Property Disputes

Gone are the days when two disputing parties resolved their differences by employing the services of their vicar or, when it came to property values their local Land Agent who would provide them with an impartial considered valuation.

In fact it changed so much that by the 1990’s it was common to see disputes, particularly marital disputes of jointly owned property where each party would employ the services of a “friendly” Estate Agent to either value the property high (if they wanted to be bought out) or conversely low (if they had to do the buying) which resulted in two valuations poles apart which when presented before the judge proved to be more of a hindrance than assistance in his decision making process. These problems along with many others were placed at the door of Lord Woolf who was given the task of changing the civil law system in England & Wales.

As a result of Lord Woolf’s recommendations the government introduced new rules for County and High Courts known as the Civil Procedure Rules, which came into force on the 26th April 1999.

Part and parcel of the CPR was the introduction of the Expert Witness whose duty of care was to the Courts and not the instructing and paying party.

An Expert Witness can be employed as a “Single Expert” - instructed and paid by one party but who’s duty of care is to the Court or as a “Single Joint Expert” employed by both sides but again completely impartial with a duty of care to the Court.

The value of property can be affected by innumerable factors, which an Expert Witness (who is a recognised professional with both the theoretical qualifications and practical experience in his specific field) needs to take into account. Examples of such factors include: -

  • Planning Restrictions
  • Planning proposals in the vicinity
  • Occupancy Restrictions
  • Public and Private Rights
  • Neighbouring property use
  • Restrictive Covenants & Obligations

With the advent of the cheap factory style conveyancing the legal profession find themselves under an avalanche of lawsuits with some annual insurance premiums increasing by 100% year on year.

So how do you assess the diminution in value of your property due to the previously un-identified public footpath running past your front door or the shooting rights in favour of the neighbouring property? The Expert Witness.