A Deeside architect has been suspended for six months after the industry regulator found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
Michael Rassmussen, of Michael Rasmussen Architects (MRA) located in Station Square, Aboyne, will still be able to practice his profession and MRA will still carry out business as usual however he will not be allowed to call himself an Architect.
Mr Rasmussen has a long-standing connection with a property company, Heritage Properties (Scotland) (“HPS”), which for many years owned an area of land which was developed.
According to the industry regulator, Mr W and Miss D (“the complainants”) bought plot five, which was one of the last six plots to be sold off, all adjacent to one another.
The sale contract between HPS and the complainants required the latter to use Mr Rasmussen’s firm as architects up to, and including, building warrant stage.
When the plot titles were registered, says the regulator, Mr Rasmussen thought the plans incorrect and submitted planning applications, including one for plot five, based on what he said were the correct boundaries, seeking the approval of the owners of plots four, five and six to the alteration of the registered plans.
It was alleged that he did not deal with a conflict of interest between HPS and MRA appropriately in the terms of his retainer, and that he applied ‘‘improper pressure’’ on the complainants to change their registered title, he having submitted a planning application for their plot (and others) based on the boundaries that he thought should exist rather than those that did.
When they did not agree, and withdrew their instructions, Mr Rasmussen caused his firm to send the complainants a bill for approximately £10,000 for stage four work, which the complainants claimed they had never instructed.
After the titles had been registered, the complainants, jointly with the adjoining owners, marked their boundaries with the adjacent plots (four and six) on the ground with wooden stakes and spray paint.
Mr Rasmussen, unilaterally and without informing the owners of those plots, removed the boundary markers and replaced them with ones in what he said were the correct positions.
Accordingly, the conflict of interest allegations arose from the connection between Mr Rasmussen and HPS which was the seller of the plot, the claim for costs allegation from the bill rendered for stage four work and the other allegations concerned the boundaries of plot five and Mr Rasmussen’s attempts to have them altered.
The Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) invited Mr Rassmussen to Norwood Hall Hotel on May 19-20 and heard the case.
A spokesperson for the PCC said: “We looked at the criteria for erasure. We are satisfied that the behaviour is not likely to be repeated, and we have noted that there is no allegation of dishonesty, although the other indicator of erasure, a persistent lack of insight into the seriousness of actions or consequences, is present.
“Accordingly we have not imposed an erasure order but impose a suspension order.
“We have considered carefully the length of time for which we should suspend Mr Rasmussen...we consider the proportionate sanction to be a period of six months.
“Accordingly we suspend Mr Rasmussen for a period of six months from today(May 20).”
n See the letters page for Mr Rasmussen’s response. (Page 29)