(how) Can an architect advertise?
Article 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice sets out the manner in which the architect may advertise his services to the public. The Code sets out that this advertising must be independent and discreet (Art. 13), account taken of the honour of the profession (Art. 14) and without discrediting his colleagues' professional standing (Art. 25).
Notes to Art. 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice
The message conveyed to the public by the architect can be divided into three stages:
A) The first stage: information. The architect may, in practising his profession, provide information for the public. This information is intellectual in nature and has an objective character (i.e. accurate and entirely within the ethical and legal context). It is one of the professional practices traditionally granted to the architect. In some cases it is even a requirement that information be provided, such as when setting up a signboard on the construction site.
B) The second stage: permissible advertising. The architect who wishes to provide information for the public may also make use of advertising. By permissible advertising the Order means objective information, presented attractively, but always measured and prudent.
It must satisfy the provisions of paragraphs one and two of Article 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice, as well as the generally accepted rules of advertising ethics, i.e. the exclusion of any form of misleading, comparative or confusing advertising statements. It is designed to help raise the architect's profile and arouse the interest of potential clients. Advertising in this form is a new concept for the architect, and it is regarded, albeit implicitly, as a permissible means under the provisions of paragraphs one and two of Article 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice.
C) The third stage: impermissible advertising. Yet the architect, in practising his profession, may not advertise in a manner which is not consistent with the provisions of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice. This would be the case if the advertising were to tarnish the honour and integrity of the profession, call the architect's independence into question or mislead the consumer. In that sense any form of aggressive or overstated advertising must be regarded as impermissible. This is obviously also the case for any form of misleading, comparative or confusing advertising.
Although a fact of everyday life, advertising is a tool that should be used with the greatest of care. It is impossible to cater for every eventuality; it comes down to the provincial Councils to judge each case on its merits. The architect who is unsure about what may or may not be permissible in this recent and difficult matter should, as a precaution, seek advice from his Council beforehand. He should bear in mind that professional ethics, which are based on written rules, are interpreted through a set of related facts and circumstances and, above all, are conceived to give the practise of the profession of architect a social, economic and cultural framework.
This recommendation applies, like the rules of ethics, to every person or company that practises architecture in Belgium, irrespective of nationality.