Warning about bogus ‘architects’

Azlan Othman

Members of the Brunei Institution of Surveyors, Engineers and Architects (PUJA) (B) Architect Division made a number of complaints about persons and companies who make false claims and advertise themselves as ‘architects’, especially through Facebook and Instagram.

PUJA (B) Architect Division represents and serves the interest of registered architects in Brunei to promote the highest international standards.

The misuse of the title ‘architect’ is rampant, said several architects interviewed by the Weekend Bulletin. ‘Architect’ is a title protected by law and the public should be aware of this as a matter of safety in the business of the built environment.

Launched in May 2011 and enforced on May 10, 2014, Part III, Section 10(4) and Section 10(6) of the Architects, Professional Engineers and Quantity Surveyors (APEQS) 2011 Order states and provides Section 10(4) that “Subject to the provisions of this Order, no person shall use verbally or otherwise – the word ‘Architect’ or any other derivatives in connection with his business designation; and any word, name or designation that might lead to the belief that he is a registered architect”.

Section 10(6) states that “Subject to the provisions of this order, no person shall advertise or hold himself out or conduct himself in any way or by any means as a person who is authorised to supply architectural services in Brunei Darussalam, unless he is … a registered architect who has in force a practising certificate”.

Launched in July 2011, Section 6(1)(d) and Section 22(a)(e) and (h) of the Brunei Darussalam National Accreditation Council (BDNAC) states and provides Section 6(1)(d): “The functions of the Council shall be … to act as the sole national accrediting body”.
Section 22 provides the objectives of the Council framework: (a) Quality Assurance, (e) Parity of esteem and (h) Easy evaluation of qualification by any person.

An architect is a professional who has undergone accredited Part 1 and Part 2 academic qualification and completed at least two years of supervised and recorded practical training and examination (Part 3) before obtaining a licence to practise architecture. An architect holds Professional Indemnity Insurance and continues to maintain continuous professional development activities, which is mandatory for annual renewable of the licence to practise. An architect is solely accountable and liable for their performance when providing services
in architecture.

Regulating and arranging to hold examinations necessary for registration and licensing of architects is a function of the Board of Architects, Professional Engineers and Quantity Surveyors (BAPEQS), while the function of accreditation is performed by BDNAC.

BAPEQS, as the agency tasked to regulate the profession of architecture, validated eight countries whose architectural qualifications are recognised and accredited. They are the United Kingdom (UK), Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, the United States (US) and Canada. These countries set and maintain the highest international standards in architectural education and practice.

Since 2003, countries adopted the worldwide practice, that Part 3 examinations are conducted locally before a licence to practise is allowed. Each sovereign state has its independent laws upholding its traditional values and culture, with varying socio-economic and climatic influences. The architect is examined on their knowledge of the local conditions before a licence is issued.

At the same time, after 2003, International Chartered membership became available without a Part 3 examination and often without accredited qualification.

The public should be aware that graduates in architecture who obtain chartered membership status with or without accredited qualification is not necessarily a fully qualified and trained architect with a licence to practise architecture.

Since implementation of the Order, BAPEQS conducted two Part 3 examinations and continues to conduct this examination every year.

The more recently enacted Brunei laws are no different from the highest standards practised in jurisdiction. The Architects Registration Council (ARB) in the UK is the equivalent body to BAPEQS. ARB successfully prosecuted over 90 cases since 1997 for the misuse of the title ‘architect’. In Brunei Darussalam, the penalty for false claims is provided in Section 10(9) of APEQS Order: BND10,000 for a first offence and BND20,000 and/or imprisonment for the second or subsequent offence.

Those in the construction industry should be aware and comply with the laws of Brunei Darussalam in the interest of public health and safety. The public can visit www.pujajournal.com and www.bapeqs.gov.bn for information.