Architects take association president to court after suspension of warrants

Chamber accused of illegal directive to force higher payments

 

Several practising architects have filed lawsuits against Chamber of Architects’ President Andre’ Pizzuto and other committee members following the suspension of their warrant for three months.

Architects Conrad Thake, David Sultana, Carmel Cacopardo, Edward Scerri, Anthony Galea and Marvienne Camilleri asked the Court of Appeal to declare Pizzuto’s actions illegal and the Chamber’s decision null and void.

The issue revolves around payments that the government forks out through the Commissioner of Inland Revenue (CIR) for technical reports on valuations on the transfer of property for tax purposes.

A government tender issued earlier this year, establishing a €25 payment fee for each report, invited warranted architects to submit their offers.

Yet a directive was issued by the Chamber of Architects led by Andre Pizzuto stipulating that no architects, including those who are not members of the Chamber, take part in the tender as the payment offered by the government was deemed too low.

The directive’s intention, accompanied by threats of disciplinary action, was to boycott the tender en masse so the government would be forced to pay more to those interested in such work.

Ignoring Pizzuto’s directive, some architects still submitted their tender, with the Chamber retaliating by suspending their warrant for three months for not abiding by its directive.

Some of the architects hit by the Chamber’s decision have now filed a court case asking the Court of Appeal to declare the Chamber’s decision illegal on different counts, including those of natural justice and free market competition laws.

According to the architects, assisted by veteran lawyer Joe Schembri, Pizzuto and his Chamber acted as the prosecutor and the judge at the same time, without the ‘victims’ being given a fair hearing.

They also claimed that while it was Pizzuto who accused them of breaching the Chamber’s directive, it was also Pizzuto and his members who decided to suspend them without even giving them the chance to appear before the same ‘kangaroo’ court.

The architects also said the Chamber had no right to dictate whether its members should participate in an open competitive process, such as this tender, and that the directive it gave goes against its own earlier directives which endorsed the free market and the liberalisation of payments and fees asked by warranted architects.

The architects accused Pizzuto and the rest of the Chamber’s members of failing to act impartially, as they also had a vested interest in the issue and could also submit their own offers for the same tender.

Only recently, Pizzuto hit the headlines after defending architects turned into mega developers and speculators. Reacting to criticism, Pizzuto had told The Shift that such architects, including the one developing a  block in Manikata, engulfing a centuries-old chapel, were not in breach of the Chamber’s Code of Ethics.

Pizzuto had told The Shift: “A conflict would arise when a professional could stand to gain personally from delivering a particular service in such a way that it undermines the client’s interests.”

“It follows, therefore, that a perit delivering a professional service to himself cannot have a conflict of interest precisely because the interests are aligned.”

Professionals consulted by The Shift said Pizzuto’s interpretation was “completely wrong”.

Pizzuto reacted by issuing a statement falsely accusing The Shift of distorting his comments.

                           
                           
                               
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Charles Falzon, Sliema
Charles Falzon, Sliema
2 months ago

Without going into the merits of this case, which I believe goes against the principles of the free market, Mr Pizzuto and his Committee should advise on what action is being taken about four architects who falsely declared the width of a 2.4-meter alleyway in Sliema as being over 3.0 meters for their sponsoring developers to gain advantages from improved road-width-to-height ratios and the obvious profit returns of having more floors developed.
I first reported the case short of a year ago, sending monthly reminders.
The replies so far are that the Kamra has a list and I must wait my turn.
My mind is set on the Kamra covering up with impunity for its defaulting members!
Correct me if my perception is incorrect!

makjavel
makjavel
2 months ago

What will happen to the two architects found criminally guilty of the death of a person due to negligence ? Do these still have their warrant?

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
2 months ago

I cannot understand how an association of professionals, can prohibit its members from the freedom of applying to be on a list of architects willing to carry out the work related to their personal professional practice, on behalf of a client, whoever that may be.
This is a gestapo type of decision.
I do however criticise a government decision to offer peanuts for a professional service. Euro 25 is nowhere near the consultancy rates, government and its entities pay consultants hourly rates exceeding Euro 100 per hour.
This precarious professional rate, also applies to court tariffs for lawyers, and court experts, which have for years been, and still are an insult to the professional class.
One pays a higher hourly rate, and tax free, to maintenance and other related workers.
No wonder Minister Profs Scicluna had complained that he was being paid peanuts.

Josette Camilleri
Josette Camilleri
1 month ago

These architects have no self respect if they give their work, time and energy so little value. Maybe they just intend signing a piece of paper with no site visit or proper inspection if they think 25 euro is an adequate fee for a report.

A quick visit to a lawyer, notary or medical consultant will soon remind them what other professionals charge for their time and expertise.

Furthermore, when you belong to an established and respected professional body, you are expected to abide by decisions made for the general good of the whole body. A true professional doesn’t strike out on his/her own against the professional body to try and gain personal or political brownie points to the detriment of their colleagues.

Professional ethics seem to be sorely lacking here.

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