The founder and CEO of a chartered surveyor firm claims he has been forced to make nearly all of the staff redundant after disciplinary action by regulatory body RICS.
Nicholas Prinse, of London-based Prinsegate Surveyors, told The Neg that once the decision of the RICS disciplinary panel was made public on May 23, the new business for his practice “halved overnight”.
The company was placed under ‘interim measures’ and registration suspended for a year after a hearing, which was prompted by claims made by a former employee in a pay dispute.
The original case was heard by an employment tribunal, which ordered Prinsegate to pay the employee, a graduate surveyor, some unpaid salary, bonus and expenses.
Effects of the disciplinary action have been so severe that Prinse has had to release virtually all of the 60 staff he employed.
The boss says its disciplinary panel only made a prima facie finding against him without establishing the facts, based on the outcome of the employment tribunal.
Prinse also says RICS was not open to new technology such as livestreams and videos of surveys so advice of colleagues can be sought. He believes it has taken a “hardline approach” to his case, and that many other surveyors will be fearing similar action.
The firm is now adapting to become an ‘introducer’ to help people find a freelance surveyor, with a core of the original staff roll retained.
A spokesperson said RICS couldn’t comment on an ongoing case. Penalties open to the disciplinary panel after the suspension include a fine and permanent removal from its register.
President Ann Gray revealed that the Chair of its Standards and Regulation Board (SRB), Dame Janet Paraskeva along with all its members, had tendered their resignations.
The SRB sets the rules and monitors the performance of surveyors to maintain ‘appropriate protection for consumer and clients’, and also conducts investigations into those who don’t meet the standards it sets.
Justin Young, who was COO at Knight Frank until last autumn, recently replaced previous RICS chief Sean Tompkins, who departed after a critical report.
An independent review led by Alison Levitt KC found that there was a power struggle within RICS, and four senior board members including Tompkins left.
A later review by Lord Bichard recommended RICS needed urgent change, and must overhaul its governance structure.