Surveyor negligence case study
Mr & Mrs C were the owner’s of a substantial property which incorporated a 16th century barn. Prior to their purchase they sensibly commissioned a report from a chartered surveyor who said he specialised in historic and listed buildings.
In reliance on the report Mr & Mrs C purchased the property for in excess of £500,000 Negligently, and in breach of his contract with Mr & Mrs C, the surveyor failed in his report to identify that certain internal wall and ceiling panels had been fixed directly to the outer face of the wall/ceiling timbers before a single coat of plaster was applied directly to the boards without the use of any sort of bonding agent. As a result of this construction method and following Mr & Mrs C’s purchase the plaster became the subject of extensive cracking and even started to fall off.
Although the surveyor initially denied liability we sent a formal letter of claim to him. Whilst his insurers then admitted liability there was a considerable dispute as to the value of the claim and in particular which losses and expenses incurred by Mr & Mrs C were recoverable. Because it was not possible to settle the dispute on acceptable terms without taking this step proceedings had to be issued. Our having provided to the defendant’s solicitors extensive case law in support of the various heads of claim the case was finally settled for a sum, including costs, approaching six figures.
In retrospect the defendant and his insurers probably wished that they had accepted Mr C’s original offer, made before we became involved, to the effect that the claim would be dropped if the survey fee was refunded in full. As they say ‘never look a gift horse in the mouth’!.