Understanding Third Surveyors and Referral in Construction Disputes

HomeUnderstanding Third Surveyors and Referral in Construction Disputes

The Crucial Role of Third Surveyors:

Construction disputes can be complex and challenging to resolve, but the involvement of third surveyors can play a crucial role in ensuring fair outcomes. Section 10(10) of the relevant legislation allows for the appointment of a third surveyor to work alongside other surveyors in completing an Award. However, Section 10(11) more commonly refers disputes to a third surveyor, who acts as a referee in the resolution process. In this blog, we’ll explore the key aspects of third surveyor conduct and the referral process. Emphasizing clarity and impartiality throughout.

When Construction Dispute Arises

Before referring it to a third surveyor, it’s essential to precisely define the terms of reference. This includes clearly specifying the amount and type of security of expenses (SfE) required to avoid any misunderstandings. Additionally, establishing the basis of liability before making the referral is crucial in guiding the subsequent resolution process.

One of the critical responsibilities of a third surveyor is to remain impartial throughout the dispute resolution process. Effective communication and cooperation between the third surveyor and both surveyors involved in the case are essential. By keeping all parties informed through email communication, potential escalations of construction disputes can be avoided, thereby reducing the likelihood of appeals.

When referring a dispute to a third surveyor

It’s important to note that the cost consequences are typically borne by the losing party. Informing the appointing owner about the potential costs incurred by both surveyors and the third surveyor is crucial. As it can significantly influence the decision to pursue a referral. All referrals must be provided in writing, clearly stating the terms of reference provided to the third surveyor.

Unlike Awards issued by regular surveyors, there is no defined process for third surveyors to resolve construction disputes. Instead, they may choose to request submissions and responses from both parties, inviting proposals and procedures. Embracing modern technologies like Zoom meetings can save time and expenses during the process. Throughout the resolution process, it’s vital to keep both owners or parties involved informed of the proceedings.

Construction Disputes
Construction Disputes

Cost considerations are significant when it comes to third surveyor referrals

In some cases, the fees of the third surveyor might be higher than the potential excessive fees of the appointing owner. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully weigh the costs involved to avoid unnecessary financial burdens.

Sharing draft Awards with appointing owners can be beneficial in the resolution process. This provides an opportunity for review and feedback before finalizing the Award. An Award from a third surveyor that includes detailed reasoning is less likely to be appealed, as it demonstrates a well-considered and unbiased decision.

Once a matter is referred to a third surveyor, they gain official jurisdiction over the construction disputes. The third surveyor can confirm whether they have the authority to handle the specific matter in question, providing clarity and direction to the resolution process.


Third surveyors play a crucial role in construction dispute resolution, ensuring fairness and impartiality. By defining terms of reference, communicating effectively, and considering the costs involved, parties can navigate the referral process with greater clarity. The expertise and objective perspective of a third surveyor can lead to bespoke Awards that are less likely to be appealed, bringing closure to construction disputes and fostering positive outcomes for all parties involved.