Bankrupt ‘wonky cinema’ architect faces another ARB hearing next year


Daniel Marcal, who has already been hit with a bill for £500,000 at the High Court over the residential entertainment scheme, will face the ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee again in the new year.

A video hearing last week was adjourned after only preliminary legal matters were dealt with within the allocated five days.

Marcal’s representatives applied to have the case thrown out on grounds including a claim that the ARB acted beyond its jurisdiction in approaching the project clients to initiate their complaint against Marcal. This was defeated but took up a significant period of time at the hearing, as did a discussion about what evidence should be allowed.

Marcal, 44, last month told the AJ he offered to give up the title of architect voluntarily as he has no intention to practise again after the High Court legal case cost him his house, damaged his mental health and ‘left an indelible mark’ on him. However, the ARB has a policy of ensuring architects don’t avoid disciplinary proceedings by resigning.

The allegations of unacceptable professional conduct made by the ARB include that Marcal placed himself in a position of conflict of interest by ‘soliciting money from potential suppliers without the knowledge or consent of his clients’ – and that these actions were ‘dishonest or lacked integrity’.

Further allegations are that Marcal did not provide adequate terms of engagement; did not produce an adequate design in line with client and building regulation requirements; did not have effective systems in place to ensure that projects were regularly monitored and reviewed; and did not ensure that he had adequate or appropriate professional indemnity insurance.

In a written defence prior to last week’s hearing, Marcal denied all the allegations except a failure to provide adequate terms of engagement. He said this was due to a typing error when he tried to send a copy of the 2010 RIBA Standard Form of Agreement 2012 Edition by email to one of the homeowner clients in May 2015, but mistyped her email address. This did not amount to a serious lapse of professional conduct, he said.

Marcal described the allegation of dishonesty as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘astonishing’, saying it was based on ‘banter’ in an email to a joiner regarding a price for work done inside the home cinema. He added: ‘Never in my entire life have I taken a kick-back.’

The architect was appointed in 2014 by banker Philip Freeborn and his wife Christina Goldie to convert a swimming pool room in their £7 million north London home into a home cinema and function room.

The project did not meet the expectations of the client. An ARB document records that Freeborn branded the works he viewed in December 2015 ‘a disaster’.

‘The glass box cut into the sloping roof, there were uneven spaces around the columns and the glass panels were set at different levels,’ said the ARB paper ahead of Marcal’s PCC hearing (5 October).

‘[Freeborn] states that they could also see that the glass panels were different distances from the ceiling. There were large spider bolts that were visible which had not been on the original design.’

The client called for remedial works, but ultimately the project ended in a court case. In 2019, Mr Justice Bowdrey, sitting as a deputy Technology and Construction Court judge, said the scheme had left Freeborn and Goldie with an ‘ugly duckling’ that could not ‘be…

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