Can I review the Party Wall Award?

Oct 15, 2021

In today’s property surveying blog post topic we are going to be discussing party wall surveying procedures and in particular the agreement of party wall awards.

A Party Wall Award also commonly referred to in layman’s terms as a party wall agreement is the conclusion of the party wall process.

The Party Wall Award itself will set out the various different provisions and precautions that the building owner needs to ensure that his contractor abides to during the course of their works. The award, will also ensure that the adjoining has the full protections that the Party Wall etc Act 1996 affords them.

In effect, the Party Wall Award governs the proposed works that are taking place.

In accordance with Section 10 of the Party Wall etc Act 1996; in the event of a dispute post party wall notice service the adjoining owner will dissent and appoint a Party Wall Surveyor.

At that point it is the Party Wall Surveyor’s legal duty and statutory role to administer the party wall procedures on behalf of their appointing owner.

In taking on this duty, the party wall survey will affectively act impartially and in accordance with the wording of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 to ensure that the procedures as set out by the act are administered fairly and reasonably.

Furthermore, in making this appointment, the appointing owners are giving the Party Wall Surveyor the legal duty to agree matters pertinent to the Party Wall Award on their behalf.

For this reason, Party Wall Awards are not shared with the appointing owners in advance of their legal service.

If a Party Wall Surveyor was to opt to share the Party Wall Award with their respective appointing owners prior to the Awards agreement and service, they would actually be prejudicing Section 10(17) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 which sets out 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 the event that the Party Wall Surveyor did share the Party Wall Award with their appointing owners, the reality is the owners will likely have some form of input or request that may be outside the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996’s coverage.

This would effectively mean that if there was a dispute within the Party Wall Award whereby the very premise and purpose of the Party Wall Award itself is to actually resolve dispute.

For that reason, it is incredibly uncommon for Party Wall Surveyors to share Party Wall Awards with their appointing owners in advance of the Party Wall Award service, as it would effectively create a situation whereby facilitating non Act requests that are outside the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 could actually effect the validity and standing of the Party Wall Award as a bona fide legal document.

In accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996, once the Party Wall Award has been served the owners to which it has been served upon are given 14 statutory calendar days to review and if necessary appeal the Party Wall Award.

The appeal itself would need to take place via the courts and would effectively be done on the proviso and understanding that the award itself has been incorrectly agreed and is in effect invalid.

A lot of owners tend to struggle with this idea as in effect they like to have a hands on approach and objective input into the agreement of the Party Wall Award.

The best way to look at this, would be that Party Wall Surveyors can often be in difficult situations whereby owners may want specific inclusions into the Party Wall Award that through the eyes of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 would be unreasonable, however could also impose unfair restrictions or provisions on either the building owner or adjoining owner.

Therefore Party Wall Awards while legal documents will remain relatively standard across the board and effectively only set out the elements of the work that fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc Act.

Given that the Party Wall Act empowers a Party Wall Surveyor to make these provisions, and furthermore the Act requires appointing owners to appoint a Surveyor of necessary understanding and experience, it is perfectly reasonable for that surveyor to make and agree the Award on behalf of its appointing owners.

Party Wall Surveyors through the eyes of the Act don’t require any formal type of qualification, or experience for that matter.

It is therefore imperative that appointing owners, both building owner and adjoining owner do their necessary research on their Party Wall Surveyor and go through a robust selection process to ensure that they are selecting the best person for the job with the necessary experience and credentials.

If you would like to discuss your Party Wall Surveying procedures with us.  Perhaps you were planning on undertaking works, or perhaps your neighbour is planning on undertaking works.  Give us a call today and one of our experienced Party Wall Surveyors will be more than happy to assist you.