In a recent court case, the court held that a surveyor owed the home buyer “no personal duty of care.” The decision appeared to contradict another similar case referred to at the hearing where it was found that a surveyor did have a “personal responsibility” to the buyers of a house in the provision of a survey as the valuation report was signed by the surveyor, personally.
The difference in court rulings may cause concern among property owners over signing a contract with a surveying company despite the contract actually being signed by an individual surveyor. The common assumption is it is only the company who owes a duty of care, and not the individual surveyor.
In the more recent case, the company had become insolvent at the time when proceedings were served and there was no longer any professional indemnity insurance in place. Consequently, it was decided the claimant would pursue the surveyor in question.
It was found that the contract had been taken out with a limited company and not a sole trader. According to the law, while the claimant has rights for taking civil action against the company there was no justification for pursuing the defendant, personally.
In the court hearing, it was argued that a previous, similar case found on appeal, that a surveyor had owed a duty of care to applicants who relied upon the valuation and report, which was separate from that owed by the employer.
In the present case, the court found that the claimant had failed to show there had been a “special relationship” between claimant and the individual surveyor. No evidence of dealings between the two parties was produced, which would indicate that the surveyor had assumed personal responsibility for the report.
In addition, the claimant had paid a fee to the company and also understood that the report would specifically be produced on behalf of the company and not an individual surveyor.