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Can a Party Wall Agreement be Refused?

Sep 16, 2022

Thank you, for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blog.  In today’s instalment of our weekly blogpost, we are going to be looking at party wall surveying.

In particular, we are going to be taking a look at the procedures surrounding the agreement and service of Party Wall Agreements, these are also commonly referred to as Party Wall Awards.

The Party Wall Agreement is a legal document, which is either prepared and served by a single party wall surveyor, acting in his or her capacity as an agreed surveyor.

Alternatively, the Party Wall Award can be agreed by two respective party wall surveyors, acting wholly on behalf of their appointing owners, the building owner or the adjoining owner.

A Party Wall Award can only be agreed post Party Wall Notice dissent, whereby a building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner, with the adjoining owner electing and opting to dissent to that Party Wall Notice.

Following the Party Wall Notice dissent the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors, will then go through various different procedures and protocols to review the building owner’s planned construction works from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property, ensuring that the risks associated with those works are as low as they possibly can be.

Party Wall Award, or Party Wall Agreement procedures will include and follows:

Party Wall Procedures

  • Information review
  • Construction drawing review
  • Contractor method statement review
  • Schedule of Condition reports
  • Drafting of the Party Wall Award
  • Commenting on the Party Wall Award
  • Agreeing and serving the Party Wall Award
  • Interim property inspections
  • Post-Schedule of Condition report check-off

All of these procedures and protocols will ensure that the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors, are fully abreast of the works, and ultimately reduce the risk of impact to the adjoining owner’s property associated with the works.

It is important to note that once a Party Wall Award is agreed, the Award is definitive and conclusive.

This effectively means that the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors, are unlikely to engage in having a discussion surrounding the content of the Party Wall Award, nor can it be amended or revised.

A typical question that we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont is whether an adjoining owner can refuse a Party Wall Award.

From a legal perspective, an adjoining owner does not have the legal right to refuse a Party Wall Award, owing to the fact that it has been agreed by a party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors acting on behalf of the respective owners.

However, that being said, an adjoining owner does have the legal right to appeal the Party Wall Award.

Section 10(17) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 gives grounds as follows:

Either of the parties to the dispute may, within the period of fourteen days beginning with the day on which an award made under this section is served on him, appeal to the county court against the award and the county court may— (a) rescind the award or modify it in such manner as the court thinks fit; and (b) make such order as to costs as the court thinks fit.

In layman’s terms, what this means is either owner (the building owner or the adjoining owner), has the legal right to appeal a Party Wall Award within 14 days of its service.

Party Wall Award appeals are an incredibly rare occurrence, and are generally reserved for scenarios whereby there is invalidity, the Award has been agreed improperly, or another scenario arising from surveyor fault in the preparation and service of the Party Wall Award.

It is important to note that once a Party Wall Agreed has been agreed and is in place, the building owner then gains the legal right to commence their planned construction works, and in particular the party wall element of the construction works, without the need to further delay or go through any formal procedure as set out by the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

What this means in practice, is that in the majority of cases, as soon as the building owner has been furnished and serviced with a Party Wall Award, they are likely to commence the planned works as soon as possible.

Part of the conventional requirements of a Party Wall Award, is that the building owner’s contractor, or subcontractors, are made aware of the content and protective clauses that the Award will set out.

The aim and intent of this is to ensure that specific protective provisions that the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors, have introduced do not go overlooked, and are ultimately adhered to in order to reduce the risk of damage to the adjoining owner’s property.

So, to jump back to the title of this blogpost, a Party Wall Award cannot be refused, however it can be appealed.

As we set out previously, Party Wall Award appeals are incredibly rare, and in all the time and the years that we have been agreeing Party Wall Awards, there are less than a couple of occasions whereby an Award has indeed been appealed.

Party Wall Awards are one of the few legal documents that can be prepared completely by party wall surveyors, and free from the impact of legal practitioners such as solicitors, or barristers.

This is a key point to bear in mind, as there are not many Acts under statute that give surveyors the powers and duties.

If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of experienced party wall surveyors, you can give us a call today, or alternatively you can send us an email,we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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