Buying a property or investing in a business premises is a major commitment and often requires the services of professionals to help you ensure you are making the wisest investment possible. If that advice falls short of a reasonable level of competence and you suffer financial loss as a result you may be able to make a claim for damages. At Healys, we offer free initial advice regarding your claim and if you do wish to proceed we offer a “No Win No Fee” service in the form of a Conditional Fee Agreement.
Making a successful negligence claim against a valuer or surveyor can a be complex process and will require the advice of a suitably qualified and experienced professional negligence solicitor.
There are a number of aspects which will be necessary to prove in any negligence claim against a valuer or surveyor, but, assuming the professional giving the valuation owed the client a duty of care, most cases will be decided on one or more of the following factors:
- Did the valuation reasonably take into account changing market conditions?
- Did it note apparent defects in the property?
- Did the valuation take into account factors that would be noticed by a competent professional?
The case for damages
In the event that one, or indeed all, of the above are proven, the chances of success in a negligence claim are good, but by no means guaranteed.
This is because it is still incumbent on the claimant to prove that the valuation caused financial loss as a result of the faulty valuation or survey. Without this loss, there is no obligation for the defendant to pay compensation.
Negligence, methodology and the margin of error
In the case of K/S Lincoln and others v CB Richard Ellis Hotels Limited  EWHC 1156 (TCC), Mr Justice Coulson ruled that the methodology used by a valuer or surveyor could have no bearing on the future of any negligence ruling. Instead, he determined, what matters is whether the final valuation falls within the accepted margin of error.
This ruling clarified that of an earlier case, Singer & Friedlander v. John D Wood & Co  2 EGLR 84, in which the judge stated:
“The valuation of land by trained, competent and careful professional men is a task which rarely, if ever, admits of precise conclusion. Often beyond certain well-founded facts so many imponderables confront the valuer that he is obliged to proceed on the basis of assumptions. Therefore he cannot be faulted for achieving a result which does not admit of some degree of error. Thus, two able and experienced men, each confronted with the same task, might come to different conclusions without anyone being justified in saying that either of them has lacked competence and reasonable care, still less integrity, in doing his work.
“Any valuation that falls outside the permissible margin of error brings into question the competence of the valuer and the sort of care he gave to the task of valuation.”
Acceptable margins of error
According to the Coulson ruling, in all but the most exceptional of cases, the following thresholds of margin of error apply:
- For a standard residential property as low as plus or minus 5%
- For a “one-off” property, plus or minus 10%
- For a property with “exceptional features”, plus or minus 15%, or, potentially, even higher in an appropriate case
Professional negligence solicitors in Brighton and London
Has a surveyor or valuer provided you with a valuation that falls below the accepted standards of competency for a professional? If so, and you have suffered significant financial loss as a result, you may be entitled to receive compensation.
For help and advice with a negligence claim against a valuer or a surveyor contact us in London or Brighton by using our call-back form, email partner Robert Johnson or call directly on 020 7822 4106.
Whether it’s a dream home or a piece of art, a yacht or a buy-to-let property, if the negligence of a valuer or surveyor has caused you to suffer financial loss, Healys can be here to help you. Below is a selection of articles in which we explain aspects of making a claim.