Installation firm wins case against negligent surveyors

An installation company has won compensation from a firm of surveyors who were negligent when assessing the suitability of properties for cavity wall insulation.

The installers won their case even though they had been negligent themselves.

Employees of the surveying firm had inspected two timber-framed houses to determine whether they were suitable to have cavity wall insulation. They confirmed that they were suitable.

The installers were also obliged to check the suitability of the property under the terms of the trade bodies of which they were members.

However, instead of doing their own checks, they relied on the verdict of the surveyors and installed the insulation.

The householders were not satisfied with the resulting work and sued the installers for breach of contract. The firm settled and then took legal action against the surveyors on the basis that they had been negligent in saying the houses were suitable for cavity insulation.

The surveyors defended themselves by saying it wasn’t the first time their employees had wrongly given positive surveys, but previously the installation company had noticed the mistake before work had begun.

They argued that by failing to carry out its own pre-installation check, the installation firm was partly to blame and so had broken the chain of causation which had begun with the faulty survey.

The surveyors added that 11 months had passed between their report and the installation work taking place. The suitability may have changed in the meantime.

The court ruled in favour of the installers. It said that while they had been negligent in their failure to carry out their own checks, their actions weren’t reckless. Their failure did not break the chain of causation from the surveyor’s original negligent survey.

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Case Featured

[2013] EWCA Civ 1702
CA (Civ Div) (Maurice Kay LJ, Rafferty LJ, Macur LJ) 19/12/2013