The Part Wall Act 1996 (in a nutshell)

  • Facilitates construction work in the vicinity of property boundaries.
  • Provides a framework for preventing and resolvingdisputes in relation to Party Walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings
  • Building Owners are given a statutory right to undertake building works at the boundary.
  • Adjoining Owners are given a statutory right not to be subjected to unnecessary inconvenience by the Building Owners works.
  • Building Owners must give the appropriate notice and relevant notice period if they intend carrying out building work which involves one of the following categories:-
  1. Work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property (section 2 of the act)
  2. Building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with the neighbouring property (section 1 of the Act)
  3. Excavating near a neighbouring building (section 6 of the Act)
  • Consent to the works by the Adjoining Owner in writing usually means that the provisions of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 are followed through
  • A dispute arises when an Adjoining Owner has worries/ concerns with the proposed works or simply fails to respond to the Building Owner notices. Under these situations, the appointed Party Wall Surveyor(s) draw up a Party Wall Award specifying the building works and how they should be carried out.
  • Although not specifically required by the Act, a conditions survey of the adjoining properties is usually carried out so that any damage caused by the works is more readily identified.

Professional advisors

As a professional advising clients proposing to carry out building works you will, no doubt, be aware and have some experience of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Party wall matters are not very exciting but it is the law and the consequences of ignoring the Act can be significant.

The Act is complex and has been criticised for being poorly drafted which has led to several well known legal cases.

In the well known case of Gyle-Thompson and Others v Wall Street (Properties) Ltd [1974] 1 All ER 295 the Judge said”…it therefore seems to me important that the steps laid down by the Act should be scrupulously followed throughout and short cuts are not desirable…”

The process in a nutshell is;

  • The identification of a relevant Party Wall/Structure
  • The identification of notifiable works
  • Valid appointment of Party Wall Surveyor(s) and Third Surveyor
  • Correct identification of relevant owners
  • The serving of the appropriate notices to the Adjoining Owners
  • Condition schedules (although not strictly required by the Act)
  • Management of expectations and resolution of any disputes
  • Serving the Award
  • Managing access and rights of entry
  • Completion of the notifiable works, inspection and checking damage
Its too easy to dismiss or ignore the requirements of the Act and/or short cut the process but the consequences are often injunctible as demonstrated, amongst other things, by Louis and other v Sadiq [1974] 1 EGLR 136. The costs and damages awarded to the Adjoining Owner in this case could have been avoided all together if the Building Owner had taken proper and expert advice from a fully qualified Party Wall Surveyors from the outset.

As direct result of the increase in complaints its also claimed the Professional Indemnity insurers are being called into increasing number of cases of alleged malpractice.

FAQ’S



The Department for Communities and Local Government produce a free Explanatory Booklet on the Party Wall etc Act which covers the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and answers the majority of FAQ’S. Please follow the following link but if you have any other queries please do not hesitate to contact us. http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/partywall