Scales of Justice

This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.

In this blog Icon Surveyors will be considering why a Party Wall Notice is important and what purpose it is meant to serve by looking into the reasoning as to how the Act came into being.

The architects of the, Party Wall etc Act 1996, were of the opinion that the courts were being plagued with too many Party Wall disputes. It’s predecessors the London Building Act 1930 and the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 did not go far enough to cover the neighbourly disputes that were both time consuming and generally very costly. One such dispute concerned a “client in Sussex in a case that received recent media attention. She would have been saved 10 years’ anxiety, and there would have been a saving of tens of thousands of pounds in costs but for the fact that there is a legislative void. There are other cases which I can supply to any noble Lord who is interested which illustrate the problems that arise. They represent but the tip of an iceburg.” (The Earl of Lytton HL Deb 31 January 1996 vol 586 cc 1536)

For the above stated reasons, the legislators brought the, Party Wall etc. Act, into force in 1996.Their intention was to close the gaps within the building laws that had caused so many prevarications between both building and adjoining owners. As per the objectives in seeking to legislate this Private Members Bill, during its second reading to the House of Lords, The Earl of Lytton’s, a Chartered Surveyor by profession, states;

“The aims of the Bill are to extend the tried and tested provisions of the London Building Acts to England and Wales. It rests upon the principle of voluntary agreement between parties wherever possible; it provides for notice to be given where works are proposed; there is an opportunity to respond and comment; it sets out to protect existing structures; there is clear liability for damage and making good; there is provision for resolution of disputes other than by going to law; it sets out how costs of works and fees arising from them shall be dealt with; and clarifies the extent of rights over common structures, including floors- that is, floors between different units of occupation. So the Bill is a safety net and not a fiery hoop.
There have been inevitable changes to adapt local legislation to national purposes. There has been a need to rectify an awkward legal precedent to do with party walls used by only one owner, and it sets out to remedy an anomaly relating to differential treatment of floor structures. Finally there are improved failsafe mechanisms within the Bill. Otherwise it is very much as the 1930 and 1939 Acts are at present.”

The Earl of Lytton HL Deb 31 January 1996 vol 586 cc 1537

In answer to the question, the purpose of a Party Wall Notice is twofold. The first is to amicably inform all and/or any adjoining owners of any proposed works that may cause interference with any of their legal rights or legal interest’s. The second is to invoke the rights pertaining to the respective parties under the Act.

Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.

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Icon Surveyors

We are a team of party wall surveying experts based throughout London and the surrounding areas. Here, we share informative property survey blogs created by industry experts.



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