Spotlight on a Surveyor's Duty of Care; Commercial Property PROPERTY BRIEFING

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD FREEMAN-WALLACE

CHARTERED surveyors who manage property on behalf of clients are expected to know the state of repair of every inch of that property, however high or difficult it may be to reach.

One Appeal Court case found a chartered surveyor negligent of his duty because he did not want to climb scaffolding. By keeping his feet on the ground, he could not see for himself the poor state of concrete cladding on the building.

Unfortunately, two pieces of the concrete fell off the property and on to a passer-by, Mr Mistry, causing him serious injury. Mr Mistry brought a case in "nuisance" against the owners of the building, Mr and Mrs Thakor.

They in turn brought in their property manager, Mr Roberts, as a defendant. The case against the owners turned on the common law principle of a building owner being responsible to the claimant for any damage caused to him. It had to be proved that Mr and Mrs Thakor could be presumed to have known about the state of the building. They stated that their property manager, whose duties included a full inspection of the Thakor's buildings at least twice a year, had failed to fulfil his responsibilities. The Court of Appeal found that the chartered surveyor, Mr Roberts, had failed in his duties on three important fronts. He had failed to identify the dangerous state of the panels, failed to have the dangerous state put right and failed to inform the Thakors of the unsafe state of the property, or the steps needed to correct it.

Mr Roberts had written to the Thakors months before the accident took place, telling them that he would not climb scaffolding, and that a building contractor should be brought in instead. …