Phone Number: 01732 313 076

email:: info@edwardprentice.co.uk

What is a Expert Witness Surveyor

  • Posted by:
  • Admin
  • Tags:
  • Posted date:
  • 24-02-2021
What is a Expert Witness Surveyor

In this article we ask the question: What is a Expert Witness Surveyor? A property expert witness offers surveys and valuations for a range of projects including legal disputes. Find out what an expert witness is and what they can do for you.

An expert witness gives evidence in court proceedings on a particular subject they have particular knowledge or experience of. Given that they are an expert in their field, the court can trust their opinions or information provided by them. 

Regarding surveyors, an expert witness accredited by the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) may give independent information or advice in cases involving a building or property, land, leases or developments.    

When are RICS expert witnesses needed? 

Expert witnesses are contacted in cases where their expertise may be necessary for a judgement to be made in a case. They can offer information that will allow the court to judge certain factors or illuminate specific facts that they would otherwise be unaware of. The ruling court may choose to call a chartered surveyor to provide information for the case. As mentioned before, an RICS witness could be called to help in several situations.  

Lease Advisory: rent reviews or lease renewals would also fall under the remit of chartered surveyors. As an independent arbitrator, a chartered surveyor would act for both the freeholder and their tenants on various property types such as a building, workspaces, shops, hospitality etc.  

Compulsory Purchase: a chartered surveyor may also be called to help provide a report or advice regarding compensation disputes by advising both the state (or whoever is purchasing the land or property) as well as the claimants.

Valuation: chartered surveyors can be asked to give opinions and information on the valuation of various assets, such as a building, workspaces, shops, developments and land. By surveying these assets, they will be able to establish a market value for them. 

Development & Land: as expert witnesses, RICS surveyors can find a value for land being developed via construction or other means through Development Viability Reports. They can also aid developers with financial provisions and other advice on legal matters concerning their developments.  

What does an RICS expert witness surveyor do? 

An RICS expert witness surveyor will use their experience to find evidence and form judgements relevant to the case by visiting the property or land mentioned in the legal case. An independent report will then be compiled in conjunction with the Civil Procedure Rules, ensuring that they remain objective when assessing the inquiry. As stated before, the surveyor must act as a third-party between the court and the litigants, with the court maintaining overall authority. Their accounts should then stick entirely to the facts, allowing nothing else to influence the conclusion detailed in their report.    

HOW MUCH DOES AN EXPERT WITNESS COST? 

Given that an expert witness will often be used along with a solicitor, their fees are often expensive. With many experts charging hourly fees, this can be anything from £50 - £1,500 per hour. If the monetary amount involved in the case is relatively small, the two parties might decide to share a witness's fees jointly. If they can agree on which expert should be employed for the case, this will save them from hiring their own, individual ones to produce individual reports.   

What if the report doesn’t support my case? 

Given that litigants are not always sure to win their cases, a witness will provide a brief report that will allow the two parties to decide if they want to continue paying for their assistance. This account will contain preliminary advice and thoughts on the case. Therefore, if the proceedings do not look to be winnable, the expert witness' services can be terminated. Under the Civil Procedure Rules, they must remain objective throughout their testimony; their judgements and information presented in the record must be based on empirical facts to remain impartial and avoid showing bias to one party or the other in the case.   

Who is responsible for the surveyor's fees?

It is the litigants' responsibility to pay for the services of an expert witness. Given that witnesses and solicitors work hand in hand, it will be the solicitor's responsibility to recuperate any due fees. Ultimately it is up to the judge of the case to decide who must pay these fees.

What are the legal obligations of the expert witness once the report has been finalised? 

What are the legal obligations of the expert witness once the report has been finalised? An expert witness has a legal duty of care towards those involved in the case. They must demonstrate professionalism at all times and should not subject their clients to incompetence or negligence. The witness' final report must contain a clause which demonstrates their understanding of this duty to the court and their compliance with the necessary obligations under the Civil Procedure Rules. This includes the citation and explanation of all information gathered and used in their account.

Instructing an expert witness

It is common practice that any instruction given to an expert witness should be delivered through a solicitor. This ensures that any information provided to them is relevant to both the case and the account they are producing. Any information should be delivered to the chartered surveyor before they arrive at the property they will assess and give opinions on; giving them time to create a preliminary report for their clients. This information could also be used in the final account that they submit. While the expert witness' statement should produce sufficient evidence and opinions for a judgement of the case to be made, they may attend the court if they are required to. 

Types of cases

There are many types of cases which an expert witness surveyor might be called for. 

These may include;

  • Negligence of tenants 
  • A seller of a house misrepresenting their property 
  • Overvaluation of property cases 
  • Sources and causes of dry-rot 
  • A previous surveyors failure to identify hazardous materials  
  • General negligence by previous surveyors 
  • Substandard reporting outside of Level 2 Homebuyer Report 
  • Formats Local Authorities failure to care for a property 
  • Damage to a property through work on an adjacent property 
  • Cases of personal injury, where valuation to establish the effects of property decisions are required.   


If you want to know: What is an expert witness surveyor? Then there is a good chance that you require a survey or a valuation for a commercial property or legal dispute. If you are looking for commercial property valuation in Tonbridge, Kent and the surrounding areas, our RICS expert witness can help.