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Party Wall act Interpretation

Party Wall Surveyors must interpret the act via its wording, case law, section 20; interpretation and its spirit which is contained within its second reading in the house of Lords

The spirit of the act is as follows:

  • Extend from London to England and Wales
  • Jurisdiction to Party Wall Surveyors
  • To avoid courts
  • not affect
    • title
    • common law rights of support
    • non party walls
    • statute
    • easements
  • A safety net not a fiery hoop and can not deal with:
    • dogs
    • children
    • trees
    • personal animosity
  • A procedure to be followed
  • A schedule of Conditions is triggered and required
  • Party Wall Surveyors’s duty is quasi-arbitral
  • not a licence to charge excessive fees – prior agreement on charges
  • Voluntary – no summary enforcement
  • County court to be used when owners fail in their voluntary duty
  • Un-appealed award is strong prima facie evidence of its reasonableness
  • failsafe mechanism of dispute procedures
  • to assume agreement
  • cost effective and cheapest option other than more expensive options, freer from risk than litigation
  • safeguards and rights to owners
  • The Term Surveyor
    • The term “surveyor” means anybody acting on behalf of the building owner and adjoining owner or appointed to settle disputes. It could be an architect or solicitor. It could even be a lay person with no technical qualifications.
    • “surveyor” means a competent or a relevant professional person. However, it does not say that in the Bill. I find that very surprising when we think of the seriousness of the subject. The Bill simply refers to a “person”. That person could be either competent or incompetent
    • The definition of a surveyor has been given a certain amount of thought. The difficulty is to provide a test of competence in the Bill. I particularly note what the Minister said about the advantages of the provision being open. I am certainly prepared to consider the matter again. However, it raises problems which may not be easily overcome.
    • What is a Party Wall Surveyor, how to appoint them and the importance of due diligence
  • Dovetails in Access to Neighbouring Land Act.
  • create business like relations between neighbours

Section 20 Interpretation.

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them—

  • adjoining owner” and “adjoining occupier” respectively mean any owner and any occupier of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the building owner and for the purposes only of section 6 within the distances specified in that section;
  • appointing officer” means the person appointed under this Act by the local authority to make such appointments as are required under section 10(8);
  • “building owner” means an owner of land who is desirous of exercising rights under this Act;
  • “foundation”, in relation to a wall, means the solid ground or artificially formed support resting on solid ground on which the wall rests;
  • “owner” includes—(a)a person in receipt of, or entitled to receive, the whole or part of the rents or profits of land;(b)a person in possession of land, otherwise than as a mortgagee or as a tenant from year to year or for a lesser term or as a tenant at will;(c)a purchaser of an interest in land under a contract for purchase or under an agreement for a lease, otherwise than under an agreement for a tenancy from year to year or for a lesser term;
  • party fence wall” means a wall (not being part of a building) which stands on lands of different owners and is used or constructed to be used for separating such adjoining lands, but does not include a wall constructed on the land of one owner the artificially formed support of which projects into the land of another owner;
  • party structure” means a party wall and also a floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached solely by separate staircases or separate entrances;
  • party wall” means—(a)a wall which forms part of a building and stands on lands of different owners to a greater extent than the projection of any artificially formed support on which the wall rests; and(b)so much of a wall not being a wall referred to in paragraph (a) above as separates buildings belonging to different owners;
  • “special foundations” means foundations in which an assemblage of beams or rods is employed for the purpose of distributing any load; and
  • surveyor” means any person not being a party to the matter appointed or selected under section 10 to determine disputes in accordance with the procedures set out in this Act.

Party Wall Surveyor serving Thanet and London

Third Surveyor serving England and Wales

Bruce Spenser MSc LCGI
Bruce Spenser MSc LCGI