Misuse of the title Architect

Section 18 (1) of the Building Control Act 2007 makes it an offence for persons to use the title 'Architect' or to practice or carry on business under any name, style, or title containing the word 'Architect' unless they are a Registered Architect.

Only persons who are Registered Architects may use the title 'Architect'. A person who is not a Registered Architect who uses the title to imply registration or who practises or carries on business under any name, style, or title containing the word 'Architect' may be guilty of an offence.

The Board of the RIAI is the body responsible for bringing and prosecuting cases of misuse of the title 'Architect'. In reaching a decision as to whether to prosecute, the board has reference to the RIAI Prosecution Guidance Notes. The main principles that the board consider are: the strength of the evidence, the public interest, and whether the prosecution has been brought in a timely manner.

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.

Offences are prosecuted by the RIAI in the District Court. A person found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term of up to twelve months, or both.

If the misuse of title in respect of which a person is convicted 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.

Where a person is convicted of an offence under the Act, the details of the prosecution are published on the RIAI website. Where a person who was convicted of an offence under the Act is subsequently admitted to the Register for Architects, entry in the Table of Prosecutions may be removed as there is no longer a consumer protection imperitive to publish.

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.

Table of Prosecutions

Date Name and Location Court Fine Costs Context
14/12/2015 Mr. William (Bill) Doran, Dublin 4 Dublin District €1,500 €1,500 Mr. Doran was found guilty of misuse of the title architect having described himself as an architect in a formal submission to Dublin City Council