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Party Wall Surveyor’s Letters of Appointment

Apr 25, 2022

In today’s topical party wall surveying blogpost topic, we are going to be looking at party wall surveyors statutory appointments.

All party wall surveyors will take this step and obtain a letter of appointment through the process of a Building Owner serving a Party Wall Notice or, alternatively, an Adjoining Owner responding to a Party Wall Notice.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 confirms as follows:

Section 10(1) & (2):

Where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen between a building owner and an adjoining owner in respect of any matter connected with any work to which this Act relates either

(a) both parties shall concur in the appointment of one surveyor (in this section referred to as an “agreed surveyor”); or

(b) each party shall appoint a surveyor and the two surveyors so appointed shall forthwith select a third surveyor (all of whom are in this section referred to as “the three surveyors”).

(2) All appointments and selections made under this section shall be in writing and shall not be rescinded by either party.

Effectively, the key point of information here is that an appointment has to be made in writing.

Commonly, these days electronic communication is more and more prevalent and generally speaking the primary point of contact the majority of people use.

Here at Stokemont, over the years we have seen a number of situations whereby party wall surveyor’s dispute their counterpart’s appointment, as it has been made via an e-mail.

First, taking such a stance is slightly ironic, given party wall surveyors are in place to resolve disputes and not create them. However, moreover the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is not actually specific in what constitutes ‘in writing’; simply that it must just be in that format.

Jump back to 1996 when the Act became effect, whilst the internet was about, it was nowhere near its maturity as it is today. Therefore, a natural evolution is that appointments should be accepted by party wall surveyors in electronic format.

It is also worth noting that these days, very rarely do we ever physically place ‘pen to paper’ and sign for anything.  Instead, with the various different technologies out there, whether it be some form of signable document, your finger on your phone, or even your mouse cursor on your screen, the need to actually sign by hand has dramatically evaporated.

Here at Stokemont we have actively jumped into the realm of the digital era and you will find that almost all, if not all of our party wall surveyor’s statutory appointments are indeed made via electronic means.

Not only does this make life easier for the appointing owner, it also makes it a lot more straightforward for the party wall surveyor to receive the statutory authority as per the legal requirements of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. Ultimately enabling them to get on with their statutory duty sooner rather than later and without the natural ‘snail mail’ delays that can come with Royal Mail post.

Another commonly disputed form of appointment is whereby someone will sign on behalf of a fellow owner.  A good example of this could be a husband signing on behalf of their wife, vice versa, or perhaps a family member signing on behalf of an elderly member of their family who may not be able to sign it themself.

Our take on it here at Stokemont is that so long as this is the norm for all signatures and it is not a single or standalone exception of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 etc, we see no reason why this manner of signature should not be accepted. In fact, we believe firmly that a good party wall surveyor should be working toward making the lives of their Appointing Owners more straightforward and simple, rather than picking faults in the wording of the Act or interpretation.

Party Wall surveying procedures on first glance can seem incredibly confusing and complicated.  It is worth noting that, in almost all cases, there is a clear route to resolution, it is just a matter of the party wall surveyor exercising professional care and duty, to ensure that route is quick and smooth.

Party wall surveyor’s appointment letters are key for every single party wall file that a surveyor is handling and we would therefore advise party wall surveyors take a proactive approach to the administration of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and move forward with the ever evolving digital environment we now work within.

Exercising such professional duty and care will ensure the procedures are not just quicker but ultimately smoother.

Here at Stokemont, over the years we have handled all types of party wall surveying matters, from straightforward to your incredibly complex.  We have acted on behalf of private Appointing Owners, to your multi-national blue chip firms.

If you are in the process of planning construction works, or perhaps your neighbour is, get in touch with us today and our team of qualified and experienced party wall surveyors will be more than happy to assist and advise you and ensure we are best placed to handle your party wall surveying matter.

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