In this blog post, I will be discussing what a Third Party Wall Surveyor is and what their role is within the Party Wall process.
A Third Surveyor within the meaning of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is used whenever there is a Party Wall job and there are two Surveyors involved acting independently for their own party. The Third Surveyor is then selected and agreed almost immediately after the two Surveyors are appointed by their building owners.
A Third Surveyor should be knowledgeable and often has a lot of experience with party wall matters.
Typically, the Building Owner’s Surveyor (the surveyor acting on behalf of the client carrying out works) uses a list of three or more Third Surveyor selections which they then send to the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor (the Surveyor acting on behalf of the client adjoining the works) who then chooses one of the selections to act as the Third Surveyor.
If the two Surveyors are unable to agree one of the selections, then each Surveyor may suggest surveyors act as Third Surveyors until they can come to an agreement.
If they are still unable to agree on a Surveyor between them, then this may be referred onto the Local Authority to decide 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).
It is important that a Third Surveyor is selected before proceeding with the party wall process as they are chosen to act as an independent Surveyor with good knowledge and experience of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 to settle disputes that may arise between both the Surveyors and the owners.
With the majority of Party Wall jobs, the Third Surveyor is unaware that they have been selected which may seem odd as they are named within a legal document. There are often many Party Wall Awards that have been served and agreed which have a Third Surveyor named within the document but have had no involvement in the job whatsoever.
Third Surveyors are selected as a precaution as opposed to being appointed like the Building Owner’s Surveyor and Appointing Owner’s Surveyor.
Generally speaking, when engaged in the Party Wall procedure both appointed Surveyors should aim to have the process completed without the involvement of a Third Surveyor, however, it may be the only option to resolve a difference in opinion between the two appointed Surveyors.
The best and simple way to look at this is that both the Building Owner’s Surveyor and Adjoining Owner Surveyor’s is appointed to resolve disputes between the owners and the Third Surveyor is selected by the two Surveyors to resolve a disputed matter between the two Surveyors. Anyone who is a party to the dispute can refer a matter to the Third Surveyor including the owners.
A Third Surveyor is commonly selected to resolve disputes but can also take the position of one of the Building Owner’s Surveyor or Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor if either of them doesn’t deal with the matter within the statutory time frame set out in the Party Wall etc Act 1996. Similarly, the Third Surveyor can also take one of their positions if they refuse to act in accordance with the Act.
By referring the dispute onto a Third Surveyor, the appointed Surveyors are putting their owners at risk of the Surveyor’s referral fees and the Third Surveyor’s fee in resolving the dispute.
If you have a difficult party wall question or issue and want to get some experienced impartial advice from our Party Wall Surveying team call us now on 020 79352502 and we will be happy to assist.