The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (“RICS”) has released the 7th edition of its Party Wall Legislation and Procedure Guidance Note, with the provisions of the updated Guidance Note effective from 1 December 2019. This applies to RICS members and firms regulated by RICS.

Many well-known and experienced practitioners experienced in Party Wall work (including Nick Isaac QC and Jack Norton of Schofield Surveyors) have contributed to and/or been involved in re-drafting the Guidance Note.

The 7th edition of the Guidance Note is the first update for over eight years and contains a number of important and notable changes, including:

  • A more concise draft precedent Award;
  • Additional precedent draft letters for use by surveyors;
  • Guidance in respect of service of Notices electronically; and
  • The sample form of Schedule of Condition is no longer appended to the Guidance Note, the form and content of the Schedule will be a matter for the judgement of the surveyors appointed in each case.

The 7th edition of the Guidance Note also addresses in greater detail the standard of professional conduct required by surveyors when accepting Party Wall instructions as well as clarifying the position in relation to conflicts of interest and the inter-relationship between the mandatory internal complaints handling procedure and the role of a surveyor under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

One important part of the Guidance Note that has not changed is the reminder (sometimes required!) that the role of Party Wall surveyor is a statutory appointment, personal to the individual surveyor and independent of instructions from an appointing party.

Whilst much of the content of the 7th edition of the Guidance Note will be familiar to practitioners, the importance of adhering to its provisions should be well understood by surveyors – those who do not do so at their peril!