My Surveyor Appointed a Colleague on Behalf of the Adjoining Owner

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

After entering into a dispute with a neighbor (because they did not respond within the time period) my surveyor appointed another surveyor in his own practice to act on their behalf in the party wall process. We have shown all details of a draft party award to the neighbours but if finalized (and the award is made) they are now threatening to appeal the award on the grounds that the appointed surveyor will not be independent in acting on their behalf. (They are extremely well armed with information on the functioning of the Act and have demanded that their own surveyor is appointed). 

Am interested to understand your view as to the legitimacy of the original appointment (of a surveyor from the same practice)– and whether this appointment constitutes  grounds for a successful appeal.

Answer

I’m afraid that I don’t have a definitive answer to this one. It is accepted that a building owner cannot appoint his surveyor to also act for the adjoining owner (as ‘Agreed’) but I have not come across your scenario before.  

The obligation of any appointed surveyor to act impartially should remove any suspicion but we know that is not always the case. The size of the firm and how closely the 2 appointed surveyors work together would have a bearing .  I think if it was me I would rather appoint somebody from another firm to avoid any suspicion of a conflict.  

I’d be very interested to hear the outcome of the appeal.