Adverts for architects' register 'misleading'


AN ADVERTISING campaign promoting a new register of architects has been deemed misleading after the broadcasting watchdog found it implied that “unqualified” architects could not be trusted.

The register was launched last November by the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI) and the Department of the Environment. Since then, only people who are on the register are entitled to use the title “architect”.

The RIAI ran radio advertisements promoting the register, which asked listeners whether they would trust an unqualified surgeon or dentist, adding: “So why trust an unqualified architect?”

The advertisements prompted complaints to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) by the Architects’ Alliance, representing people who have been providing architectural services but who do not have formal qualifications in architecture. It claimed the ads created a false link between being qualified and being on the register. Another complainant, Tom O’Grady, said he had lost two clients because of the “misleading” content in the advertisements.

The BAI’s compliance committee accepted the advertisements appeared to be factually accurate, but held that they gave the impression that an unregistered architectural service was not qualified and not to be trusted.

The committee upheld the two complaints and ordered RTÉ, which broadcast the advertisements, to air a statement on the decision.

However, its decision has provoked an angry response from the RIAI, which claims it was based on a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the legislation under which the register was set up.

“It is entirely legitimate to say that the public is entitled to trust a qualified architect on the register, and it does seem that in the considerations of the BAI this point has been missed,” said RIAI director John Graby in a letter to the authority.

Mr Graby has also complained about the lack of an appeal mechanism to the BAI’s decision, and the “undue reliance” the authority placed on the information supplied by complainants. While the BAI has advised that its decisions can be appealed in the courts, Mr Graby said this option was too expensive to pursue.