It is an unfortunate but undeniable reality; we don’t always agree. Where these disagreements are about aspects to do with your property that cannot easily be resolved, they can lead to disputes. Disputes in the property market can be expensive to resolve, both financially as well as in terms of the amount of time they take.

When the parties involved in the property dispute cannot come to an accord, these cases will often go to a tribunal or court of law for resolution. And because legal cases involve complex issues, evidence is vital in resolving them. When dealing with property disputes, getting the evidence and having it presented in professional and competent way may require the services of an Expert Witness.

As longstanding property experts in London, we have a number of Directors who have the necessary knowledge, qualifications and experience in acting as an Expert Witness to help resolve property disputes of any kind.

Over the next couple of months, we will look at how an Expert Witness can help with disputes related to various aspects of property, starting in this article with Building Surveying.

But before we dive in and discuss possible situations where chartered surveyor might be needed as an Expert Witness, it is probably important to outline exactly what an Expert Witness is.

What is an Expert Witness?

An Expert Witness is an expert in a given field or discipline, who can be called upon to present evidence in a legal setting, such as a tribunal or court of law. While the services of the Expert Witness can be sought by either of the parties involved in the legal dispute, the evidence presented will be impartial, as the duty of the Expert Witness is foremost to the court, irrespective of who engaged their services.

The primary form of evidence an Expert Witness will provide is a detailed report, which will contain both the instructions they have been given as well as their findings related to the subject matter in question. The Expert Witness may also be asked to personally present the evidence to the court or tribunal.

An Expert Witness differs from other experts that could be called upon to provide evidence in a similar setting. Experts who have not undergone the same level of education or training in report writing or development of courtroom skills are termed ‘expert advisors’.

While both may have honed their skills in their given area of expertise, Expert Witnesses differ from an expert advisor because they have invested significant time to learn how to prepare and present the evidence in line with legal guidelines, whilst drawing on their qualifications and experience. These hard-won skills add to the weight of the evidence they provide, and their reports and presented evidence have often provided legal proceedings with the vital information needed to enable a well-informed judgment.

When is a Building Surveyor needed as an Expert Witness

When building work is undertaken or repairs are made to a property, there are regrettably instances where the quality of the work does not meet the expected standard. When this happens and the two parties cannot come to an agreement, a Chartered Surveyor is often called upon to help bring evidence to the fore.

Kevin Marshall MRICS, AWH Director of Building Surveying and Property Management Services, has been an Expert Witness for over 10 years. During that time he has worked on numerous cases, covering all manner of property disputes. Drawing on his experience, here is a short list in the kind of circumstance that could lead to a chartered surveyor being required as an Expert Witness.

  1. Build quality in new property developments – Perhaps you have bought a new house or flat and discovered issues related to the quality of the work done, which the property developer disputes.
  2. Safety regulation compliance – In light of the Grenfell tower disaster and subsequent confusion around cladding for other mid-rise properties, fire safety is obviously a huge concern in relation to block properties. However it is not just blocks of flats where this could be an issue. A lack of compliance with other building regulations may also lead to property disputes that require the expertise of a chartered surveyor.
  3. Landlord and Tenant disputes – Whether it is a tenant who is not sticking to repair obligations set out in their leasehold, or a landlord who is not looking after the common parts of the freehold, disputes can arise from both sides.
  4. Quality of refurbishment or extension – This ranges from homeowners who are unhappy with the quality of a loft conversion through to property developers whose contractors have not delivered the required quality of work and everything and everything in between.

Over the years we have been contracted by homeowners, tenants in individual houses, property developers and landlords of high-rise tower blocks, and are highly familiar with the challenges faced by all parties.

Expertise you can count on

Our extensive knowledge as chartered surveyors has meant that we have been contracted to act on behalf of both defendants and claimants over the years. Our Expert Witnesses have advised on many different kinds of property dispute and have presented evidence in both courts and tribunals.

We hope you never find yourself in similar situations, but if you do, please contact us. No matter what the dispute is about, you can trust that we will give you detailed, independent advice.

Need an Expert Witness? Call 0800 071 5517 or email admin@awh.co.uk.