Stuart Duffy of KDP Architects, Liverpool, was removed from the register for at least two years by the ARB’s professional conduct committee after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
The committee heard that Duffy had signed off properties as being practically complete even though he knew construction work had not finished, resulting in one complainant paying £190,000 for an uncompleted property.
As well as issuing certificates for flats in the Richmond Aparthotel in Liverpool in 2013, he had also signed off units in the Sky residential building in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2017. That building that remains unfinished.
An expert architect appointed by the ARB reported that all the properties certified by Duffy remained ‘unfit for occupation and far from complete‘, noting the ‘lack of any fire protection, missing doors, exposed steelwork and an absence of electrical or plumbing installation’.
Several investors had complained to the ARB, saying that as a result of the certification, funds had been released for building work that had never been carried out.
It was also alleged that Duffy had failed to deal with those complaints appropriately.
Duffy denied being guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, but according to the ARB, under cross-examination he had accepted that the properties had not reached the stage of practical completion and that he had acted dishonestly in certifying that they had.
He claimed, though, that the Liverpool properties had been certified only as a result of undue pressure from the developer. He told the ARB that the Newcastle-under-Lyme development had only been certified to maintain liquidity in the project and prevent the investors from losing their money.
The committee found Duffy had acted dishonestly, and was therefore guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. While the it accepted his explanation about his response to complaints, it said Duffy ‘had fallen substantially short of the conduct expected of an architect … in knowingly signing off properties as complete when he knew they were not’.
The committee said that the repetition of the ‘dishonest act in 2017’ only ‘aggravated the seriousness of the failing’ and that ‘he had chosen to appease others over his professional obligations’.
In considering sanction, the PCC said it had taken into account ‘Duffy’s previous unblemished record and co-operation with the investigation as a mitigating factor’.
Even so, the committee said, it had no option but to strike Duffy from the register given his ‘limited insight, the serious impact his actions had caused others, and the repetition of his dishonest statements over a significant period of time’.
It said he could apply to be reinstated after two years
Duffy’s actions, which reportedly cost investors tens of thousands of pounds, were the subject of a recent ITV investigation.
Source: Granada ITV News