What is the difference between “landscape architect” and “registered landscape architect”?

They are identical. A landscape architect must be a registered landscape architect (RLA). A person can use the title “landscape architect”, “registered landscape architect” or “R.L.A.” only if he or she has been registered by LARB [LARO S.29]. Offenders are liable to a fine at level 5 and to imprisonment for 1 year [LARO S.30].

I am a Member of Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects (HKILA). Can I call myself a “landscape architect”?

No. You must get registered by LARB (and get renewed every year) before you become a “landscape architect” in Hong Kong.

I am a Member of HKILA. Will I be automatically registered by LARB?

No. You need to make a separate application to LARB. HKILA is a professional institute while LARB is a registration authority for landscape architects. As reconfirmed by LARB in 2012, before getting registered, LARB requires you to gain a further 1-year of “relevant professional experience” [LARO S.12(1)(b)] after you have become a Member of HKILA. Without such experience, LARB will not register you and you are still not yet a “landscape architect” in Hong Kong.

I am a Member of HKILA already. Why do I need to register?

The law requires you to get registered before you become a landscape architect. If you choose not to register, you are not a landscape architect (i.e., you cannot even have the title “landscape architect”, “registered landscape architect” or “R.L.A.”) in Hong Kong, and you cannot carry out tasks specifically required by the Government, such as Self-Certificate of Compliance (SCC). Also, your clients will lose a layer of protection should you commit a disciplinary offence, and this will actually reduce your creditability and chance of employment. In long term, your refusal to get registered will harm the profession and ultimately public interest. Therefore, LARB highly recommends all Members of HKILA to get registered.

I am a landscape architect recognized abroad. Can I call myself a “landscape architect” in Hong Kong?

No, you cannot use the “landscape architect” title in Hong Kong but you can call yourself a landscape architect by stating at the same time the country (also with the state or the province where applicable) that accredits your qualification as a landscape architect. However, this does not imply you have “the right to practise landscape architecture in Hong Kong under the description of landscape architect” [LARO S.29(3)].

I am a landscape architect recognized abroad. How can I become a landscape architect in Hong Kong?

You can become a Member of HKILA first, then apply to LARB to become registered, OR you can apply to LARB directly to become registered. If you choose the latter, you may subject to an assessment by LARB. The assessment is usually in form of an interview. The main objective of the interview is to assess whether you are suitable to be a landscape architect in the Hong Kong regime. Don’t forget Hong Kong has its own legal and Government administrative framework that concerns the everyday practice of a landscape architect in Hong Kong. In some cases, LARB may need more in-depth assessment on your application. LARB will need to assess your application on a case-by-case basis, and there is no formula. But it all goes down to the basics of whether your qualification fits into one of the categories under LARO [LARO S.12(1)(a)].

I have become a landscape architect in Hong Kong by getting registered by LARB. What would happen if I leave Hong Kong?

It depends on the nature of your absence. Your name may be removed from the register if you have, in the opinion of the Board, ceased to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong. If a registered landscape architect has failed to reside in Hong Kong for a period of 2 years or more, the Board shall not consider him to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong [LARO S.19(2)].

Can I make a complaint against a company to LARB?

If you make a disciplinary complaint against a company without stating the name of the RLA or RLA(s) you want to make a complaint of, LARB will be unable to process your complaint. LARB is empowered to deal with disciplinary complaints against individual RLAs only. Please make sure you state clearly the name of a RLA you want to make a complaint of. But if your complaint is about misuse of title by a company, for example, a company named XYZ Landscape Architects Ltd. without a RLA in its ownership or management, LARB will process your complaint [LARO S.29(4)].

Will LARB consider anonymous complaint against a RLA?

There is no explicit statement in LARO whether LARB should or should not deal with anonymous complaint. LARB will need to consider it on a case-by-case basis.

HKILA can deal with professional conduct and disciplinary offence of their Members on their own. Why do we still need LARB?

Not all landscape architects in Hong Kong are HKILA Members; individuals recognized as landscape architects abroad may apply to LARB directly to become registered. More importantly, LARB is the authority empowered by the laws of Hong Kong to deal with disciplinary offence of landscape architects. LARO details disciplinary proceedings like setting up of an “inquiry committee” & a “review committee”, carrying out hearings, issuing disciplinary orders etc.. An “inquiry committee” has certain powers similar to those of a court, like taking evidences on oath, summoning witnesses [LARO S.24]. Any person who is aggrieved by the decision or order made in respect of him under in the proceedings may appeal to the Court of Appeal [LARO S.28]. The formation of HKILA made landscape architects stepping towards the professional regime. The subsequent passing of LARO by LegCo and the formation of LARB further enhanced landscape architects to become a true, recognized profession in Hong Kong.

Disclaimer: This FAQ intends to give readers general understandings on some of the key questions concerning landscape architects and the registration. If you are concerning a particular case, you should  make your formal enquiry to LARB in writing. Your enquiry will be considered by LARB on a case-by-case basis.