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Third Surveyor Referral Fact Sheet

Aug 5, 2022

Thank you for clicking on today’s property blog.  Through today’s informative blog post we are going to be discussing party wall surveying procedures.

In particular, we are going to be looking at the protocols and procedures that come into play when a third surveyor referral is made. 

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, for every party wall job or file where there are two respective party wall surveyors on board, the building owner’s surveyor and the adjoining owner’s surveyor, there will always be a third party wall surveyor selected and in place.

Third surveyors are selected at the start of the procedures and discussions by both the building owner’s party wall surveyor and adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor. 

The third surveyor is in place and selected at that stage to step in, mediate and resolve any disputes between the building owner and adjoining owner or building owner’s party wall surveyor and adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor.  Or, any combination of those four respective parties. 

In order for the third surveyor to formally determine and resolve a matter in dispute, a formal referral to him or her must be made.

The formal referral will usually come in the form of one of the parties formally writing to the third surveyor to confirm the need for his or her input into the resolution of a matter.

In this blog post we are going to be looking at some of the typical phraseology and terminology used through the course of a third surveyor referral so that you are fully abreast and aware of the procedures and protocols in that regard.  

Building Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor

The building owner’s party wall surveyor will be acting wholly on behalf of the building owner. 

It is worth noting that the party wall surveyor’s role is one of impartiality, however the building owner’s surveyor will be tasked with administering the Party Wall Act and progressing matters towards the agreement of a Party Wall Award. 

Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor

The adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor will act wholly on behalf of the adjoining owner. 

Their role is to administer the Act on behalf of the adjoining owner.  Work with the building owner’s surveyor and ultimately agree a Party Wall Award as a conclusion of the process. 

Third Surveyor

Third surveyors are in place on each and every party wall job where there are two respective party wall surveyors on board. 

As set out above, the third surveyor will be selected at the start of the respective surveyor’s discussions.

Unbeknown to the owners, the third surveyor will never formally be appointed or instructed until a formal dispute arises.

In many cases, the third surveyor will have no idea or knowledge that they have indeed been selected in respect of the matter in dispute.

Third Surveyor Referral

A third surveyor referral occurs when the building owner, the adjoining owner, the building owner’s party wall surveyor, or the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor formally refer a matter in dispute to the third surveyor for resolution and determination. 

The referral procedures will not start until the third surveyor has responded and acknowledged the referral, thereby setting out the procedures that he requires a respective referrer to follow. 

Risk

Third surveyor referrals do carry a risk with them. This risk can come in the form of costs, time and expense.

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the third surveyor will have the jurisdiction to award both his own fees, as well as the fees of the respective referrers.

These can include, however are not limited to:

  • The building owner’s party wall surveyor’s fees;
  • The adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor’s fees;
  • Any advising professional’s fees. 

The fees would be dealt with via the third surveyor’s Party Wall Award along with the determination of the matter that has been referred to him. 

Appealing of Third Surveyor’s Award

The third surveyor’s Award will be binding.  However, the respective parties do have the legal right to appeal the Award under Section 10(17) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 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.

The premise of the owners and surveyors having the legal right to appeal the Award, is that if they believe there is invalidity or error within it, they are given a vessel to hold the third surveyor to account in that regard. 

Party Wall Surveyor’s Referral

Assuming it is the respective party wall surveyors who formalise the third surveyor referral, each one of those respective party wall surveyors will have their own referral that they submit to a third surveyor for consideration and ultimately resolution.

The referral will usually set out the party wall surveyor’s position and opinion on the dispute at hand, validating or arguing their case and putting forward their reasoning behind their position. 

The third surveyor will usually given both respective party wall surveyors the opportunity to review and respond to one another’s referral in an effort of getting to a mediated outcome. 

Informal Discussion

The majority of renowned third party surveyors will often give both the building owner’s surveyor and adjoining owner’s surveyor the opportunity to have off the record and informal discussion with them.

This is often done in an open capacity with both respective party wall surveyors being present during a call.

The premise being that a quick discussion may be able to avoid a full blown formal referral.  Aiding in the resolution of the matter. 

It goes without saying, that third surveyor referrals carry with them both a cost risk and the necessary stresses and issues that can come with formal dispute resolution in this manner. 

Here at Stokemont, while third surveyor referrals are usually a natural part of the party wall procedures, effort and aim should be made to avoid them at all costs. 

If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of qualified and experienced party wall surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today and we would be more than happy to assist and advise you.

We are also very happy to offer 30 minutes free no obligation party wall surveying advice.  To take us up on this offer, all you need to do is get in touch with us via our contact page and we will be more than happy to assist, discuss and advise.

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