Making a successful negligence claim against a valuer or surveyor can be complex process and will require the advice and expertise of a suitably qualified and experienced professional negligence solicitor.
There are many aspects of any negligence claim against a valuer or surveyor to consider, 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 house, flat or property?
- Did the valuation take into account factors that would be noticed by a competent professional?
The case for damages
However, even in the event that one, or indeed all, of the above are proven, a successful negligence claim is 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, h 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.
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