ARB Reform Group's ad was 'likely to mislead', rules Advertising Standards Authority

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against an advertisement relating to the elections for the Architecture Registration Board (ARB) in February this year.

The advertisement, published by the ARB Reform Group in the RIBA Journal, stated: “ARB presently has a majority of lay appointees who have consistently joined together to out-vote the elected architects, resulting in unnecessary regulation and interference, and leading to excessive costs and higher registration fees.” Professor Tom Woolley, a member of the ARB, challenged this claim.

The ARB Reform Group argued during the ASA's investigation into the complaint that the ARB was constituted with a lay majority of eight to seven architects elected by the profession, and that the lay majority always voted together.

The group admitted, however, that the complainant was correct to say that few formal votes had, in fact, taken place but that, given that the lay members were in a majority, “views were clear without a vote taking place”.

In its adjudication, the Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the ARB Reform Group's claim was likely to mislead and stated that it “did not consider their evidence proved that the lay appointees had consistently joined together to vote against the elected architects”.

The ASA concluded, however, that the statement “your right to vote is under threat” was unlikely to mislead.

The ASA's sole action was to insist that the ad, which was made specifically for the February election, must not appear again in its current form.