Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Albert Green, Judge Presiding.
Rehearing Denied December 8, 1995. Released for Publication December 21, 1995. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied April 3, 1996.
The Honorable Justice Theis delivered the opinion of the court: Cahill and O'brien, S., JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Theis
JUSTICE THEIS delivered the opinion of the court:
This appeal arises out of an action filed by the plaintiffs, James L. Kaplan and Sheldon Sorosky, doing business as Firehouse Building Ventures ("Owners"), against the defendant, Tabb Associates, Inc. ("Tabb, Inc."), to enjoin arbitration between them and to have the parties' contract declared void due to the failure of Tabb, Inc., to be licensed under the Illinois Architecture Practice Act of 1989 ("Act"). (225 ILCS 305/21 (West 1992).) Tabb, Inc., filed a motion for summary judgment. The circuit court granted the motion finding that the purpose of the Act had been fulfilled because the sole owner of the corporation, Gregory A. Tabb, was a licensed architect. Theplaintiffs now appeal arguing that the defendant provided architectural services in violation of the clear and unambiguous language of the Act because it failed to obtain a license from the Department of Professional Regulation, thereby rendering the contract void. We agree and hold that the language of the Act is mandatory because it carries a criminal penalty for noncompliance. As such, Tabb, Inc., may not enforce the contract at issue. Therefore, we reverse the judgment and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
The plaintiffs and Tabb, Inc., entered into a "Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect" ("Agreement") on April 1, 1993. The plaintiffs hired Tabb, Inc., to renovate an old firehouse in Chicago to serve as the plaintiffs' law office. Tabb, Inc., served as the architectural and construction manager on the project until the parties had a disagreement. The plaintiffs then terminated Tabb, Inc., who in turn initiated arbitration against the plaintiffs pursuant to an arbitration clause in the Agreement.
It is undisputed that Tabb, Inc., is an Illinois corporation engaged in the practice of architecture. Tabb, Inc., concedes that it was not licensed pursuant to the Act at any time relevant to this case. However, Tabb's sole owner, Gregory Tabb, who oversaw the project and drawings for the plaintiffs had been a licensed architect in Illinois since 1980.
The sole question on review is whether a corporation engaged in the practice of architecture can enforce a contract for architectural services when it is not licensed as required by the Illinois Architecture Practice Act of 1989. Section 21 of the Act provides in relevant part:
"Any corporation not formed under the provisions of the Professional Service Corporation Act and not licensed as such with the Department, and which includes the practice of architecture within its stated purposes, practices, or holds itself out as available to practice architecture, shall obtain a license from the Department under this Section.
(c) No corporation or partnership shall practice or hold itself out as available to practice architecture until it is licensed with the Department." 225 ILCS 305/21 (West 1992).
The defendant contends that the plaintiffs improperly emphasize form over substance. The defendant further claims that it substantially complied with the terms of the Act because Gregory Tabb, a licensed architect and sole owner of Tabb, Inc., managed all of the architectural work for the plaintiffs. As such, the defendant urges this court to find the contract valid and uphold the trial court's order entering summary judgment in its favor.
In order to address the parties' contentions, we turn to basic principles of statutory construction to determine whether section 21 of the Act is mandatory or directory. There is no universal formula for differentiating between mandatory and directive statutes. ( Cooper v. Department of Children and Family Services (1992), 234 Ill. App. 3d 474, 599 N.E.2d 537, 174 Ill. Dec. 753.) Rather, courts must look to the intent of the legislature, "which is ascertained by examining the nature and object of the statute and the consequences which would result from any given construction." Cooper, 234 Ill. App. 3d at 481, 599 N.E.2d at 542; see also Pullen v. Mulligan (1990), 138 Ill. 2d 21, 46, 561 N.E.2d 585, 595, 149 Ill. Dec. 215.
The Illinois General Assembly has declared that the practice of architecture affects the public health, safety and welfare and is subject to regulation and control in the public interest. (225 ILCS 305/2 (West 1992).) Section 2 of the Act indicates that it shall be liberally construed to best carry out the outlined subjects and purposes. 225 ILCS 305/2 (West 1992).
" liberal construction is ordinarily one which makes a statute apply to more things or in more situations than would be the case under a strict construction." (3 N. Singer, Sutherland on Statutory Construction § 58.02, at 72 (5th ed. 1992).) When public safety legislation is at issue, courts must adopt a liberal construction in order to afford broad protection to those the statute was designed to protect. 3 N. Singer, Sutherland on Statutory Construction § 58.04, at 80 (5th ed. 1992); Dodson v. Shaw (1983), 113 Ill. App. 3d ...