Gray v Elite Town Management – Party Wall Surveyors Designers? Independent?

In the case of Gray v Elite Town Management (July 2015) and later at appeal (November 2016), the courts had to consider, whether the provision in the Party Wall etc Act 1996 that the party carrying out the work must not cause unnecessary inconvenience to the Adjoining Owner, created an obligation on the appointed party wall surveyors to consider all possible designs that might achieve the Building Owner’s objective. The Courts decided that this provision only related to the manner in which the works were carried out and not the actual scheme. The scheme did not have to be the one which caused the minimum of inconvenience and so there was no obligation on the the party wall surveyors to ‘authorise’ a scheme which caused the minimum inconvenience.

This same case also dealt with the degree of professionalism to be expected of an appointed party wall surveyor. In this instance the court considered that the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor had been a ‘mere cypher’ for the Adjoining Owner and as such had not exercised her own professional skill and sufficient independence. In consequence the Court found that she was not a “surveyor” for the purposes of the Act

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