionary Note No 8 has been withdrawn)

Cautionary Note 9: Avoiding Inducements

Cautionary Note 10: Checking certificates of title and providing services in accord with the agreement for services

Cautionary Note 11: Wrongfully taking employers' intellectual property

Cautionary Note 12: Designing to the client's budget

Cautionary Note No 13: Advising the client of a provider change and obtaining agreement from the client to that change

Disciplinary Decisions
A list of the NZRAB Board's disciplinary decisions can be accessed here.