Code of Professional Conduct and Practice
Code of Professional Conduct and Practice of 16 December 1983 as Established by the National Council of the Order of Architects (BOJ, 8 May 1985)
Approved by Article 1 RD of 18 April 1985 (BOJ, 8 May 1985).
Official German translation: RD 28 February 1999 (BOJ, 27 October 1999 (first edition)).
General principles governing the practice of the profession
The practice of architecture, through the expression of contemporary aspirations of (and their transposition to) the human habitat and working environment of the future, sets out to safeguard certain essential values. Irrespective of his title the architect shows an enduring respect for the factors that influence the environment and must so adapt his outlook to best effect.
It befits him to create designs that enrich natural and cultural heritage, which is to be protected. The architect must practise the profession competently and effectively and with due regard for the rules of professional ethics.
This Code of Professional Conduct and Practice applies to anyone who is entered to the roll or the trainee list of a Council of the Order of Architects and anyone who is authorised by the Order to practise architecture on an occasional basis in Belgium pursuant to Article 8, paragraph three of the Act of 26 June 1963 establishing an Order of Architects.
These persons are identified in the present code by the name of “architect”, without prejudice to the title set out in Article 1 of the Act of 20 February 1939.
Without prejudice to the laws and regulations, this code establishes the rules applicable to the capacity of architect as well as those applicable to professional practice. It may be encoded in binding standards, approved by a cabinet-agreed royal decree proposed by the National Council of the Order, and in recommendations handed down by the National Council of the Order.
Types and conditions of architectural practice
The architect practices his profession through self-employment, civil or public service, or salaried employment.
Irrespective of his title the architect must have the independence to practise in accordance with the position, which is of public interest, and the rules of ethics so as to take responsibility for his actions.
He will notify the Order immediately of any change in his title.
The architect will adjust the number and size of the engagements he accepts to suit his personal capacities, the resources at his disposal and the special demands imposed by the significance and circumstance of the services he renders.
The self-employed architect practices the profession on a full-time or part-time basis and does so independently of any statutory authority or form of paid employment.
He practises alone or as a colleague to one or more persons entered to the roll of the Order or a trainee list, or in a professional partnership or association.
The practice of architecture is permitted in a professional partnership or association, provided that none of the provisions of its articles are inconsistent with the present Code of Professional Conduct and Practice.
The architect who wishes to set up an association or company may do so only if the Council of the Order has confirmed that the founding contract or company articles are conformant with the conditions of the present article and take into account the provisions of Article 3 .
The municipal architect is recruited or appointed in the capacity of architect by a public service institution such as the State, region, province, local authority, intermunicipal body, public institution or semi-governmental agency. This does not apply to the persons referred to in paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Act of 20 February 1939 on the protection of the title and profession of architect. If a municipal architect is not appointed in the capacity of architect he is not obliged to enter to the roll or the trainee list of a Council of the Order of Architects. In accordance with Article 4 of the present code his practice of the profession is fully intellectually and technically independent.
The salaried architect practices the profession in full-time or part-time employment for a natural person or a legal entity under the terms of a white-collar employment contract.
The salaried architect must be in a position to assume his responsibility in accordance with the specificities of the profession.
He must ensure among other things that the relations between his employer and the latter's co-contractor are not inconsistent with the laws and regulations governing the practice of architecture; he is under an obligation to notify his employer if they are.
A salaried architect may not practice independently without first obtaining an authorisation from the Council of the Order, which will base its decision on the elements particular to the case, particularly the architect's availability to his client.
Under Article 5 of the Act of 20 February 1939 (as amended on 12 June 1969) a derogation from the above provision is permitted for the architect appointed to an educational role in the capacity of officer or public service official in a subject related to architecture or construction methods. This derogation is also permitted for a person whose capacity is considered equivalent to officer or public service official.
The architect who serves as an expert must have obtained through professional practice the experience required to enable him to resolve the problems put before him. He must complete his tasks with due speed, discretion and independence.
