When might you be able to sue a surveyor?

Surveyors are professionals engaged in the inspection and study of property and land. Generally when you are buying or selling property, building or renovating on property, or have a property dispute, you will engage a solicitor to carry out an inspection and prepare a report.

If you have used a surveyor and are not happy with the results, call us and we will discuss whether you might have a case for professional negligence.

Using a surveyor

Depending on the type of service they are contracted for, surveyors will provide a detailed report at the conclusion of their inspection listing their findings, specifications and any real or potential problems. Surveyors will generally indicate things such as:

  • Boundaries
  • Sewerage and plumbing
  • Built structures
  • Easements

The use of a surveyor is designed to bring problems to attention in order to remedy any current disputes or problems, and to avoid problems in the future. Occasionally, however, surveyors may miss things in their report, or fail to properly advise on an issue.

In such instances, you may be able to sue the surveyor. You will need to have incurred some loss or damage in order to sue the surveyor.

In order to avoid problems, you should always use a surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. There are alternatives that you may consider before pursuing legal assistance to sue a surveyor.

How to complain about or sue a surveyor

You may be able to complain to the Surveyors Ombudsman Service. The Surveyors Ombudsman Service may be able to help if you have a complaint against:

  • A chartered surveying firm
  • A surveyor
  • An estate agent

The Ombudsman can award as much as £25,000 for loss and expenses and for stress and inconvenience. However, the service cannot deal with all complaints, and in many circumstances it may be in your best interests to privately sue the surveyor. It is always a good idea to speak to a specialist solicitor to get their advice.

If you are intending to bring a civil action, then you will need a solicitor to assist you with the claim against the surveyor. Negligence claims of this type require a particular pre-action protocol to be followed and failure to properly follow the correct protocol is likely to result in damages being reduced.

Claims against quantity surveyors follow a different protocol from claims against other surveyors and this should be borne in mind well before your claim is issued. A claim against a quantity surveyor will require use of the Construction and Engineering Disputes Protocol, while a claim against a building surveyor would require the use of the Professional Negligence Pre-action Protocol.

Negligence by a surveyor can have great financial consequences if you purchase a property as a result of their report and it transpires that the report is inaccurate. In these circumstances you should be entitled to damages for the financial loss you have suffered. A specialist professional negligence solicitor can help you to file a claim for these damages.

For alternative information on claims against estate agents, see our page on suing estate agents.

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