In this surveying blog post, I will be discussing the role that a Third Surveyor plays in Party Wall Surveying process and I will be established when they are required.
For every Party Wall Dispute that has two separate Surveyors appointed on behalf of both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner, a third Surveyor will also be in place.
As per the wording of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 S10(1)(b):,
Each party shall appoint a surveyor and the two surveyors so appointed shall forthwith select a third surveyor (all of whom are in this section referred to as “the three surveyors”)
The Third Surveyor’s duties are to make determinations and resolve any dispute deferred to them by either of the two Surveyors or either of the respective owners.
How is a Third Surveyor Selected?
A Third Surveyor is initially selected by the Building Owner’s Surveyor and the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor.
The normal process of selection is for both Surveyors to circulate names of and discuss potential Third Surveyors before deciding and agreeing upon one. As per the case of Reeves v Young and Antino, once selected and then later appointed, the Third Surveyor will remain in place throughout the process of the Party Wall Surveying dispute.
In most cases, Third Surveyors tend to be selected as a result of their experience and qualification throughout the Party Wall industry.
Officially, until appointed the Third Surveyor will most likely be unfamiliar with the Party Wall Surveying matter in dispute and may not even know they have been selected by the two respective Surveyors. However, once notified, the Third Surveyor has the right decline the appointment, or may simply not respond to the referral.
In the event that this happens the two Surveyors can either agree on the selection of another Third Surveyor or alternatively If they are still incapable to agree on a Surveyor between them, then this may be referred onto the Local Authority to make a decision as per Section 10(8) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996:
If either surveyor appointed under subsection (1)(b) by a party to the dispute refuses to select a third surveyor under subsection (1) or (9) or neglects to do so for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which the other surveyor serves a request on him (a) the appointing officer; or (b) in cases where the relevant appointing officer or his employer is a party to the dispute, the Secretary of State, may on the application of either surveyor select a third surveyor who shall have the same power and authority as if he had been selected under subsection (1) or subsection (9).
Moreover, as stated above, the Third Surveyor’s role is commonly to resolve a dispute between the two Surveyors. On the other hand, it can also be to take the place of one of the surveyors (the Building Owner’s Surveyor or the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor) in the event that one of the Surveyors doesn’t deal with the matter in accordance with the statutory timeframes of the Act, thereby failing to Act. Alternatively, the Third Surveyor can also take place of one of the Surveyors if one them refuses to act, again in accordance with the definitions of a refusal under the Act.
In all conventional Party Wall Disputes, the objective of the two appointed Surveyors would be to come to agreement and resolution of the dispute without requiring the third Surveyor’s input and referral. However, as with any professional matter, there are times where this isn’t possible. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 has therefore designed the Third Surveyor procedure into it to avoid a stalemate situation.
It is worth noting that any Third Surveyor referral procedure, increases the risk of additional fees for either of their owners, it is worth always bearing that in mind before progressing down the Third Surveyor route.
Who pays for the Third Surveyor’s fees?
It is vital to mention that the Third Surveyor will decide who their fees are payable by at the end of the referral process. Thus, meaning that the Third Surveyor Referral process puts both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner at monetary risk. Due to this, the appointed Surveyors will every so often try to prevent a Third Surveyor Referral at all costs.
If you have any more questions regarding Third Surveyor Referrals of any part of the Party Wall process, please give us a call at 020 7935 2502 for 30 minutes of free, impartial advice.