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Inaccurate local search

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Inaccurate local search

Postby theycantdothat » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:51 pm

A search company produced an inaccurate local search which stated that the road abutting the searched property was adopted when in fact it was not. The company has admitted its error. Since the search was not an official one the compensation provisions of the Local Land Charges Act 1975 do not apply.

On what basis are the damages the buyer is entitled to assessed? Is it:

(a) the difference between (i) the value of the property fronting an adopted road and (ii) the value of the property fronting an unadopted road;

or,

(b) the anticipated future cost of maintenance calculated on an actuarial basis;

or

(c) something else?

Does the buyer have a claim against her solicitor if he failed to advise of the difference between obtaining an official and unofficial search?
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby dls » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:15 pm

They first need to double check just whether that element of the search was indeed private. Agents we used (in the distant past) would provide a result which included formal elements from the local authority as well as strictly private results.

Many authorities have decisively abandoned any intention of adopting private roads (outside new developments).

Is it not obvious from the condition of the road that it was not adopted - was there any notice next to the street name?

Since the search company had admitted the error (and I presume negligence), the buyer should check that the solicitor has a copy of the search company's negligence insurance. We did this as a matter of course.
If the claim is on an insurance policy, would not the case be taken under a no-win-no-fee arrangement - in which case their lawyer will say how much it is worth. I do not anticipate it will be much at all.
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby atticus » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:24 pm

Damages for negligent misstatement would be based on Diminution in value: (a).
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby theycantdothat » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:28 am

In this case the buyer did suspect that the street might not be adopted. But surely what the buyer thinks may be the case or, indeed has been told, is irrelevant. The whole point of doing a search is to establish the position beyond doubt. If a search says the road is adopted there should be no need to enquire further.

On a separate point, supposing that the buyer successfully sues the search company but it turns out that they have no assets or are uninsured, does the buyer have a claim against the conveyancing firm?
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby atticus » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:50 am

The first para raises the question of reliance. Was the purchaser cynical enough to think he might get a bit of money back from the search company if it had made a mistake?

The second raises the question whether the conveyancer was negligent. In what way did he/she fall short of the conduct of the reasonably competent conveyancer?
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby dls » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:06 pm

In what way did he/she fall short of the conduct of the reasonably competent conveyancer?


Conveyancing standards - from long memory the requirement to check on this was part of the CML handbook.
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby theycantdothat » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:06 pm

atticus wrote:The first para raises the question of reliance. Was the purchaser cynical enough to think he might get a bit of money back from the search company if it had made a mistake?


Surely no one employs a professional in the hope they will botch the job so as to get compensation.

atticus wrote:The second raises the question whether the conveyancer was negligent. In what way did he/she fall short of the conduct of the reasonably competent conveyancer?


That is what I was wondering. Should the conveyancer have been aware that the statutory compensation only covers official searches? Should the conveyancer have issued any warnings to the buyer?

Another question: Is the conveyancer responsible to his client for the actions of any agent he employs? The buyer has paid the conveyancer to "do the conveyancing" and that includes establishing whether the property is on an adopted road.
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby atticus » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:14 pm

My point was as to whether this purchaser might have been going to buy this property anyway, but might have seen an opportunist angle to get something back.
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby theycantdothat » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:28 pm

atticus wrote:My point was as to whether this purchaser might have been going to buy this property anyway, but might have seen an opportunist angle to get something back.


Not sure I follow you.
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Re: Inaccurate local search

Postby atticus » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:48 pm

Let's start with what this purchaser would have done had the search result come out correctly. We have someone who had agreed a price, knowing that the road might be unadopted.

A vigorous defence would test this purchaser thoroughly.

If he had believed the road was adopted all along, and would have proceeded differently if advised correctly, then the claim is clear.
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