Surveyors negligence and causation.
In this case of Platform Funding Ltd v Anderson & Associates Ltd  EWHC 1853 (QB) the case shows the difficulties in surveyors negligence cases of overcoming arguments on causation. The Claimant alleged that the surveyor, Anderson & Associates Limited, had overvalued a flat in a development.
The surveyor had valued the flat at £274,995, which was the purchase price. The court found that the value was £235,000.
The valuer had failed to:
- make any enquiries as to the availability of incentives within the development;
- seek out comparables from adjacent developments or from the second-hand market;
- and make enquiries into the selling conditions in the Thamesmead Development.
The court was sympathetic to the task faced by the valuer. At the time there were many hidden incentives with new build developments. The valuer faced great difficulties in deciding whether the size and the nature of the incentive was so closely linked to the stated sale price to amount to a reduction in the market value. The court also recognised the time constraints. He referred to the RICS Red Book, which envisaged that a carefully conducted valuation by an knowledgeable valuer would identify the existence and nature of any incentive.
The judge found in this case, however, that the scale and the nature of fraud in the development made it a near impossible task. He did find that the valuer didn’t conduct his valuation as a reasonable carefully valuer would have done. However, the foreseeable comparables would not have been discovered by a reasonable careful valuer. His decision was that the cause of the lender’s loss was the underlying fraud, facilitated by a dishonest conveyancing solicitor.
The case shows the difficulties claimants will have in pursuing Surveyors.
Even though the judge felt the standard of the surveyors advice was not good enough the case still fell down on causation.