Like the term ‘accountant’, the terms ‘surveyor’ and ‘valuer’ are unrestricted and cover a multitude of activities and specialisms. However, many of the professionals practising in these disciplines are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which means that not only are they subject to significant regulatory oversight, but they are also required to carry insurance to cover any claims made against them for professional negligence.
Common mistakes by negligent surveyors
Many of the claims made against negligent surveyors relate to the valuation of property and land, where it is often stated that such valuations are an art and not a science. While there is certainly some truth in this, valuers and surveyors must still act with reasonable skill and care and in accordance with the practices and competencies of their fellow professionals. If they do not and loss results, they can expect to be held liable to compensate their clients.
Some common mistakes that can give rise to successful claims against surveyors and valuers are:
- Failing to survey or value the correct property or site
- Failing to inspect all accessible parts of a property or site
- Failing to take account of readily available and material comparables
- Failing to warn of identifiable features affecting the usage of a property or site
- Failure to take account of restrictions over a property or site as part of a valuation
- Failing to take proper account of each constituent element of a valuation
- Failing to utilise the most appropriate method of valuation
Even where a mistake is made by a negligent surveyor or valuer instructed by someone else, if financial loss is suffered as a consequence, a claim for compensation can still be made in appropriate circumstances. This is explained in more detail in our article: Third party claims for professional negligence
How to sue a negligent surveyor or valuer
Most claims are commenced by correspondence and by following the procedures set out in the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol. While in some cases it may also be necessary to institute court proceedings, a considerable number of cases are resolved without the need to do so.
Where the negligent surveyor or valuer is employed by a company or partnership, any claim will usually be directed towards the employer. However, in certain circumstances, it may also be possible to pursue a claim against an employee personally. This is discussed in more detail in our article: Personal liability of employees: An emerging issue
Answers to many of the practical questions we frequently get asked about making a claim against a surveyor or valuer are set out in our guide: Professional negligence claims: Your key questions answered
Assessing the merits of a claim
Before embarking on any claim against a surveyor or valuer, a careful assessment will need to be undertaken of a number of important issues, including:
- The scope of the legal duties owed by the surveyor or valuer
- Any actions taken by the surveyor or valuer to comply with those duties
- The nature and extent of the loss caused by any breaches of those duties
This can be a complicated process and the merits of each claim will often depend on the background events that give rise to it.
Where a surveyor or valuer is found to be at fault financial compensation, usually in the form of ‘damages’, can be recovered for a wide range of losses. Using case examples, we identify and explain many of the different types of compensation awards available in our guide: Compensation for professional negligence: What can I recover?
Even if the firm or practice at fault is no longer trading or has been dissolved, it may still be possible to make a claim and recover compensation. The support available to claimants in these circumstances is explained in our article: Claims against closed professional firms and practices
Time limits for claims against surveyors & valuers
There are a number of important reasons for acting promptly when a mistake has been made or discovered. One of these are the time limits that apply to all professional negligence claims. These time limits, some of which are easy to miscalculate, are explained in our guide: Time limits for professional negligence claims – FAQs
Specialist legal advice
As professional negligence specialists, we act for clients nationwide to resolve claims against a wide range of professionals, including surveyors and valuers. As you can discover here, the service and advice we provide to our clients is unique in a number of important respects.
If you would like to arrange an initial consultation with us, free of charge or commitment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 195 4983 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.