What A Swell Party? Party Walls In Practice

A recent case has highlighted the strict limitations that apply to party wall dispute procedures. To go back to basics: if you are intending to carry out works (as the 'building owner') which may affect a wall, structure, fence or foundations shared with a neighbour (the 'adjoining owner'), you need to instruct a surveyor to advise whether the works are 'Party Wall Works' within the meaning of the Party Wall Act 1996. If they are, it is critical to serve party wall notices on the adjoining owner before carrying out the proposed works. Our experience shows that by taking this step, you can sidestep expensive, stressful and sometimes complex litigation further down the line. If the adjoining owner consents to the works, this must be recorded in writing. However, this is unusual. It is standard practice for the adjoining owner not to consent and a deemed or actual dispute will then arise under the Act. Alternatively, he can serve a counter-notice requiring modifications to the proposed works. The Act contains a cost-effective procedure for resolving party wall disputes by surveyors. Providing the Act is properly invoked by the service of the notice, the parties' surveyors can resolve any disputes relating to party wall works and record agreement in a 'Party Wall Award'. An Award can prescribe the manner in which works can be done, and / or order the payment of damages.

Resolution of disputes

Surveyors do not have jurisdiction to resolve disputes where the initial party wall notice:

was only served after the works commenced; or did not specify the works which are being disputed. The party wall notice therefore has to describe the extent of the works accurately and fully for the statutory dispute procedure to apply. In these circumstances any claim for damages caused by the works would need to...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT