Recommendation of 16 June 1989 on the Application of Article 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice (Advertising)

Approved by the National Council in session on 16 June 1989.

This recommendation is given in conformity with Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice, approved by the RD of 18 April 1985 (BOJ, 8 May 1985). It comes into force on 1 September 1989.

1. Introduction

Article 13 of the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice specifies the manner in which the architect may advertise his activity to the public. The Code lays down that this advertising must be done in an independent and discreet manner (Article 13), account taken of the honour of the profession (Article 14) and without discrediting his colleagues' professional standing (Article 25).

2. Notes to Article 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.
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.
In that case it must have a plain and regulatory look.

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
And 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, or to call the architect's independence into question.
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.

3. Conclusion

Although a fact of everyday life, advertising is a tool that should be used with the greatest of care, given the novelty of the concept as it applies to the architect as the practitioner of a liberal profession.
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 the interpretation of professional ethics, on top of the established rules, is based on related facts that distinguish his conduct and that are social, economic and cultural in character.
This Recommendation, like the rules of ethics, applies to every person who is entitled to practise architecture in Belgium, irrespective of nationality.