lee kyson’s understanding of sections 10(6) + (7)
THIS IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS. It needs checking for typos and grammar…I decided to write this article as I have been informed by P&T that my membership will not be offered to me for renewal when the current period expires, part of the reason given was:-
Serving an ex parte award without giving notice under clauses 10(6) or 10(7) and not informing the other surveyor of your actions.
Rather than just jump straight to Pinner v Everett  1 WLR 126 myself, I believe a good starting point on the subject matter would be to iterate Mr Justice Ramsey at para 43 in his decision in Kaye v Lawrence  EWHC 2678 (TCC) whereby he makes reference to Lord Reid in Pinner . It is very unlikely that any practicing party wall surveyor will not have heard of Kay v Lawrence and as the case dealt with a party wall matter, Ramsey J provides a more credible link to Pinner than I; especially given the way sections 10 (6) + (7) have been interpreted by P&T.
I believe that this particular part of Ramsey J’s decision is very relevant to section 10 (7) of the Act as there are varying interpretations as to exactly what is required of a party wall surveyor to comply with this section. P&T’s stance, imparted to me by some of their committee members, is that a 10-day notice is required in addition to the request. This appears to be the understanding of several surveyors after I had served an ex parte Award and was even stated as being a requirement by a third surveyor in a recent referral to him by one of the aggrieved surveyors. The extremely high profile third surveyor made reference to Frances Holland School v Wassef a non-binding decision from the county court in which inter alia a surveyor proceeded to act ex parte on the wrong section of the Act. His [third surveyor] view was that Frances Holland School gave rise to an implied condition in the current Act to also serve a 10 day notice. I disagreed. It was the wording of that particular section of the predecessor Act that required a 10 day request in writing. I have referred to this further below.
In dealing with a complaint put to them by a surveyor who had been ousted by my ex parte Award, the argument recently put before me by two P&T committee members was that I refused to acknowledge that, despite a request being made, there is a requirement to also serve a 10-day notice. I refused to acknowledge their view and replied that I proceed with each case on its merits and if the same, or a similar, situation arose again I would proceed ex parte if that was the action called for but only after consultation with my appointing owner. Their argument about the requirement to serve a 10 day notice was also, in their opinion, applicable to 10(6).
First of all let us have a look at the wording of 10(6):
The first section is self-explanatory and hinges on ‘If’.
If we jump to ‘refuses to act effectively’ once again, contrary to the view put to me by surveyors is that there is an inherent belief that they have to state ‘I refuse to act effectively’ in my opinion this would be more a kin to that surveyor declaring him / herself incapable to act as per section 10(5). It is their resulting actions that would determine the matter more so than their statement, this view is supported by HH Judge Hazel Marshall QC in Manu v Euroview Estates Ltd -  1 EGLR 165
The very fact that the word ‘act’ is used requires that an action is to be performed and ‘action’ is the operative interpretation whereby a ‘statement’ is not, albeit such a statement may not be easily ignored. Therefore, a surveyor is deemed by his actions, or lack of them, to be refusing to act effectively. I am not referring to differences of opinion on matters that are purely a difference of opinion between the surveyors but more aligned to known facts for example what if a surveyor just sits on a draft Award without giving any response, having been sent a draft award in pdf format then asks for it in word format so he can comment or amend it but then does nothing despite further requests from the BOS? A total lack of response in my opinion fulfills the requirement of both sections 10(6) + (7) a further example whereby the AOS despite being made aware of the erroneous nature of the amendments kept insisting on for example noisy working hours being permitted outside those as given in local bye-laws; taking care of hedges and fences - when there are none; etc. etc. there were quite a few in this particular instance.
If we refer back Mr Justice Ramsey I believe he is telling us as party wall surveyors, organisations, learned societies or whatever that quite simply, we read it as it is and do not substitute words or imply interpretations that are simply not there.
The Green Book 3rd Ed. as published by P&T does not make reference to a notice being a requirement of section 10(6) it states on page 75 ‘If an appointed surveyor refuses to act effectively, the other surveyor appointed by the other party may immediately proceed to act ex parte’. However does go on to say ‘a surveyor proceeding ex parte should be clear on : refusal to act is a positive statement and/or intent’. Personally, I do not feel this statement goes deep enough into this subsection. Once again, if we look at the wording of 10(6) ‘refuses’ is the current state of affair, intent is not. I would find it very difficult to proceed ex parte against a surveyor whom in my opinion intended to refuse to act effectively, the wording is somewhat misleading as the refusal has to be current and not progressing.
