When acting as a Party Wall Surveyor I often find that surveyors focus on their own opinions over the practical solution to disputes. At PWS Surveyors, we always aim be to reasonable and flexible in our approach to matters, provided that the end result is support within the Act.
It is interesting to read through the recent Judgement in case of SAI Ventures Limited vs Compar Properties Limited on the 19th of August 2016, whereby the decisions of the surveyors protracted the process and incurred costs that could have been avoided.
In practical terms, it is always worth considering the overall effect of your actions and the material or immaterial consequence of them. I believe that if surveyors act reasonably, there is little chance of ending up in Court and or matters not being resolved reasonably.
In this case the question was over the necessity of issuing new notices for a revised scheme when the original notices served resulted in dissents and surveyors being appointed. To this end, when looking in on the case, it would seem sensible, practical and not particularly difficult to serve the new notices required. Notices are what invoke the act and it is reasonable to suggest that a revised scheme may result in a different response from the adjoining owners. This being the case the surveyors would have unnecessarily taken forward an award and incurred costs on the building owner that may not have been reasonable.
That being said, if the surveyors are appointed to receive notices, I would question the real need for new notices to be served for this purpose and would perhaps suggest that this is a simple paperwork exercise that would have no material effect on any of the parties. That being said, either way, the service of new notices would have been a simplistic way to resolve the dispute between the surveyors.
This case does therefore highlight the importance of serving notices correctly, whether these are primary or secondary. Without a valid notice for the works in question there can be no award to resolve that dispute.
Judge Bailey, makes a point in this case that should determine the way in which practicing surveyors review notices, particularly those required subsequent to initial works or notices being served. I believe that there could have been different outcome to this if the surveyors had been acting practically to resolve the dispute rather than focusing on their personal differences which have resulted in a further dispute that was totally unnecessary.
So to conclude, where there is doubt, or reasonable request, as a practicing surveyor, one should always ensure that they are acting in the best interest of the parties, despite personal opinions and when unsure, refer to and rigidly apply the Act itself. When it comes to Notices, and the application of the Act thereafter, there is little doubt that notices, correctly relating to the works intended are the only way in which to invoke the Act. Thereby, if your notice does not over the issue you are resolving within an award, serve a new notice that does.
At PWS Surveyors we are happy to advise on the application of notices as we firmly believe that whilst many building owners and adjoining owners only want to ensure the legislation is followed, by being practical and helpful, we can strive to better understanding and application of the Act.