law case Essay

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Mr Maclean could bring a claim of professional negligence against the surveyor called Miss Cambridge who was employed by a locally reputable company of surveyors called Burgess & Co on Mr Maclean’s behalf.

There was a sufficient proximity between Mr Maclean and Miss Cambridge, because Miss Cambridge was employed to survey the property on Mr Maclean’s behalf, the valuation of the property decided by Miss Cambridge will directly affect the interest of Mr Maclean. It was foreseeable that if Miss Cambridge valued incorrectly, Mr Maclean will have an economic loss. It was also just and reasonable to impose the liability because Mr Maclean highly relied on Miss Cambridge’s technical skills. Lord Griffiths expressed the premises of a duty of care as follows in the case of Smith v Eric Bush: “only if it is foreseeable that if the advice is negligent the recipient is likely to suffer damage, that there is a sufficient proximate relationship between the parties and that it is just and reasonable to impose the liability”. (Smith v Eric Bush [1990] 1 AC 831) Thus, Miss Cambridge owes Mr Maclean a duty of care.

The first responsibility of a qualified surveyor, Miss Cambridge, is using her technical skills and experience to summarize the cause and the degree of the damage, giving a complete picture of the condition of the property and its value in a report. The other three responsibilities are deciding whether there is any areas need closer examination, deciding the limitations of the survey and the necessary remedial work. On the day Miss Cambridge visited the property, she felt not very well, the conditions of the light and her camera were also not in a good condition. She did not take any photographs for the garage during the inspection as was usual practice because the battery of the camera was dead at that time. However, Miss Cambridge stated in her report: “for its age the property is in excellent condition and will require nothing other than maintenance in the near future”. In fact, the asbestos roof of the garage had to be removed, because the roof was actually in a very poor state, which was being fragile and brittle. Besides this, Mr Maclean’s surveyor said that the infested wood under the wooden flooring which Miss Cambridge defined as “sound quality” will need to be stripped out, which would cost £70,000 approximately. Therefore, the true value of the property was actually £210,000 not the £250,000 Mr Maclean had paid valued by Miss Cambridge. In Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, Lord Atkin stated the proximity and hence when liability as: “persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably have them in my contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called into question” (Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562) Firstly, although the external conditions were not good enough on the day Miss Cambridge visited the property, Miss Cambridge should visit it again on the other days for a closer examination, such as taking some photos of the garage, in order to get the information more accurately therefore deciding the valuation more precisely. Secondly, Miss Cambridge did not point out the necessary remedial works for the roof of garage and the wooden flooring. Although Miss Cambridge may defend that she is a newly qualified surveyor, it will not be valid. Kenny v Hall Pain and Foster [1976] 239 EG 335 defined: “there is no variable standard for professionals – how long one has been qualified is not a defence. (Keeny v Hall Pain and Foster [1976] 239 EG 355) According to the two points above, Miss Cambridge had breached the duty of care.

As Mr Maclean employed Miss Cambridge to value the property on his behalf, Mr Maclean relied on Miss Cambridge technical skills and knowledge, the wrong valuation decided by Mr Cambridge made Mr Maclean had paid £40,000 more than the true value of the property. The breach caused an economic loss to Mr…