Practice of the profession of architect and non-compatibility
Relationship with the client
1° The practice of the profession of architect is incompatible with the profession of private or public-sector contractor.
a) Nevertheless, the architect may participate in self-employment or under the terms of an employment contract in the design of certain materials, elements or construction systems, provided that his participation is approved by the Council of the Order on the basis of relevant recommendations handed down by the Order.
b) Subject to the Order's recommendations and on the proviso that he retains his independence the architect may participate with a contractor or other professional in a property services company, of which the company articles have been approved in advance by the Council of the Order; in such a case he must take account of the provisions of Article 11.
3° The architect may be engaged by a client to execute in the name and for the account of the latter the full programme of works involved in the construction of a building, account taken of the incompatibility set out above in § 1.
The special appointment he obtains in that case must be established by a written contract in which, among other things, the extents of his authorisations are specified and mention is made as to whether the appointment is paid.
The architect's liability as holder of the appointment is described in Title XIII of Volume III (Articles 1984 and following) of the Civil Code.
4° The architect may also manage properties and transact all business relating to this; however, the operation must not have the character of an agency or office of business.
The architect may not carry out either directly, indirectly or through the agency of a third party the activities described as incompatible in Article 10.
The architect is remunerated according to title in the form of fees, stipends, salary or pay that afford him a means of existence and enable him to practice his profession with honour and integrity.
They must allow him to cover his expenses, such as his professional indemnity insurance.
[...]1 Breaches of these provisions will lead to the application of the disciplinary orders set out in Article 21 of the Act of 26 June 1963.
The National Council proposes fee and salary reference scales.
The architect who serves as an expert will issue a moderate statement of fees and expenses and take all elements into account, particularly the degree of difficulty involved and the extent of the services rendered, and to some extent also the financial resources of the parties and the actual interests at stake.
1Amended by Article 3 of the RD of 18 August 2010 (BOJ of 25 August 2010).
The architect may advertise his services to the public discreetly and independently; in so doing he must steer clear of aggressive advertising. He will ensure that others do not use his name or title unlawfully or for commercial gain.
a) He may publicise his capacity as architect through books, studies or articles in science, arts or professional journals and in any situation the purpose of which is to inform the public.
b) Between commencement and completion of the work the architect who carries out operations on site may erect a signboard in accordance with the provisions established by the Order. This signboard must state the name or names of the architects that were engaged to design the structure.
c) The architect has the right, on completion, to apply his name to his work, provided that it is mentioned discreetly.
d) Without prejudice to the relevant rules and regulations, the architect given the task of negotiating a property sale may only publicise his capacity as architect if he does so discreetly.
The architect will refrain from taking any step or making any offer that might tarnish the honour of his profession. Among other things he is forbidden to pursue engagements by conferring advantages on others such as benefits or commissions.
The architect, whether he practices independently or in a company or association, must have civil liability and professional indemnity insurance, including the ten-year structural warranty.
This insurance can come under the global, compulsory cover for all parties involved in the construction project.
This insurance holds for a ten-year period, as of practical completion, and covers the policyholder's completed projects up to the time of death.
He will endeavour to propose designs that remain within the limits of the construction programme specified for the project and within the budget specified in the contract between the parties.
If changes in the contractually agreed programme are made during the design or construction stages they must be listed in an additional contract and there must be a reference to their financial impact.
He will endeavour to comply with the legal and regulatory provisions applicable to the engagement with which he is entrusted.
Unless summonsed to give evidence the architect is forbidden to disclose secrets of which he has knowledge by virtue of his circumstance or profession.
If a client builds a property or has one built with a view to selling it or assigning the rights for a period of more than nine years, the architect must serve the interests of the client insofar as they are consistent with the public interest and the legitimate interests of users or future acquirers.
The provisions of the present article apply to self-employed architects and salaried architects whose employers accept engagements of this kind.
In these cases the provincial Councils of the Order are competent to assess the contract between a self-employed architect and his client and the employment contract between a salaried architect and his employer.
The contract governing every engagement for services is to be made up in writing, at the latest when the services are defined; the contract must make explicit mention of the obligations on either side as they arise from the present standards.