First of all, as with section 10(6), let us have a look at the wording of 10(7):
Much of the wording is very similar to section 10(6) and once again we should bear in mind part of Mr Justice Ramsey’s decision in Kay v Lawrence, as I have come across several interpretations of the procedures to be followed prior to embarking on the path of 10(7).
So I will start at ‘neglects to act effectively’ as with 10(6) a difference of opinion is not a basis to proceed ex parte and to accuse someone of not acting effectively. In my opinion, ‘neglects to act effectively’ must be a current state of affairs viz it must be live and continuing. This has been unequivocally confirmed in Patel v Peters  EWCA Civ 335 - 1 W.L.R. 179. In Patel v Peters Mr Justin Burns resumed acting effectively despite 10 days having passed since a request was made of him, or more to the point a notice was served on him explaining that the 10 day deadline would be extended due to the holiday period. Therefore, the opportunity to execute the 10(7) procedure had been spent, this supports the argument that it must be live when proceeding with the 10(7) process culminating with an Award.
To trigger the process in the current Act a request must be served on the surveyor, however , ‘in writing’ is not stated which is in contrast to the predecessor 'London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939’ and does require the request to be in writing as per Part IV of the LBA1939.
Section 55(e) of the LBA1939 is not too dissimilar to the PWeA1996 however it must be asked why the the requirement for the request to be in writing has been dropped. If it was still the intention for the request to be in writing the current Act would say so, as it does in sections 3(3), 7(4), 10(2), 11(10 and 13(1). I believe it would be fair to say that as long as a request is served, irrespective of the format then the initial stage of 10(7) has commenced. It should be borne in mind that a request is one surveyor (or party) asking the other surveyor to fulfill an action. In contrast, and in context with the Act, serving a notice is in essence the opposite, it is not a request; it is informing the other surveyor of your future intentions viz what you intend to do, this is not a request. In effect by serving a request and then at a later date follow up with a notice stating you are giving them 10 days from your notice is not, in my opinion, in accordance with 10(7).
If you follow through 10(7) as it is written, the process in its simplest form is
serve a request - what is the natural or ordinary meaning of that word? does it mean anything else other than ask someone to do something?
wait 10 days - what is the natural or ordinary meaning of that word of phrase in its context in the statute? does it really mean 10 days or does it mean 15..20 days?
other surveyor neglects to act effectively? proceed ex parte on the subject matter only.
If you interrupt this process by giving a 10 day notice to the other surveyor instructing him / her to act effectively, has the notice invalidated the 10(7) process by superseding the request as you would very likely be proceeding to act ex parte on the basis of the notice rather than the initial request. A notice requirement that does not exist. If you are acting on the basis of the request, what is the purpose of the notice? given that the other surveyor would be expected to be conversant in the Act, all you are doing is extending the 10 day period! Are you confusing the issue by sending out mixed messages? In Frances Holland School the ex parte Award was invalid because the Award based its foundation on the wrong section of the Act, ‘The ex parte Award accordingly is inconsistent with the reference to the 10 day time limit’ albeit there were other reasons too.
Although Frances Holland School came under the auspices of the predecessor Act, in which a request in writing was requisite, it is clear to see that there is no room for error in the foundation on which any ex parte Award is based, it must be correct. In referring to the predecessor Act thought should be given to the words of Sir Peter Gibson as §26 Zissis v Lukomski  EWCA Civ 341
The obiter dictum above informs us that care should be taken when seeking to apply support from a predecessor Act, as there are inherent differences which may apply to one but not the other. If there were no differences in the application of interpreting both Acts in the same manner or in the same purpose then the predecessor would still be the current Act. The Acts are different and where the differences are apparent appropriate consideration must be given in the application of case law or persuasive arguments from obiter dictum or county courts. The requirement in the 1939 Act was for a 10-day request in writing, in the current Act a request will suffice and if the other surveyor neglects to act effectively for a period of 10 days then the other surveyor may proceed ex parte . Another subtle difference is that one of the parties serves the 10-day request, not the surveyor, whereby the current Act empowers either surveyor to serve a request. This highlights the difficulties faced when applying decisions from the different eras.
Before proceeding to act ex parte the active surveyor must be sure that the other surveyor has not been acting effectively behind the scenes, if he can show that he was acting effectively during the 10-day period the ex parte process will very likely fail. There is no provision within the text of 10(7) for the ineffective surveyor to announce that he is working effectively during that period.
What is a request? There is no indication within this subsection as to what constitutes a request, it does appear to allow quite a broad interpretation; it it is not narrowly focused.
