Can you sue a surveyor for negligence?

The process of buying or selling a property is a complex endeavour that involves a multitude of factors, from legal considerations to financial negotiations.

At the heart of this intricate process lies property surveying, a crucial step that provides essential information about the land’s boundaries, condition, and potential issues. Property surveys serve as a cornerstone in making informed decisions, influencing property values, zoning, and construction plans.

However, what happens when the surveyor’s work falls short of the expected standards, potentially leading to costly consequences for property buyers or sellers?

In the world of real estate, negligence can have far-reaching implications, and property surveyors are not exempt from the legal obligations that come with their profession.

When a surveyor’s negligence results in errors, omissions, or inaccuracies on a property survey, it can lead to disputes, financial losses, and even legal battles between parties involved. The question arises: Can you sue a surveyor for negligence?

Navigating the realm of property survey negligence requires a comprehensive understanding of legal principles, professional responsibilities, and the available avenues for seeking justice.

What is professional negligence?


Professional negligence, often referred to as professional malpractice or professional misconduct, occurs when a professional person, such as a surveyor, fails to perform their duties to the expected standard of care, skill, and diligence, thereby causing harm or financial loss to a client or third party.

In the context of property surveyors, professional negligence refers to situations where a surveyor’s actions or omissions fall short of the standards expected within their profession, resulting in damage, financial loss, or other adverse consequences.

So, can you sue a surveyor for negligence? 

Grounds for making a professional negligence claim against a surveyor


If you believe a surveyor has been negligent, you may wish to take legal action. To establish a claim for negligence against a property surveyor, several key elements must be present:

  • Duty of Care: The first element is establishing that the surveyor owed a duty of care to the party making the claim. This duty of care is a legal obligation that professionals have to provide their services with the level of skill and care that is expected within their profession. Surveyors have a duty of care to their clients and must provide their services to an expected level of care and skill.
  • Breach of Duty: The claimant must demonstrate that the surveyor breached their duty of care by failing to meet the standard of care that a reasonably competent surveyor in the same field would have provided. This breach can occur through errors, omissions, negligence, or other substandard conduct.
  • Causation: The claimant must establish a causal link between the surveyor’s breach of duty and the harm or financial loss suffered. In other words, it must be shown that the breach of duty directly led to the negative outcome.
  • Loss or Damage: There must be measurable loss, damage, or harm suffered as a result of the surveyor’s negligence. This could include financial losses, reduced property value, additional costs, or other adverse effects.
  • Foreseeability: The harm or loss suffered must have been reasonably foreseeable by the surveyor at the time of the breach of duty. The surveyor should have been able to anticipate the potential consequences of their actions or omissions.
  • Time Limit: Claims for professional negligence must generally be brought within a certain time frame, known as the limitation period. In the UK, this period is typically six years from the date of the negligent act or omission, or three years from the date the claimant became aware (or should have become aware) of the negligence, whichever is later.

It’s important to note that pursuing a professional negligence claim can be complex and requires careful consideration of the specific circumstances. Can you sue a surveyor for negligence? Legal advice from a qualified solicitor experienced in professional negligence cases is essential to determine the viability of a claim and navigate the legal process effectively.

In the realm of property surveying, establishing professional negligence involves proving that the surveyor’s actions deviated from the expected standards of their profession, resulting in significant harm or financial loss to the parties involved. As property transactions are often substantial investments, the implications of professional negligence within this field can be substantial, underscoring the need for accountability and just recourse when errors occur.


Can you sue a surveyor for negligence? Examples of negligence

Surveyor negligence claims can be brought for a number of reasons, some of which may include the following:

  • Failure to Identify Structural Issues: A property or building surveyor is hired to conduct a structural survey on a house. However, they fail to identify significant structural issues such as foundation problems or a compromised roof. As a result, the buyer purchases the property without being aware of these issues, leading to substantial repair costs after moving in.
  • Incorrect Boundary Assessment: A surveyor is tasked with determining the boundary lines of a property. Due to an error in measurements or misinterpretation of land documents, the surveyor marks the boundary lines incorrectly. This mistake results in a dispute between neighbouring property owners over land ownership and usage rights.
  • Inaccurate Valuation Reports: A property valuer is engaged to assess the market value of a commercial property for a loan application. The valuer significantly underestimates the property’s value, leading the lender to approve a loan amount that is far below the property’s true worth. The property owner later faces financial difficulties due to the inadequate loan amount.
  • Undisclosed Environmental Issues: During an environmental survey of a piece of land, a surveyor fails to identify or report the presence of hazardous materials, such as asbestos or contaminated soil. The property buyer discovers these issues after purchasing the land and is faced with substantial clean up and remediation costs.
  • Negligent Lease Assessment: A surveyor is hired to assess the terms of a commercial lease agreement for a tenant. The surveyor fails to identify unfavourable clauses, such as onerous repair and maintenance obligations, leading the tenant to enter into a lease that places undue financial burdens on them.
  • Misleading Easement Information: A property owner hires a surveyor to provide information about easements or rights of way on their land. The surveyor provides inaccurate or incomplete information, resulting in the property owner facing legal disputes with neighbours or local authorities over access rights.
  • Failure to Identify Planning Restrictions: A property surveyor fails to identify existing planning restrictions or future development plans that affect the value and potential use of a property. The buyer later discovers that they are unable to carry out their intended development plans due to the undisclosed restrictions.


How Expert Commercial Law can assist


If you are still wondering “can you sue a surveyor for negligence?,” contact us today. Expert Commercial Law have a panel of professional negligence solicitors who can help you bring a claim for surveyor negligence.

Our panel firms have many years of experience in dealing with surveyor negligence cases.

The cost of making a professional negligence claim can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case.

  1. No win, no fee: Some solicitors may offer a “no win, no fee” arrangement, also known as a conditional fee agreement (CFA). This means that you will not have to pay the solicitor’s fees if your claim is unsuccessful.
  2. Legal expenses insurance: If you have legal expenses insurance, this may cover the cost of your claim.
  3. Hourly rates: If you do not have a no win, no fee arrangement or legal expenses insurance, you will need to pay the solicitor’s fees on an hourly basis. Hourly rates can vary greatly, depending on the solicitor’s experience and expertise.
  4. Disbursements: You will also need to cover the cost of any disbursements, such as court fees, expert reports, and other expenses incurred in the course of the claim. This may be covered if your case is bases on a conditional fee agreement.

In general, the cost of making a professional negligence claim can be substantial and it is advisable to obtain a detailed estimate of the likely costs before proceeding.

We are not a firm of solicitors; however, we have a panel of commercial law solicitors who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm.

Our solicitors can also help with a number of other commercial claims, such as partnership disputesbreach of contract and CCJ removal

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Please note, we are not a firm of solicitors; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm. 


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