Is an ‘Agreed Surveyor’ impartial?
An “Agreed Surveyor” refers to a party wall surveyor who is appointed under statute by both the building owner (the party undertaking the works) and the adjoining owner (the neighbouring property owner) to act impartially and independently in resolving party wall dispute that has arisen following the service of a valid notice (which fulfils the legal obligation of the building owner. The appointment of an Agreed Surveyor is an alternative to each party appointing their own respective surveyors.
The impartiality of an Agreed Surveyor is imperative to ensure fair decision-making during the resolution of party wall dispute(s). An Agreed Surveyor should not favour one party over the other and should make decisions based on the provisions outlined in the relevant party wall legislation and the facts and evidence presented. The agreed surveyor, or indeed the two surveyors, do not have a client / professional relationship once a notice has been dissented to (and the consequent dispute has arisen), this is why the parties are referred to as appointing owners, so this removes any interests between surveyor and property owner. The party wall surveyor is now working under statute to interpret the Act, to the letter of the Act and this in itself ensures impartiality (providing this is executed in the aforementioned manner).
However, it’s mindful to consider that the impartiality of an Agreed Surveyor can be subjective and may vary based on the parties involved, and can, equally, be perceived inaccurately by the said parties. While they should strive to act impartially.
To help ensure the impartiality of an Agreed Surveyor, it is advisable to select someone with relevant expertise and professional qualifications, such as a qualified and experienced party wall surveyors. It is also important for both parties to openly communicate any concerns with a surveyors appointment or potential conflicts of interest with the Agreed Surveyor to address them transparently.
If there are doubts about the impartiality or conduct of an Agreed Surveyor, it may be necessary to seek legal advice, report / discuss it with their governing body / institute (RICS, FPWS) or consult a different surveyor (if the surveyor has yet to be appointed) to safeguard your interests and ensure a fair resolution of the party wall dispute.