Professional Negligence

Claims against Surveyors and Valuers

Buying a home or a commercial property is a big investment. If you subsequently realise that your surveyor made an error it can lead to disastrous financial consequences for you or your business.

Do I have a claim against my surveyor?

Whether or not your surveyor’s error was ‘negligent’ and you have the right to make a claim will depend on what you have asked the surveyor to do. Surveyors can be instructed to produce a wide range of reports and valuations from mortgage valuations, home buyers reports to full structural surveys. Each of these reports will have different levels of responsibility, with the full structural survey requiring the highest standard.

Your contract with your surveyor will set out the surveyor’s responsibilities. Even if you don’t have a written contract, perhaps because you had a verbal agreement or because your mortgage lender instructed the surveyor directly, the surveyor may still owe you a duty of care. We can help you by explaining what your surveyor’s responsibilities were or still are.

As a minimum your surveyor must perform services with reasonable care and skill. The standard that is required is that of an ordinary skilled person of the same profession. If your surveyor fell below this standard and in doing so caused you to suffer loss, we can discuss with you whether you might have a claim in negligence.

Common examples of surveyor’s negligence can include situations where a surveyor:

  • Recommended an unsuitable type of survey for your needs;
  • Missed defects in a property or failed to report on structural defects;
  • Failed to adequately inspect the property;
  • Failed to report on issues such as subsidence, dry rot, woodworm or damp;
  • Produced a valuation that is much too low or too high, whether it was for a purchase, lease extension or rent review;
  • Failed to take certain factors into consideration when producing a valuation report;
  • Failed to conduct an adequately thorough investigation; or
  • Prepared an inaccurate report

What is my claim worth?

Your surveyor’s negligent actions may have caused you a loss. For example, your surveyor may have reported that your flat was made out of a certain material when it was not, meaning that you may not be able to get a mortgage. We can help you recover financial compensation (damages) that will put you in the position you would have been in if your surveyor had not been negligent. Often the financial compensation can be substantial. We will discuss with you what your claim is likely to be worth. Your losses would normally be covered by your surveyor’s professional indemnity insurance policy.

What is the procedure?

If we think that you have a claim against your surveyor, the first step is to write to the surveyor, setting out the legal basis for your claim and a summary of your loss. Claims in negligence against surveyors can be complex and we may need to get a professional expert opinion of your surveyor’s failings in order to set out your claim. The surveyor will either accept your claim or send a ‘letter of response’, indicating whether he intends to defend the claim and on what basis. We find that most claims settle before a claim is issued at Court and most cases do not reach Court. If a negotiated resolution is not possible, we can discuss issuing a claim with you.

How much will it cost?

We are experienced at effectively managing the costs of pursuing or defending a professional negligence claim and we are able to act on a variety of different funding arrangements in order to help you pursue or defend your claim in the most effective and efficient way. At the outset, we will discuss with you the available funding options to ensure you are provided with the most suitable arrangement for your circumstances.

What should I do next?

Bolt Burdon has a specialist team dedicated to professional negligence. We regularly take instructions from clients with concerns about their professional advisers. You may not even fully know at this stage whether your surveyor has been negligent and we can help you determine this, discuss what options are available for you and what steps you should take next.

Our Professional Negligence Team

Natasha McKeever
I am a Partner and head of the Disputed Wills and Trusts Team. Read More
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