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​ARB strikes architect off register for keeping money overpaid by client

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 The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has stricken an architect from its register for three years after he was found to have kept money overpaid by a client

Cristobal Mendoza Cruz, principal of Menza Architecture in Ealing, west London, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct at Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) hearings held on 7 and 8 November in London.

The committee found five allegations of unacceptable professional conduct against Mendoza Cruz to have been proved.

The first was that he failed to comply with a ‘reasonable demand’ to refund an overpayment for a domestic extension to his client. He then ‘inappropriately’ suggested in a letter in March that he would only return the overpaid money if the complaint to the ARB was withdrawn.

The PCC went on to prove allegations that Mendoza Cruz had failed to account for the overpaid money since September 2015 and that he failed to prove the money was kept in a separate client account.

It also found that Mendoza Cruz had failed to promote the website of his practice, Menza Architecture Limited, in a truthful manner. At the time, the website stated that the practice was made up of a ‘team of ARB Registered Architects’, yet he was the only one on the register.

During the hearings, Mendoza Cruz – who has still not repaid the money and refused to do so while the complaint was ongoing – denied all the allegations against him and did not apologise to his client.

The PCC ruling stated: ‘In the light of his steadfast and ongoing refusal to repay the complainant, the committee considers that the respondent has displayed an entrenched and severe lack of integrity.

‘The respondent’s actions have caused the complainant significant financial and emotional stress and she had found the respondent’s manner particularly upsetting.’

It added that Mendoza Cruz’s failings were ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with being a registered architect, recommending that he should not be considered for readmission to the ARB for a minimum of three years.

Mendoza Cruz refused to comment on the ruling.

Read the full ruling here

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