What is the point of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and how does it benefit me?

What is the point of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and how does it benefit me?

Friday 26th July 2019

What is the point of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and how does it benefit me I see as an experienced surveyor different opinions on the question "what is the point of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?" and "how does it benefit me?" The answer to this depends on whether it is coming from the Building Owner (the person carrying out the building works) or the Adjoining Owner (the person next to the building works being carried out).

From a Building Owners point of view, the whole process can be quite daunting as they initially see the legislation as extra fees, a burden and a slow and complicated legislation to overcome before they can start their building works. Most Building Owners only consider the implications of the Act shortly before they are about to begin and they become aware of the provisions of the Act and the statutory duties that they must abide by in relation to their neighbours.

However, we at Tayross Associates tend to bring much more to the table when it comes to acting on behalf of Building Owners. We tend to give input to the process and offer helpful advice so that your project gets off to a good start.

The main complaints that we receive about the Party Wall process from either party are:

  • From the Building Owners, is that they wish they had been aware of the provisions of the Act before they commenced their building project and that they had put more time aside to be able to comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
  • From the Adjoining Owners, their main complaint is that they wish that their neighbour had discussed their proposals with them before, during and after planning and also before serving any notices in relation to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is there not just for the Adjoining Owners benefit but also for the Building Owners benefit, as building works by their very nature are contentious and often end in disputes with neighbours. Hence why the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 was introduced in the first place, as a way to help resolve disputes between neighbours before they got out of hand.

The Act has given rise to relatively few reported cases since it came into force and even the number of cases decided on its predecessor, part 6 of the London Building Acts (Amendment) 1939 is not long. This is mostly due to the more pragmatic way in which experienced surveyors have approached disputes which have threatened to get out of hand and any lack of scope for argument afforded by the often obscure provisions of the statute itself.

Those who get it right and allow sufficient time for the serving of notices, tend to be very successful in reducing fee costs and keeping to the critical path of their projects whilst avoiding costly and frustrating delays.


This article was written by Carl O'Boyle BSc MRICS FCIOB MFPWS. Carl is a full professional member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building for which he currently sits on the CIOB professional conduct committee and adjudications panel.

If you have any Party Wall enquiries then please call us at our Pinner office on 0208 426 1448.