It had long been thought that party wall surveyors could only make an award if the building owner had served a notice. This was the view expressed by the Court of Appeal in Louis v Sadiq. If no notice had been served then the adjoining owner would be left to apply for an injunction.
However, that case was decided under the section 55 of the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939, which provided:-
“the agreed surveyor or as the case may be the three surveyors or any two of them shall settle by award any matter … to which a notice under this part of this Act…relates”
However, the law changed in the Party wall etc. Act 1996. Section 10 now provides:-
“The agreed surveyor or as the case may be the three surveyors or any two of them shall settle by award any matter…which is connected with any work to which this Act relates”
This wording is far broader, and removes the requirement for a notice to be served before surveyors can make an award. Therefore, the surveyors can be appointed and make awards even where notices have not been served.
This is a useful alternative to an injunction. In cases where the building owner has commenced notifiable works, but there is no real danger to the adjoining owners property, the adjoining owner may elect to appoint a surveyor rather than incur the cost of making an application for an injunction.