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03 August 2022

Don’t be late to the party: limitations and party wall disputes

In their recent case review, published in EG (Estates Gazette) and linked below with kind permission, property disputes expert Scott Goldstein of Payne Hicks Beach and Cecily Crampin of Falcon Chambers review a case on the question of limitation periods that has been the subject of much discussion in party wall circles.

In their article, “Late to the party: limitation and the Party Wall etc Act” the focus is on the implications of the case of Park Lane Holdings Inc and another v Saidco International and others (G20CL136, County Court of Central London). This was an appeal against a party wall award which involved “an unusual set of facts”.  With the original award being made in 2009, the same surveyor made an addendum award in November 2020 against two companies which were successive headlessees of the property, despite neither being the building owner in 2009. The companies appealed on 12 grounds, including one concerning limitation.

Although Judge Parfitt ruled in favour of the appellants on ground one (whether the surveyor had jurisdiction to make the addendum award), the additional eleven grounds were also examined – including the question of limitation.  Judge Parfitt agreed with the analysis presented by Counsel to the appellants, that “limitation would start to run from whatever date it was in 2009 when [the subject flat] first suffered damage”.

Whilst this is, as Scott and Cecily point out, in accordance with the policy of preventing stale claims, the decision of the county court at central London is not the end of the matter. They explore the scope of the judgment, the implications for building owners and surveyors. Twelve months on from the judgment, they conclude that adjoining owners who have suffered damage “ought to act with all reasonable speed to encourage the surveyors to make a party wall award if they are to avoid facing limitation issues”.

For further information, please contact Scott Goldstein by email or call 020 7465 4326

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Scott Goldstein
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