The term party wall surveyor is frequently used to describe a person who specialises in resolving disputes arising under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. This legislation is only applicable to England and Wales, which, on 1st July 1997, replaced Part VI of the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939, which was only applicable to the Inner London Boroughs.
A surveyor appointed under the provisions of the Act has a duty to the Act and not to the party or parties appointing him/her. There is no client-surveyor relationship in the normal sense, as the surveyor has an ‘appointing owner’. A person acting as a ‘surveyor’ under section 10 of the 1996 Act requires no qualifications as a surveyor (or any other profession) and can accept the appointment so long as he or she is not ‘a party to the matter’ in dispute.
It is best to appoint someone who has been trained by the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and has a good working knowledge of the Act. The party wall surveyor’s role is to resolve differences between neighbours when building works to a party structure are proposed, or within specified distances from a neighbour’s property.