Why must Architects register?

The Building Control Act 2007

The title 'Architect' is protected by Section 18 of the Building Control Act 2007 (the Act). This means that only Registered Architects can use the title 'Architect'. Businesses can use the word 'Architect' in their business name so long as the business is under the control and management of a Registered Architect.

The purpose of this provision of the Act is to protect the public from dishonest individuals who deliberately mislead people by implying that they are something which they are not.

A Registered Architect has demonstrated that, through their education, training, and experience, they have the level of skill, knowldege, and competence required to practice as an architect in Ireland.

Where a person who is not registered uses the title 'Architect' to imply registration or carries on business under a name, style, or title that contains the title 'Architect', they are committing an offence under the Act.


Prosecution for misuse of the title 'Architect'

Offences for misuse of the title or word 'Architect' are prosecuted by the RIAI in the District Court. A person found guilty of an offence is liable for a fine of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term of up to twelve months, or both.

Prosecution for misuse of title is a last resort. When the RIAI is informed of a potential misuse of the title or word 'Architect' it will, where possible, contact the persons or businesses who have been reported and attempt to help them regularise their position. Where a person or business fails to regularise its position and/or repeatedly ignores written requests to cease and desist from misusing the title or word 'Architect', the RIAI will commence proceedings and bring a prosecution for misuse of title in the District Court.

If the misuse of title in respect of which a person is convicted of is continued after the conviction, the person shall be guilty of a further offence on every day on which the contravention continues and for each such offence the person shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €500.


Allowable uses of the title 'Architect'

The Act allows the use of the title and/or word 'Architect' in the following circumstance: landscape architect; naval architect; architectural technician; architectural technologist; and interior design architect.

The title 'Architect' is sometimes used in a way that is not connected to the built environment and could not mislead a member of the public into thinking that a person was involved in the design and construction of buildings, for instance a 'software architect'. In these instances, the RIAI would not take any action.

The RIAI also permits the use of the words 'architectural student', to describe a person who has not yet completed their five-year training programme in architecture; and 'architectural graduate', to describe a person who has completed their five-year qualification in architecture but has not yet been admitted to the Register.

Members and Fellows of the RIAI who have retired from practice and are no longer registered may reasonably describe themselves as Architects, so long as they do not practise or carry on business using the title 'Architect' or use the title in a manner which might imply that they are registered. They may also continue to use the affixes MRIAI and FRIAI.


Business and company name registration

Since 1 December 2015, any person or business applying to the Registrar of Companies to register a company name or business name containing the term 'Architect', or any grammatical form thereof, is required to obtain a certificate known as a Notice of Determination from the RIAI stating that the proposed business or company name complies with the requirements of the Act. The Notice of Determination process is carried out in accordance with the RIAI Rules for Practice Titles.