Expert Witness Work

A surveyor was first used as an expert witness in 1782 in the case of Folkes & Chadd.  The case looked at whether farmers should be responsible for the silting of Wells Harbour.  Since that time, surveyors have worked as expert witnesses on many occasions and on a wide variety of subjects.

 

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness is anyone who has specialist knowledge of a particular subject upon which he or she may give an opinion.  This opinion is usually made available to the court and as chartered surveyors, Grumitt Wade is often called upon as RICS expert witnesses to help in disputes which may involve litigation.

 

When are RICS expert witnesses needed?

RICS expert witnesses are required in all sorts of cases.  However, we can naturally only get involved within our field of expertise.  For example, I have been asked to be an expert witness on matters such as valuations, boundary disputes, defective building works, party wall issues and so on.

 

What does an RICS expert witness surveyor do?

Usually, we will visit the property at the centre of the dispute and try to gather all available information.  We then put together a report which complies with Practice Direction 35 as set out in the Civil Procedure Rules. Practice Direction 35 requires all expert witnesses to be disinterested, a court will often ask for a single joint expert and when this happens, the appointment comes from the court.

 

How much does an expert witness cost?

Using an expert witness is not cheap.  This is mainly because we are often used in conjunction with a solicitor and, put simply, court cases are expensive.

 

What if the report doesn’t support my case?

From time to time, I am asked to report on an issue and I do not agree that my client has a case.  For this reason, we always recommend that we carry out a brief report at the beginning which will give our initial findings.  This means that if we don’t think the case has any legs, our client has a chance to pull out before things get more expensive.

 

Who is responsible for the surveyor’s fees?

Initially, our client is responsible for our fees.  However, a solicitor will usually try to recover the fees of all professionals concerned, should the case go to court.  In the end, it is the judge who decides who is responsible for the fees.

 

What are the legal obligations of the expert witness once the report has been finalised?

We always owe our clients a duty of care.  You have a right to expect us to act in a professional manner and you should not suffer harm because of incompetence or negligence.  We have a very strong legal obligation towards our client and the courts when we act as an expert witness;  this is something we do not take lightly.

 

Instructing an expert witness

As a rule, we prefer our instruction to come from a solicitor.  This is because the solicitor is able to direct our report to the matter in hand and ensure that it stays pertinent.

We will always give a quotation and before we arrive on site, we prefer to have read all relevant documents.  We can usually write our initial report at this stage.  If needed, we can later write a report for use in court, from the information we have gathered.

We will also be available to attend court but usually matters are settled before it gets this far.

 

Types of cases

  • Tenants failure to maintain
  • Surveyor failure to identify large quantities of hazardous material
  • Misrepresentation by a Seller of a house
  • Surveyor negligence when completing most forms of house survey product
  • Loan Valuer over-valuation cases
  • To establish where dry-rot had spread from, and why
  • Inadequate reporting standards within level 2 Homebuyer Report formats
  • Failure of a Local Authority to maintain property
  • Personal injury case – valuation matters to establish the lifetime effect on property decisions
  • Building damage due to works being completed in the adjoining property

Dispute Resolution

When a dispute arises, careful consideration should be given before embarking on a course of dispute resolution. Is it worthwhile spending time and money on it? Can the opposing party afford to pay out? If dispute resolution is the only option there are a number of options available including adjudication, arbitration, litigation, mediation or negotiation, any of which a surveyor may be able to help with.

 

Boundary Issues

Often a source of neighbour dispute, we can help you with defining or identifying boundaries, interpreting plans in both conveyances and at the Land Registry, and act as an expert if your dispute needed to progress to a court. The causes of a dispute in this area often involve one or more of the following: hedges, party walls, boundary lines, planning permission, or a change in ownership.

 

We can advise on issues arising from boundary disputes, including how boundaries are defined and how they can be identified. We can also explain the role of plans in both conveyances and at the Land Registry and give detailed practical advice on measuring boundaries. We can also draft an expert's report and appear in court if required.

 

Boundary Disputes arise when two different parties, usually property owners, have a disagreement on the location, width, ownership or maintenance liabilities of the boundary line.

Boundaries are generally set by determining features such as a fence, wall, hedge, driveway, tree, post or even a stone marker.

 

Over the years of the property ownership and various different occupants, the boundaries can often be moved, diverted, adjusted and even overgrown. While the legal boundary line will always be indicated on the Land Registry Title Plan, often these will be to a very high scale, usually 1 to 1,250.

 

In practice, this means that when a Surveyor attempts to determine the boundary the boundary line using Land Registry Title Plan scale, there can be as much as a one metre wide uncertainty as to where the true boundary line lies.

 

The first point to remember is that this isn’t an uncommon position, nor an untested position to be in.

 

Boundary disputes have been present for as long as there have been boundary lines and as such there are a number of tried and tested methods to resolve the dispute.

 

We would first recommend approaching the counterpart to the boundary dispute directly. At this stage it is important to gain a clear understanding of their position on the location, maintenance or position of the boundary.

 

Once the basis of the boundary dispute has been established you can then proceed to having the dispute resolved.

 

Before visiting site our Surveying team will have undertaken extensive research to ensure that when we undertake our inspection we are fully informed on anything pertinent to the dispute. Whether this be historic planning records, land registry documentation or ordinance survey maps, we will have the facts to hand.

 

During the inspection our Surveyor will fully inspect the site and will be able to establish the existence of fences, walls, hedges, trees, posts or even stone markers. We will also undertake comprehensive measurements and a photographic record to ensure we are fully informed on the lay of the land.

 

Having now had the opportunity to undertake both pre-site investigation and thorough site inspection, the Surveyor will compile a comprehensive report that will give a clear and impartial view on his or her opinion of the location of the boundary line.

Negligence

A valuer or surveyor who carries out professional work will almost invariably owe a duty of care and skill to the client, either as an express or implied term of the contract under which the work is to be done or, in the common situation where there is no such express term, as a term implied into that contract. If the work is not carried out to the required standards of reasonable care and skill, this will constitute a breach of contract. The client may also be entitled to claim under the tort of negligence. We will be able to advise on duty of care, breach of duty, defences, and mitigation and contribution in negligence cases, and provide advice on the extent of liability for negligence; damages for negligent surveys and the 'margin of error' approach to establishing negligence against valuers.

 

Contact us

If you have any queries or wish to make an appointment, please contact us:

 

01332 411 554

 

2nd Floor

Lisbon House

5 - 7 St Mary's Gate

Derby

Derbyshire

DE1 3JA

 

info@bakemans.co.uk

 

Or use our contact form.

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Contact us

If you have any queries or wish to make an appointment, please contact us:

 

01332 411 554

 

2nd Floor

Lisbon House

5 - 7 St Mary's Gate

Derby

Derbyshire

DE1 3JA

 

info@bakemans.co.uk

 

Or use our contact form.

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