The Australian Institution of Architects (AIA) has praised the decision of the Brisbane Magistrates Court to penalise a Queensland building designer for ‘holding out’ as an architect. The Institute has vowed to continue protecting people from ‘pretend’ architects.

The Court found Christopher Peter Clout and his company, Chris Clout Design, guilty of offences against the Architects Act 2002 (the Act). Queensland law prohibits individuals and companies from holding out to be an architect, using the title ‘architect’ or to use the words ‘architectural services’ or ‘architectural design services’ unless they are a registered architect with the Board of Architects of Queensland (BOAQ).

Clout and his company were initially taken to court in June over allegations that his website and book repeatedly use the term “architect” instead of “building designer”. He was also accused of offering architectural services despite not being a registered architect. He has since been ordered to pay $50,000 worth of fines and legal costs.

Queensland chapter president, Paul Trotter, says architects are highly qualified professionals who require a minimum of eight years of study, work experience and professional accreditation to become a registered architect in Queensland.

“The law ensures only those individuals who have achieved the correct, extensive qualifications and registration can call themselves architects. Not only does this protect the public from misrepresentations by unqualified or unregistered operators, it is essential to maintaining the value and integrity of the architectural profession.

“The Institute applauds the work of the BOAQ in bringing this action and the decision of the Court. Architects influence a large proportion of infrastructure and public as well as residential projects in Australia and the high quality of their work should be protected.

“The community must have confidence that when they commission the services of an architect, that is exactly what they are getting – a highly qualified, registered professional.”

According to the AIA, this is the second successful prosecution in the Brisbane Magistrates Court by the BOAQ this year for ‘holding out’ offences and should be a warning to others claiming to be architects or allowing themselves to be called architects.

“Ours is a respected and trusted profession and we will continue to protect and defend our hard-earned reputation against any and all pretenders,” says Trotter.