The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court trial judge’s decision that a valuer was negligent on a large commercial valuation. The valuation related to commercial property in Germany and the valuation provided in December 2005 was €135 million. The trial judge applied a bracket of 15% because of the unusual nature of the property and held that the true value at that time was just €103 million, and so below the 15% tolerance allowed. He awarded damages of €32 million.
The expert evidence at trial was highly complicated – perhaps not surprisingly given the value and nature of the property – and there was a huge disparity between the figures contended for by each party. The task of deciding between the cases being advanced was made even more difficult because of the trenchant attacks made by each party on the other’s experts and their competence.
However, in the end the Court of Appeal was persuaded to overturn the trial Judge’s conclusion because of a piece of independent evidence available, namely the prices at which the property had sold in the previous 5 years. In particular, there had been an arm’s length sale for €127 million just 6 months before the Defendant’s valuation, and the market had continued to rise after that sale.
It is fair to say that this is a significant over-simplification of a complicated analysis carried out by the trial judge and the Court of Appeal: real cases which are hard fought are rarely so easy! Most significantly, all of the transactions had qualifications. But the decision does perhaps remind practitioners that the independent piece of evidence – rather than the partisan contentions advanced by the parties – will often provide the court with the most reliable answer to a dispute.
See: Mortgage Titan Europe 2006-3 Plc v Colliers International UK Plc (in Liquidation)  EWCA Civ 1083