Disputes & Expert Witness Reports
If you are unfortunate enough to become involved in a dispute there comes a point when you need expert advice on the particular technical/professional merits of your case. If your dispute is centred on a property related matter, then we have within the firm, experienced surveyors who can provide such assistance on a number of matters. All of our surveyors who give expert evidence, and/or prepare expert reports, have attended Court hearings, and most have given evidence - in some cases on many occasions.
Our surveyors are known within the legal community locally and nationally, and are also recognised by the Law Society as competent experts under the checked expert scheme. They are familiar with the Civil Procedure Rules of the Court and can act as a sole party expert or a single joint expert, whichever the Court requires.
Often a dispute can be resolved without the need to go to Court and sometimes even without assistance of a solicitor. Getting your expert advice early can help you to understand the strengths and merits of your position and may even dispel some of your misconceptions, or those of the other party.
The surveyors who prepare expert reports also work on their specialisms on a day to day basis which helps them to keep in touch with changes and keeps their expert knowledge relevant and fresh.
The areas in which we can provide expert evidence are:
Building / Construction Disputes
Many people, particularly householders, enter into contracts with builders to undertake extensions or alterations to their property, without professional involvement. When problems arise and the relationship breaks down the dispute often centres around standards of workmanship or the cost of works. These disputes can usually be successfully negotiated to a satisfactory conclusion without the need to go to Court, if expert advice is sought early on.
Rights to Light
You may well have heard the term “Right to Light” which may appear relatively straightforward but is actually quite complex with many misconceptions as to when it exists and how it is measured. These misconceptions include “the 45º line”, the use of light meters and that the effect of a development can only be measured once it has been constructed. To avoid these mistakes and many others relating to a proposed development early expert opinion is essential.
In this crowded country, people can become sensitive about protecting their home or other buildings and land. Boundary disputes are unfortunately common and are often borne out of misconceptions as to how a boundary between two properties is defined, the most common of which is that ownership is defined by the Land Registry plans.
To help you understand the extent of your property and location of your boundaries, early advice is essential and a negotiated settlement preferred, as once a dispute is over your neighbour is still your neighbour.
Party Wall Disputes
Thankfully, party wall disputes rarely go to Court or require expert opinion. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 includes a procedure for resolving party wall disputes which is relatively straight forward, and usually satisfactory to the parties (see Party Wall Surveyors for further information).
In property disputes the measure of damages is often related to the value of the property and how it is diminished by the presence of the problem which is the subject of the dispute. In some cases an opinion on value may be the subject of the dispute perhaps where it is alleged that a mortgage valuation has been undertaken negligently. We can provide the valuation advice necessary for these expert disputes either as an addition to the expert opinion on building matters or when it is the subject of a dispute itself.
Dilapidations is the term given to a claim by the Landlord against the tenant on the termination of a lease for damages arising out of failure to comply with the covenants of the lease. Although dilapidations have potential to proceed to Court for settlement, they are usually successfully negotiated to a conclusion, but if necessary we can provide a report of expert opinion for Court purposes. (see Dilapidations for further information).
As well as boundaries and rights to light, neighbours can fall out with each other on other matters usually related around property and buildings. If you have some peculiar problem, which does not fall under the particular headings above please do contact us to discuss whether we can help.
On occasions, a purchaser of a new building, who has been sensible enough to have it surveyed beforehand, will find some problem arises on taking occupation. The feeling may be that the surveyor should have identified the problem and brought it to the attention of the purchaser and a claim for negligence is made. Our experts as practicing surveyors are able to give opinion on these disputes whether you are the claimant or defendant.
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