Public urged to check registers after man fined for saying he was an architect

RIAI and SCSI welcome court judgment against man who misrepresented himself

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) have welcomed a recent court judgment against a man who misrepresented himself as an architect and as a surveyor.

In the case of the RIAI v William Doran, which began on March 12th, 2020, Mr Doran (also known as Bill), of St Mary’s Road in Ballsbridge, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to two separate charges of unlawfully using the title “architect”. Judge Marie Quirke convicted him of both charges and, noting Mr Doran’s previous conviction (in 2015) under the Building Control Act 2007 for the misuse of the title “architect”, she fined him €3,000 for each of the two offences. The case was finalised last Thursday, July 1st.

According to the RIAI, under section 18 of the Act it is illegal for anyone to describe himself or herself as an architect, or to practise or carry on business under a name containing the word “architect”, when not registered with the RIAI as an architect.

Frank Turvey, registrar of the RIAI, told The Irish Times the institute hoped the court’s decision would deter others who deliberately mislead or “hoodwink” the public about their education, training and professional credentials which, between a five-year degree, two years’ work experience and a professional practice exam, take eight or nine years to accrue and must be maintained with annual continuing professional development.

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Mr Turvey said the title was registered in November 2009, at which point 2,200 people qualified for registration and others who had been practising in related disciplines were given the opportunity to prove their eligibility by taking the architects’ register admission exam and being “grandfathered” on to the register.

He said there were 3,257 people on the register and that the institute wanted to encourage people to comply with the legislation, that it “gives every opportunity for those who are found to be misusing the title” to comply with it, as in this case, and that prosecution was a last resort.

In correspondence with two local authorities, Mr Doran’s letterhead reads “William Doran (TechIEI) Architect, Planning and Project Management Consultant, Land and Building Surveying, Fire Safety Consultant, Registered Building Energy Assessor”.

Mr Doran was also convicted last week of a charge of representing himself as a building surveyor while not having satisfied the requirements for registration, and was fined €1,500. As the registration body for professional surveyors, it was the SCSI’s first such prosecution and conviction under the 2007 Act and it was, said Mr Turvey, taken jointly with the RIAI as it related to the same planning application (a prosecution must be taken within six months of the offence).

Gwen Wilson, the SCSI registrar, said Mr Doran’s actions had “potentially grave consequences” for people who, when employing a building or quantity surveyor, “expect that person to have acquired . . . the required level of skill, knowledge, and competence to practise in Ireland” and she urged consumers always to check that the person is registered with the SCSI before engaging them.

Similarly, Mr Turvey recommended people always to ensure that an architect is registered with the RIAI, and thus governed by its code of conduct, saying that a business offering “architectural services” might not employ architects as per the disciplines listed in the Act.

Professional fees are not small, but who wants to spend money on a job that might not comply with the Building Control Management System, so that commencement notices, certificates of compliance and other statutory requirements could not be furnished? Few professionals would be delighted about signing off a project for someone trying to sell their property if they hadn’t been involved in it.