The contract will state any of the steps below for which the architect is engaged:
- collation of the design brief information;
- development of the project programme;
- drawings and concept design;
- project administration information;
- procurement information: plans, written documents and tendering report;
- production information and operations on-site;
- assistance with practical completion and agreement of final statement of account.
Under the law of 20 February 1939, the architect must not accept an engagement for a project plan without at the same time being engaged to inspect the progress of the works.
A derogation from this principle is permitted if the architect is assured that the inspection of the works will be conferred on another architect who is entered to the roll or the trainee list. In that case he will notify both the approval-granting authority and his Council of the Order and supply the name of the architect to take his place.
He must follow the same procedure if, after delivering the project plan, he is relieved of the on-site inspections by his client.
Irrespective of his title, the architect will help his client select a contractor with a view obtaining the best value for money for the project.
He will draw his client's attention to the contractor's guarantees.
When inviting tenders, or if contracts are awarded by a different means, the architect will ensure equality of opportunity for all competitors, and he will assist the client in the manner set out in Article 22.
The architect's relationship with technical consultants
When engaging the services of a technical consultant the architect must, as a preliminary to every service, describe in writing the extent of this consultant's involvement and the respective roles and responsibilities of every practitioner, insurances included, account taken of the provisions, among others, of Articles 1792 and 2270 of the Civil Code.
The aforementioned written agreement must also state the technical consultant's fee and the method of payment.
When the services of a technical consultant are engaged the architect will retain all of the prerogatives of his appointment.
The RD of 18 April 1985 is abolished by the Council of State in that the RD gives binding effect to Article 24, paragraphs one and two (CoS ruling no. 28581, 13 October 1987 (BOJ, 25 December 1987)).
Relationships with other architects
The architect must demonstrate professional courtesy and loyalty.
He is entirely objective in his assessment of his colleagues' work and accepts that his own work will be assessed by his colleagues in the same spirit.
He will generally refrain from any practice that could discredit his colleagues' professional standing.
If for any reason an architect is asked to take over from a colleague he must notify that colleague in writing, or, in the case of death, his heritors by registered letter, and he must enquire as to any objections that may be raised.
The newly appointed architect must first report the matter to his provincial Council, and he must describe his appointment.
The architect may not, without first obtaining the consent of his provincial Council, take action before he has ascertained that the fees owing to his predecessor have been paid to the latter or his beneficiaries. In disputed matters or pressing cases the provincial Councils may give an architect who is approached by a client the authorisation to execute all or part of the project. In the event of a dispute over fees the competent provincial Council may order that funds be set aside in an account until the Council passes its decision.
The architect or his heritors will supply the newly appointed architect with the full project information and any information or paperwork in their possession.
When several architects collaborate on a project, or on part of a project, or as technical consultants for a project, their relationship must be conducted in a spirit of cooperation.
These architects must share every document and item of information in the best interests of the project and the collaboration.
The architect's relationship with the Order
The architect cannot refute the authority of the provincial Council under whose jurisdiction he falls when that Council's intercession is sought by the client under Article 18 of the Act of 26 June 1963.
When so requested by the provincial Council the architect will disclose, in matters that concern him, the information and documents that are needed for the Council of the Order to complete its task.
The architect may take part in a competition in which he competes with other architects over the quality of the designs, and if the rules by which the competition is organised are consonant with the honour and dignity of the profession.
The architect's participation in competitive tendering, which involves both the design and its execution, is permitted only if the project terms and conditions contain nothing which is inconsistent with the laws and regulations governing the profession of architect, including the independence associated with the specific character and ultimate purpose of the architectural appointment.
Paragraph 2 abolished by National Council decision of 21 November 2003.
The architect, as the creator of a design or invention, is entitled to receive royalties and patent royalties in respect of these and to turn a respectable profit on them.
The architect who develops new methods or processes may protect them with patents or by other legal means. He may assist in the exploitation of the aforementioned patents and copyrights on the condition that his independence is not compromised.
Subject to the above, he will authorise his colleagues to use his invention.