CIAT, under its Royal Charter, has an obligation to investigate any complaint/s made against its members in an impartial manner, regardless of their geographical location.

Who can make a complaint?

Anybody can make a complaint if you consider that they have acted unprofessionally. These could include, for example, a client, employee, employer, fellow member or any third party.

Can a complaint be raised against me if the complainant is not my client?

Yes. Anyone can make a complaint if they consider there is an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct.

What is the complaints procedure?

The complaints procedure is a mechanism that allows individuals to make a formal complaint against a member who may have acted unprofessionally. Full details can be found here.

How is a complaint made?

A complaint is made by the complainant using the complaint procedures which can be found here.

I have been told that a complaint is going to me made against me, what should I do?

You should contact the Practice Department (practice@ciat.org.uk), in writing, to ensure compliance with Clause 8a) of the Code of Conduct which requires you to notify the Institute of any alleged breaches. A notice will be placed on your membership file. Should a formal complaint be received at a later date, you will be contacted and given the opportunity to respond. We advise that you use your best endeavours to assist in the investigation of the complaint, as per Clause 8b) of the Code of Conduct.

I have been told by my client they may be making a claim against the practice, what do I do?

You must notify your professional indemnity insurers regarding any potential claim, in writing. If you consider this may also lead to a potential complaint, you should contact the Practice Department (practice@ciat.org.uk), in writing, to ensure compliance with Clause 8a) of the Code of Conduct. This requires you to notify the Institute of any alleged breaches. A notice will be placed on your membership file.

 

A complaint has been raised against me, what do I do?

We recognise that receiving a formal complaint from your professional body can be a shock and we advise that no further discussion should be entered into with the complainant in any form of aggressive or threatening way. It can also be a stressful time and for your mental wellbeing, you may wish to contact the Architects Benevolent Society absnet.org.uk, Mates In Mind matesinmind.org or the Architects' Mental Wellbeing Forum amwf.co.uk for assistance.

On receipt of the complaint, we suggest that you read and re-read it, note the date for response and complete the Member Response Form with the relevant evidence. It is recommended that a sequence of events, outlined as a timeline, is forwarded with the evidence.

I have already resolved the matter with my client. Do you still have to follow the complaint through?

Yes. The complaints procedure still has to be followed. CIAT is under an obligation to investigate any complaint brought against a member that is an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct. Unless the complainant rescinds the allegation, or evidence is provided which clearly demonstrates there is no alleged breach of the Code, it has to be seen through to its conclusion.

I have not breached the Code of Conduct, why do I have to follow this complaint through?

Although you feel you have done nothing wrong, CIAT is required to consider both sides of the complaint and impartially assess and investigate. If the Conduct Committee determines that you have done nothing wrong then there will be no case for you to answer and the file will be closed.

If the Conduct Committee do consider there is a case to answer then you will be advised of the next stage. We advise that you use your best endeavours to assist in the investigation of the complaint, as per Clause 8b) of the Code of Conduct.

As my professional body, why are you not protecting me?

Under its Royal Charter, the Institute’s function is to protect society and act objectively in ensuring that all members adhere to the Code of Conduct and act professionally whilst practising Architectural Technology.

As my professional body can CIAT support or advise me during this process?

No. CIAT is impartial and unable to assist in advising you how to respond to the complaint.

Once the complaint has been received against me, what happens next?

On receipt of a complaint, it is checked by the Practice Department and then sent to you, the member, for answer. Following the 28-day timeframe to respond (35 days if overseas), your response will be sent to the complainant for final comment. These three stages are then collated into one set of papers and sent to the Honorary Secretary and Chief Executive to evaluate whether any further clarification or information is required by either party. You will be kept advised throughout the process.

The papers, now known as ‘the case’, will be submitted to the Conduct Committee to determine at a Conduct Review whether you, the member, has a case to answer, in relation to any of the clauses from the Code which have been raised against you.

The flowchart diagram detailing the stages for a complaint can be viewed here.

What happens post the Conduct Review?

If there is a case to answer against the alleged breaches of the Code, a Conduct Hearing will be scheduled and you will be provided with the details, along with a request for any additional information required. If there is no case to answer against the alleged breaches of the Code, the case is closed and you will be notified in writing. On occasion, the Conduct Committee may adjourn the Conduct Review to seek further clarification or information and you will be advised of this in writing.

What happens if I am found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct?

Once you have been through the stages and a complaint has been heard by the Conduct Committee, it may mean that it has been decided that a disciplinary sanction commensurate with the severity of the breach is issued. This could range from a reprimand to expulsion from the Institute.

What disciplinary sanctions can the Institute impose?

The disciplinary sanctions that the Institute can impose are:

  • A reprimand
  • Exclusion
  • Expulsion

These sanctions are public and reported on this website and in AT Journal.

Can I and/or a representative attend if there is a Conduct Hearing?

Yes. You, the member can attend, together with a representative and you must notify us of this intention in writing by the due date. The complainant can also attend the Conduct Hearing.

Who covers my costs to 'defend' the complaint against me?

Any costs that may be associated in responding to the complaint are borne by you, the member.

Are there any costs associated with the complaints procedure?

No. CIAT does not charge any fees for administering a complaint that has been raised against a member.

Does the complaint impact on my membership?

No. Your membership is not impacted unless you are found in breach of the Code and one of these disciplinary sanctions are imposed against you:

  • A reprimand
  • Exclusion
  • Expulsion

If a complaint has been raised against you, you cannot resign your membership until the case has been closed.

What if the practice has become insolvent or goes into liquidation or if I have become bankrupt?

If you have become bankrupt or your practice goes into liquidation or insolvency, you are required to notify the Institute, in writing, as per Clause 9 of the Code of Conduct. We will advise you of the process you must follow. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Information Note can assist you in dissolving the company whilst protecting the public and yourself and ensuring compliance with the Code of Conduct.

What if I do not agree with the outcome from the Conduct Review or Hearing?

If the Conduct Committee determines that there is no case to answer, the case is closed by the Institute and there is no further action that CIAT will take.

If there has been a case to answer and if you do not agree with the decision or decisions following the Hearing, you may submit an application to appeal against these. The process is run by Construction Industry Council (CIC), and is independent of CIAT. Further information on this process can be found here. This includes the grounds you must demonstrate for an appeal to be considered. In this instance, the member also has the right to submit an application to appeal if they disagree with the decision or decisions made by the Conduct Committee.

What happens if my appeal fails and the Committee's decision is upheld?

The disciplinary sanction issued against you stands and there is no change in the decision made by the Conduct Committee.

Protecting your wellbeing
It can also be a stressful time and for your mental wellbeing, you may wish to contact the Architects Benevolent Society absnet.org.uk, Mates In Mind matesinmind.org or the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum amwf.co.uk for assistance.

If your question has not been answered please contact the Practice Department by emailing practice@ciat.org.uk

Last updated 17 June 2020