Make a Complaint
Complaints about the Professional Conduct of Architects
Section 18 of the Architects Act 1991 (“the Act”) provides
that the Board, “on its own initiative or on the complaint of any person,
may inquire into an architect’s fitness to practice or professional conduct”.
The Architects Regulations 2004 ("the Regulations") contain professional
that are binding on architects.
If you are considering complaining about an architect or wish
to discuss compliant procedures please read the information on this
page and then phone the Board and ask to speak to the Compliance Officer.
How complaints are handled
The procedure followed by the Board when a complaint is received is explained
detail in this document:
In summary, the process followed is that when a complaint is received,
the Board notifies the architect and asks for a response, two Board members
(an architect and non-architect) review the matter and report to the Board,
and the Board decides whether or not to refer the matter to an Architects
The Board has a Policy to assist it in determining matters for referral
The Act (section 42 (2)) provides for a person to apply to the Victorian Civil
and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for review of a decision by the Board not to
refer a matter an Architects Tribunal inquiry.
Complainants should be aware that a complaint may take several months to
Inquiries are conducted by the Architects Tribunal which is independent
of the Board. A Tribunal is appointed as required, from a ‘standing panel’ of suitably qualified people approved
by the Minister.
An Architects Tribunal is, according to the Act, constituted as follows:
21. Membership of Tribunal
(1) A Tribunal must consist of —
(a) one person who is a practising architect; and
(b) one person who is not an architect; and
(c) one person who is a representative of consumer interests.
(2) The members of a Tribunal must be chosen from a panel of persons appointed by
the Minister under section 21A.
(3) A member of the Board cannot be a member of a Tribunal.
(4) At least one member of a Tribunal is to be a person with legal experience and
(5) A Tribunal must elect one of its members to be the Chairperson of the Tribunal.
The procedures followed by the Tribunal are explained in
detail in this document:
In summary, the process followed is that the Registration Board draws up
a Notice containing specific allegations regarding the architect's conduct.
A Tribunal is appointed, and the parties to the matter (the Architect and
the Board) present their cases and the Tribunal makes its Findings regarding
If the Architects Tribunal finds allegations
against an architect proved, it makes Determinations regarding Penalty
and Costs. The Board is required to enforce the Determinations
made by the Tribunal.
The Act provides for the Architect to apply to VCAT for review of a Determination made at an inquiry
(s 41 (c)). Tribunal outcomes are reported in the Board’s newsletter
Information, in its Annual Report and on its website.
One of the purposes of the Act is to protect consumers by controlling the
use of the title “architect” and the phrases
“architectural services”, “architectural design”
and “architectural design services”. Only
persons. partnerships and companies whose names appear on the Register of
Architects are permitted to use this language in connection with building
design. (The terms are not restricted in contexts unrelated to building
design, e.g. "website architects".) The Act also contains more general provisions against
non-architects holding themselves out as architects
In this way consumers should be able to expect that someone
representing themselves to be an architect actually is one.
Board investigates allegations of illegitimate use of the controlled words, or other
types of “holding out”, whether as a result of a complaint or on its
own initiative. Where there is evidence available, the Board
contacts those responsible, advises them of the legal situation, and
requires their compliance with the Act. Persistence in breaching the Act
leads to prosecution. The Act provides for maximum fines of 60 penatly units
per offense. (One penalty unit is $122.14 in the 2011–12 financial year.)
The right to use the title Architect is determined through the process of
registration, which requires attainment of an accredited qualification in
architecture or its equivalent, a period of two years' supervised practice,
and then passing of the Architectural Practice Examination (APE). Once
registered, architects are required to comply with the Regulations, are
subject to the disciplinary powers of the Board, and if in practise are
required to provide annual proof of Professional Indemnity Insurance.
The Board has a
Policy on Prosecutions for Offences against the Architects Act 1991.
Architectural graduates who have not yet registered as architects
are advised to exercise great care in how they describe themselves and what
language they allow others (e.g. employers) to use in describing them. Use
of terms such as "graduate architect" by such persons is a breach of the
title provisions of the Architects Act. The term "architectural
graduate" is an appropriate alternative.
Results of Title breach prosecutions are reported on the Board’s