Party wall appeals

If either of the owners are not happy with an award they have the right to ask the County Court to review and, if appropriate, amend it in a party wall appeal.

The time limit for the application to the Court is very short at just 14 days from the date the award is served, and so it is important that a person considering appealing an award takes legal advice as soon as possible.

Starting a party wall appeal

The time limit for issuing a party wall appeal is 14 days from the date on which the award was deemed served.

However, if the award is challenged on the basis that it is entirely invalid (for example, if the surveyors were not correctly appointed) then the 14 day time limit does not apply.

A party wall appeal is started by filing an Appellant’s Notice in a County Court, together with a summary of your grounds of appeal. Although it is not mandatory, it is preferable to issue a party wall appeal in a county court with a specialist construction list, such as Birmingham, Liverpool or Central London.

What is the procedure for a party wall appeal?

Once an appeal is issued the appellants notice and grounds of appeal will be referred to a judge who will issue a timetable for the preparation of the case. This will include the exchange of relevant documents (called “disclosure”) as well as the preparation of witness statements and any experts reports required. The court may also list a procedural hearing to discuss any more complicated procedural issues.

The Court will then list a final hearing at which it will decide the appeal. At that hearing the Court may dismiss the appeal, or cancel the award, or amend it, and make any other order it thinks just.

By way of example some of the grounds under which a party wall award can be challenged are:-

  • The surveyor(s) made an error of law;
  • The surveyor(s) made a manifest error in their award;
  • The award is the result of fraud, collusions or partiality by the surveyor(s);
  • There was an unfairness in the award, or in the procedure that led to the award.

This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be other grounds under which a party wall appeal may be made.

How long does a party wall appeal take?

This will depend on how busy the Court is, the issues in dispute, as well as a number of other factors. Generally speaking the process should take between 6 and 9 months.

Do I need a solicitor?

Strictly speaking, no you don’t.

That said, studies have shown that you are statistically at least twice as likely to win if you are represented by a specialist lawyer than if you are not. Moreover, litigation does not have to cost a fortune.

In certain circumstances I undertake cases on fixed fees or other success-based funding arrangements.

How much does a party wall appeal cost?

This will depend on what is involved. More complicated cases involve more work and are therefore more expensive, but simpler cases with fewer issues in dispute can be less expensive. In certain circumstances I undertake cases on fixed fees or other success-based funding arrangements.

Although recovery of legal costs is always within the discretion of the Court if you are successful the Court will usually also make an order that you may recover your costs from your opponent. You may, however, not be able to recover the full amount.