The second decade of this century has been marked by a rise in the number of surveyor professional negligence claims made.
Potential grounds for a claim
There are many professional grounds for making a surveyor professional negligence claim, although all are contingent on proving that the surveyor owed the client some form of duty of care. Typical reasons for a claim include failure to:
- Notice a defect
- Produce an accurate report
- Carry out an inspection with adequate care
- Make suitable enquiries
- Observe or notify of a serious problem such as woodworm or dry rot
Above all when seeking to prove negligence the question of whether a reasonably competent professional would have acted in a similar manner will be critical to reaching a decision. This is something that will be determined by an independent expert witness.
The question of financial loss
It is worth noting that even if negligence is proven, there is little point in proceeding with a professional negligence claim unless a case can also be made for significant financial loss.
If the loss sustained equates to only a few hundred pounds it is likely that there will be little cost/benefit to litigation. For a claim to be worth the investment of time and energy, it is necessary to prove both that there has been significant financial loss and that this has been sustained as a direct result of the act of negligence.
It is also worth noting that a claim can be successful based purely on an inaccurate valuation – it does not need to be proven that the surveyor was negligent in its methods of making a valuation, only that the valuation was sufficiently inaccurate: "Any valuation that falls outside the permissible margin of error brings into question the competence of the valuer and the sort of care he gave to the task of valuation." (K/S Lincoln and others v CB Richard Ellis Hotels Limited  EWHC 1156 (TCC)
The above case also gave rise to general rules regarding acceptable margins of error, these are sometimes called the Coulson Margins, after the judge who gave the ruling the case. They are as follows:
- Plus or minus fifteen percent for a property with "exceptional features"
- Plus or minus ten percent for a "one-off" property
- Plus or minus five percent for a "standard residential property"
Seth Lovis & Co. Central London professional negligence lawyers
Contact the surveyor professional negligence claims specialists at Seth Lovis & Co. today for information and advice, or to arrange a free initial consultation.