If you’ve been in or around the building and design industries for a while, you’ll know that some tight regulations bound the Architectural profession. Eligibility for registration, classes of registration and disciplinary proceedings for Architects are all heavily regulated and legislated under the Architect Registration Boards of each Australian State and Territory.
 
But did you know that the use of the word architect – in a variety of contexts – is also legislated? 
 
While it may be tempting to use descriptors like ‘architectural design‘ and ‘interior architecture‘ in your marketing, you could get yourself in all kinds of trouble if you’re misusing the terms in your jurisdiction.
 
While the following certainly can’t be deemed legal advice, it may help point you in the right direction to ensure you’re playing by the rules. If you require greater interpretation of any of the statements, we strongly recommend you seek advice from the relevant state Board of Architects or a legal practitioner.

New South Wales

The NSW Architects Registration Board investigates reports of person or entities illegally representing themselves or others as architects, as set out in Sections 9 and 10 of the Architects Act 2003. Examples of terms that fall under their definition of ‘representing as an architect’ include:
  • use of the title ‘architect’ or ‘registered architect’
  • use of the description architectural services, architectural design or architectural designer by an individual
  • use of any derivatives of the word ‘architect’ or ‘architectural’ by an individual or firm, and
  • use of the term ‘architectural design’ as a description of services provided by a firm that does not have a nominated architect
Learn more about the NSW Architects Registration Board and the relevant Act here:

Queensland

The Board of Architects of Queensland sets out a long list of prescribed titles and words in the Architects Regulation 2019 (QLD). The Act declares that a person who is not a registered practising architect must not use ‘architectural services’, ‘architectural design services’ or ‘architectural design’ to advertise or otherwise promote their services. In addition, the Act outlines a very comprehensive list of additional titles and terms, including but not limited to:
  • architectural
  • architectural experience
  • architectural planning and design
  • interior architecture

South Australia

The Architectural Practice Board of South Australia states:
The title Architect is a valuable and prestigious one, earned only after demonstration of high levels of competence and knowledge. For that reason, use of the title is restricted by legislation. 
 
The Architectural Practice Act 2009 states that ‘a person must not, in the course of advertising or promoting a service that he or she, or a partnership in which he or she is a partner, provides, use a prescribed word, or its derivatives, to describe a person who is engaged in the provision of the service or the partnership if the person or partnership is not a registered architect or registered architectural business, as the case requires‘. 
 
[Note: according to the Act, prescribed word means (a) architect or (b) any other word or expression prescribed by the regulations.]
The act does not prohibit a person using the title of ‘landscape architect’, ‘naval architect’ or ‘computer systems architect’. With respect to interior architecture, the APBSA sets out the following FAQ and response in their Guidance Note:
 
Q: Can I use the title ‘Interior Architect’ if I have a Bachelor of Interior Architecture? 
A: No, this would be an offence against the Architectural Practice Act 2009. You can refer to yourself as an ‘Interior Designer’. 
 
You can read the full Guidance Note 2 (Use of the title “Architect” and its derivatives) here:

 

Tasmania

The Board of Architects of Tasmania makes their position very clear, stating:
 
Examples of titles and descriptions that should NOT be used by persons who are not registered as architects in accordance with the Act include:
  • “Architect”
  • Any other word or combination of letters that sounds or looks like the word “architect”.
  • Any derivative of that term such as “architecture” or “architectural” if used in a way that indicates or may indicate to the public that a person in respect of whom it is used is registered or entitled or qualified to be registered as an architect if that person is not so registered or qualified
  • “Graduate Architect” or “Architectural Graduate”
Learn more about this Board and its guidelines here: https://architectsboardtas.org.au/the-board-protects-the-interest-of-consumers/

Victoria

In Victoria, the Architects Act 1991 (current as at 28 July 2020) states that a person must not represent himself or herself to be an architect and must not allow himself or herself to be represented as an architect unless he or she is registered as an architect under the same Act. It also sets out the following with respect to particular expressions:
 
Restriction on use of particular expressions 
(1)  A person or body (other than a person who is registered as an architect under this Act or an approved partnership or an approved company) must not use any of the terms “architectural services”, “architectural design services” or “architectural design” in relation to— 
(a)  the design of buildings or parts of buildings by that person or body; or 
(b)  the preparation of plans, drawings or specifications for buildings or parts of buildings by that person or body. 
 
The Act in its entirety can be viewed here:

Western Australia

The Architects Board of Western Australia stipulates clear regulations with respect to the protection of the title ‘Architect’. Their Info Sheet 22 (dated 9 October 2019) states:
Restricted Words 
In WA, the words “architect”, “architects”, “architectural”, “architecture”, and any abbreviation or derivative of these words are restricted words under the Act. This means that only individuals registered by the Board, and corporations licensed by the Board, can use a restricted word as part of their title, business name or description. 
 
The Info Sheet is a clear and concise document that would be a valuable resource for designers keen to ensure their marketing is not misrepresentative in any way. View the full paper here:

ACT

The Architects Act 2004 (effective 10 December 2019) defines architectural service as ‘a service provided in connection with the design, planning or construction of buildings that is ordinarily provided by architects’. The Act sets out several offences, including (but not limited to):
 
Firm offering architectural services without nominee 
(1) A corporation must not offer an architectural service unless the corporation has a nominee. 
Maximum penalty: 100 penalty units. 
(2) Each partner in a partnership commits an offence if— 
(a) the partnership offers an architectural service; and 
(b) the partnership does not have a nominee. 
Maximum penalty: 100 penalty units.
 
Unregistered individual advertising 
(1) An individual commits an offence if— 
(a) the individual advertises that the individual provides, or will provide, an architectural service; and 
(b) the individual is not registered. 
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units. 
(2) An offence against this section is a strict liability offence.
 
Provision of architectural services by third party 
A person commits an offence if— 
(a) the person offers an architectural service to be provided by someone else; and 
(b) the provider of the service is not a registered architect; and 
(c) the person is reckless about whether the provider is a registered architect.
 
Learn more about the ACT Architects Board here:

As indicated above, this article should not be considered legal advice. If you’re unsure about how the relevant Act can be applied or legislated in your jurisdiction, we recommend you contact your State or Territory Board of Architects or a legal practitioner.