If, as is the normal process, one surveyor serves a draft Award on his opposite number, what does the other surveyor do? what is expected of the other surveyor from the sender of the draft Award? If I receive a draft award I treat it as a request expecting me to respond to it, either by agreeing the award or by proposing amendments. I do not ignore it, especially not for 10 days! This view appears to be supported by the GB3 p76 we are told that ‘merely to acknowledge a draft award, or to reply that one did not like it, would not be acting ‘effectively’, nor would a succession of petty quibbles.’ If this view is taken at face value then on the expiration of 10 days the requesting surveyor may, but is not obligated to, proceed ex parte. GB3 p75 also informs us that ‘neglect’ is an ‘absence of action’ this supports my view put above in that a request is asking the other surveyor to perform an action, whether it is to agree the award or amend it; or whatever the subject matter is. GB3 does not make reference to any requirement or necessity to serve a 10-day notice to either section 10(6) or (7).
It is interesting to note that in the case of Cooke & Anor and C. J. Ashmore Properties Ltd, which was decided in the Birmingham Civil and Family Justice Hearing Centre on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 that HHJ Sarah Watson continually made reference to a 10-day notice and not request. I am unaware why this is or whether it is the approach Counsel(s) took in their preceding arguments and it has just been picked up and ran with. As stated, the Act states when a ‘notice’ is required but the word ‘request’ has been specifically chosen indicating the draughtsmen of the Act intended them to have different meanings, however subtle.
If we follow the guidance in Kay then we can see that by pursuing 10(6) + (7) the result does not lead us to an absurdity, in fact the only real difficulty arises is in substantiating the grounds to proceed ex parte or if the other surveyor springs into action just before you have served the Award - it could be in the post!
In ‘Amit Patel, Sonal Patel v John Paul Peters, Celine Madeline Larose Peters, David Neil Laurence Levy, Christine Anne Fox, John Charles Conway, Yvonne Teresa Conway  EWCA Civ 335 whereby Richards LJ stated at
What he does not say is, in following the service of a ‘10-day notice in writing’ furthermore he opines
Again, Richards LJ does not make any reference to a 10-day notice, let alone one in writing, being a prerequisite in any form; on the contrary it appears that he would see such a perceived requirement as a hindrance causing unnecessary delay. Therefore, I do not share any view that there is an obligation to serve such notice. Brightman J in Gyle-Thompson and Others v Wall Street (Properties) Ltd  1 W.L.R. 123 informs us that the steps laid don by the Act must be scrupulously followed…..
Scrupulously following the steps laid down by the Act must preclude the inclusion of surveyors adding additional steps to be taken. Especially given that anyone acting in the role of a party wall surveyor is expected to know what is and is not required of them, after all they are stepping into the shoes of a professional and are not working on minimum wage! Although the citation of Brightman J is from the predecessor Act the basis of the point put forward can be applied generically.
anything so done by him shall be as effectual as if he had been an agreed surveyor
This tells us that whatever the surveyor concludes in his ex parte matter is equivalent to that done by an agreed surveyor. This, on the simple reading of both sub-sections, must mean that the other surveyor and third surveyor are closed out of any involvement in the subject matter. There appears to be two different aspects to 10(6) + (7) in that 10(6) would be more likely to lead to an ex parte Award on the basis that the other surveyor is refusing to Act. The wording tells us that the other surveyor only needs to refuse to act effectively and, unlike 10(6) there is no restriction on what the surveyor wishing to proceed ex parte can proceed on. It would appear he has excluded himself from the current matter(s).The default only needs to occur once. In contrast to 10(6), 10(7) requires that the surveyor may only proceed ex parte on the subject matter, although this is somewhat broader than 10(6) it must be asked what areas other than proceeding to Award, are there available to pursue? Despite these options it is almost certain that any action will lead to an Award, after all, Richards LJ stated ‘the evident purpose of section 10(7) , namely the avoidance of delay occasioned by the failure of one of the surveyors to act effectively in relation to a particular matter.’
A dispute over fees led to an ex parte Award despite apparent agreement on other matters with a further effect of an ex parte Award appears to be the exclusion of the third surveyor, if we refer to Bansal v Myers, a Romford County Court case in which an adjoining owner’s surveyor served an ex parte Award, HHJ Platt stated
The above extract from the judgement does appear to confirm that the third surveyor has no jurisdiction in the matter that has been proceeded with in an ex parte manner. It also states that only the the appointed surveyors can determine the fees, which if the fees have not been a matter in dispute and one surveyor has proceeded ex parte, on interpretation, it is only that surveyor who can determine the other surveyor’s fees, which he may not be very willing to do if the refusenik surveyor has caused him extra work, which in my experience it does, with any fees that could be due set off by the extra fees incurred by the BO.
still a work in progress - last updated 12th November 2018 12:00