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The Statutory & Quasi-Judicial role of the Party Wall Surveyor


A building owner has extensive rights under the party wall act including  rights to entry but to exercise these rights  they must serve notices upon any affected adjoining owner.  The adjoining owner then has reciprocal rights.  When a dispute arises both owners must select a surveyor and then the first duty of the two surveyors is to select a third surveyor and if they can’t agree the Party Wall Act allows the Local authority officer to make the appointment. 

The question then arises of what is a Party Wall Surveyor and how to find and appoint one ; Party Wall Surveyors should be correctly qualified and must reflect on their practice and what better way to do this than by a blog or posts.  Some organisations consider any one can be a party wall surveyor and argue that a wall can be raised downwards etc but Bruce offers satirical advice against such stances and why you should avoid inadequate Party Wall Surveyors. The surveyors should be expert in dispute resolution, risk analysis and the psychology of disputes.

An owner who appoints an inadequate party wall surveyor will cause the dispute to escalate, for example if a surveyor requires a checking engineer.

Once validly appointed the two surveyors should then visit site and consider the impact of the Building Owner’s works on the Adjoining Owner and take a schedule of conditions.  They should then agree an award which allows the Building Owner to expeditiously proceed with their lawful works whilst full recognising and protecting the interests of the Adjoining Owner.

The Party Wall Award settles the dispute and may include the fee of the surveyors and therefore allows the surveyors to recover fees and of course for owners to contest Party Wall Surveyors who claim unreasonable fees.  The adjoining owner may request security for expenses which can take many forms but notably by escrow and bond and payment for works done

If a Building Owner does not serve  notices a prohibitory injunction should be sought.

The Party Wall Act is a statute; it should be read pedantically but it can of course be interpreted by case law and by reference to other statutes.  The act does not interfere with easements, but legal principles, statutes, regulations and law do apply ie estoppelnegligenceConsumer ProtectionMisrepresentation.  The act has a long history, as can be better understood by viewing its chronology and the first party wall surveyors can be traced back a millennium. Bruce has produced a guide for owners, surveyors and aspirant Party Wall Surveyors.  There is currently one amendment to the act which allows for electronic communications

There is a need for a new learned institute for Party Wall Surveyors which could be provided by the Institute of Architecture and Surveying of the Chartered Institute of Building.

Party Wall Surveyor serving Thanet and London

Third Surveyor serving England and Wales

Bruce Spenser MSc LCGI
Bruce Spenser MSc LCGI