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UK Surveyors & Valuers Professional Negligence

To prove a claim for professional negligence against a professional person it is necessary to show that there exists a duty of care between the parties which is usually satisfied by the normal client relationship and to show that negligence has occurred, which in its simplest of terms means behaviour falling below a reasonable standard, leading directly to actual or anticipated financial loss.

Surveyors

The most common court action for surveyors professional negligence relates to property surveys which fail to disclose defects that are expensive to resolve. If a surveyor has been negligent, by not pointing out structural or other defects, you may be able to issue legal proceedings for professional negligence. It should be noted however that the courts may only award the difference in value between a property in fair condition and the defective property rather than the actual cost of rectifying the defect.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the National Association of Valuers and Surveyors (NAVA) deal with complaints and discipline within the surveyors profession but are able to offer a method of claiming compensation in the law courts for professional negligence by a surveyor.

Many surveys that are dealt with on a minimalist basis are qualified as such and do not represent a full structural survey which would be considerably more expensive. If a client expects a full and detailed structural survey they should give instructions for a full and detailed structural survey failing which they will receive a basic report on the property without considering structural matters unless they are so obvious that they cannot be ignored.

Most of the work of surveyors involves the preparation of building surveys and valuation reports for both potential purchasers and their banks or building societies. It should be noted that a surveyor can’t always find every fault in every building due to accessibility difficulties – unless they are instructed to provide a full and detailed structural survey they will not drill holes in walls, pull up floorboards, knock off masonry, dig trenches or take any personal risks.

A surveyor will only be considered to be negligent if they have failed to act with the degree of care and skill to be expected of a reasonably competent surveyor. Examples of professional negligence by surveyors include :-

  • Failing to inspect the property properly
  • Failing to observe obvious visible defects in the property
  • Failing to identify dry rot, woodworm, cracking and subsidence
  • Failing to make sufficient enquiries
  • Producing an inadequate or defective report
  • Failing to warn of items require further investigation

Valuers

The most common legal action for a valuers professional negligence relates to property valuations which fail to disclose problems that may be costly to resolve. If a valuer has been negligent, by not pointing out inadequacies that cost money to rectify, you may be able to issue legal proceedings for professional negligence against the valuer to claim back the financial costs incurred. Most valuers do however qualify their reports and do not purport to supply a full structural survey.

It should be noted that a valuer will only be considered to be negligent if they have failed to act with the degree of care and skill to be expected of a reasonably competent valuer. Since valuation is not an exact science not every error will be regarded as negligent. If a client expects a full and detailed structural survey they should employ a qualified surveyor with instructions to carry out a full and detailed structural survey however that will be considerably more costly than a valuer whose brief is usually to report on the intrinsic value of a property without considering structural matters unless they are so obvious that they cannot be ignored.

The two main professional associations for qualified valuers are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the National Association of Valuers and Surveyors (NAVA). These organisations deal with complaints and discipline for most valuers and auctioneers but neither of them are able to offer a method of claiming damages in a court of law for professional negligence by a valuer. For More Information Visit: Disputed probate solicitors

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