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Signoff: David Taylor

WHY DO I feel like giving the ARB a good slap? The body, which regulates and registers practicing architects, has never done me any harm. I've never even met anybody from the ARB, but it's still managed to get right up my nose.

I'll tell you why. It's because the ARB has gone all precious and whiney about the use of the term 'architect' in the press. An architect can only call himself an architect if he's completed the required professional training and is registered as an architect with the ARB.

A lot of people get funny about the misuse of words. There are always letters - usually written in green biro - on the editor's desk after a news item mentions 'bulldozers moving onto a site' when everybody knows those machines are actually tracked excavators. Does it matter? To some people it does.

There are also letters when a backhoe loader is referred to as 'a JCB' when it's a Caterpillar or some other make. But notice this: JCB itself never wields the green ink - it has more important business to at tend to.

Of course, such fundamental er rors of fact never appear in Construction News - check future issues for the deliberate exception that proves the rule. It is in the national press that such solecisms occur and that's because the average reader also doesn't know the difference between a bulldozer and a 360 degree excavator.

I've always thought people who go so far as to write to the publication with an indignant correction should get a life. Which brings me back to the ARB, which reacted angrily to the way several national newspapers reported the trial of Anthony De Boise this month.

The newspapers' offence was to call Mr De Boise an 'architect' when in fact he was a building inspector with Wandsworth Council.

Mr De Boise's offence, on the other hand, was to carry out a series of violent sexual assaults on schoolgirls.

He was jailed for 13 years.

I'm afraid I was too aghast at the accounts of Mr De Boise's depravity to even notice the outrageous slanders perpetrated against the architectural profession. But then I'm not an architect, am I?

HERE'S another complaint I find difficult to comprehend. Electrical contractor SPL is up in arms because an adjudicator rejected its claim for money it says is owed by a labour agency.

If I felt I was being unfairly diddled out of £300,000 I'd also be mightily cheesed off, so I can understand SPL's frustration. But if you're in the blame game, you've got to be careful you don't shoot yourself in the foot.

The dispute blew up on a subcontract package that SPL carried out on the Wembley stadium project.

That's easy enough to understand - in hindsight we all know it goes with the territory.

But now SPL is complaining that it has been let down by the Construction Act 1996, a piece of legislation that by common consent has been a force for good in the industry.

SPL's claim was thrown out because the adjudicator could find nothing that resembled a written contract - a clear prerequisite of the Act.

But SPL director Paul Gregory points out: 'Most firms are just happy to have the work and don't insist on everything in writing.'

If that's true then things are worse than I realised. Even when extremely tight schedules mean work has to start before the contract is signed, surely most contractors make sure there's a letter of intent or at least some other written record of an agreement.

And if you ignore the requirements of a piece of legislation, how can you then complain that the same legislation has let you down?