When Do I Require An Expert Witness Property Surveyor
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- Expert Witness, RICS, Surveyors
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This article asks: when do I require an expert witness property surveyor? We look at what an RICS expert witness is and what an RICS expert witness surveyor does.
What is an RICS Expert Witness?
Expert evidence can be essential during dispute trials regarding properties, land or aspects of construction.
Using their expertise across numerous areas, the client or the court can appoint RICS expert witnesses to cover legal troubles with planning, development, valuation, housing retail, compulsory purchases, building surveying, commercial property, negligence and dilapidations.
They collect all the necessary evidence, information and guidance needed on the subject to help the judge and jurors conclude the tribunal. Typically, the property's history, construction, and value assist jurors in deciding who is responsible and the best possible way to resolve the issues.
When are RICS expert witnesses needed?
RICS expert witnesses are utilised across various court cases in the UK. However, they are restricted to legal disputes regarding their specific field or industry of expertise; otherwise, their specialist knowledge is irrelevant.
For example, you may be asked to stand as an expert witness for matters including defective building works, boundary disputes, valuations, party wall issues, and numerous others.
In these times, it's helpful for a court and those on trial to have professional evidence, information and advice that comes from those in the industry, whether building, housing, etc.
What does an RICS expert witness surveyor do?
Generally, RICS expert witness surveyors will visit the property site where the dispute has occurred and conduct a reliable inspection to gather as much evidence and information as possible. When it's time to put together and fill out an expert report document, it must comply with Practice Direction 35 presented to professionals within the Civil Procedure Rules.
Years ago, each side of the argument would be taken to court, and those representatives on the jury would select their own expert witness-building surveyor, of which would cater toward the side paying them. However, as times have changed, Practice Direction 35 now implores all expert witnesses involved in the court case to be impartial and disinterested.
Courts typically ask for a single joint expert witness to go between or advocate for each client for the most unbiased principles, evidence and information; the initial appointment will come directly from the court. The court can then appoint these experts on most cases that require them, such as boundary disputes in a scenario between two neighbours concerning the positioning of a mutual party wall or fence or perhaps another dispute.
Role of an Expert Witness
Contractor, Independent Surveyor or Consultant
Firstly, you want to begin thinking about your position and its level of credibility as an expert or independent witness.
For example, if you are a surveyor or owner of the business that the case involves, the Court may question your perspective for its bias.
Whilst this appears unfair, as it suggests that there are vested interests instead of positive integrity; however, it will be your duty to prepare for this kind of response and anticipate your independence, occupation and history in accordance with your experience with the client being questioned thoroughly.
Specialist knowledge to prepare written reports for the Court
Independent Surveyors or Chartered Surveyors sometimes think they can act without bias; however, numerous specialist skills are involved in offering advice throughout legal proceedings.
Several members in the field are listed as Consultants as during the course of their training and initiation after demonstrating their competence. Consultant members are professionals who can act as expert witnesses or joint witnesses. Typically they can produce CPR 35-compliant expert witness reports suitable for numerous civil procedures.
The PCA is clear on these regulations and the RICS guidance; thus, whenever professionals are asked to act as expert witnesses regarding a client in litigation, specialists are recommended with all the necessary knowledge to prepare a sufficient representative.
Consultant members often may ask themselves whether they cannot step in and act on behalf of their prospective client. However, one of the most significant arguments against doing so is whether they know both parties involved and whether their personal bias would prejudice their opinion and final judgement. Examples of such personal bias could be working for a specific manufacturing business or member around 5 or 10 years beforehand.
The consultant or expert witness and defendant have a historical relationship, and the Court must address this early on in the proceedings; that way, if biased statements are made, the jury could disregard them.
Scientifically robust arguments
Suppose you intend on taking on the role of the expert witness during a case; there are several aspects you must be prepared for before standing trial or presenting any essential information or evidence. One factor to be highly aware of is that professionals on the stand will question your ability and position as an expert at one point or another. Barristers are taught and trained to search for weaknesses in their statements or evidence and wear you down, as it is a way to uncover the truths inside your proclamation.
Over the period before your case, you want to ensure your evidence and professional background details are well-thought concerning the argument you and your client wish to make and 100% accurate.
You want to ready yourself for a lengthy and perhaps uncomfortable interrogation of your field in the eyes of the law and the judgement you have made with your knowledge.
Ensure you are confident of the diagnosis you wish to make and can successfully support it with backed-up evidence rather than your arguments being purely opinion-based and with emotional bias.
The goal is to have valuable evidence, if judges find the details presented to be lacking in quality, the clients will suffer the loss of their case, and you will be held liable for the costs. If there is suspected fraud, the court will prosecute the expert witness; there are plenty of well-publicised cases and articles you can read about online in recent years where this has occurred.
Many civil cases that are brought to professional consultants often never reach court, meaning the need for an expert witness is often less demanding, and the evidence may not need a series of checks for validity. Legal proceedings are always much more complicated than what you may see on TV courtroom dramas that overdramatise or simplify the outcomes.
We hope that this doesn't alarm you, disputes are handled in various ways, and clients get numerous opportunities to handle their boundary business in a civilised manner before cases are taken to court for a more severe hearing.
However, suppose you don't have enough advice or evidence for your side of the argument. In that case, we recommend contacting consultant or expert witness firms as they can offer unbiased advice and information on who is right in the matter and whether or not it is a matter that one party and the opposing individual should take forward.
If you require RICS chartered building surveyors in Westminster and London, get in contact today. Our professional chartered surveyors offer detailed building surveys and investigations.