City analysis: professional negligence

Scullion (appellant) v Bank of Scotland (trading as Colleys)

William McCormick QC
William McCormick QC

This case is one of the most important concerning valuers’ liability in the UK following the last property market crash. The CoA ruling in June 2011 stopped a potential barrage of claims against surveyors from investors in the buy-to-let market. This decision is now being appealed.

The appellant agreed to purchase a flat and made an application for finance from a specialist buy-to-let mortgage provider. A valuer employed by Colleys, since acquired by Bank of Scotland, was instructed to provide a valuation report of the capital value and the anticipated rental value of the development.

After completion, Scullion was only able to let the flat for half of the monthly value Colleys had predicted. He launched a negligence claim against Colleys, which responded that a duty of care was not owed to the claimant. The CoA agreed with the respondent.

Almost all parties concerned with valuers’ professional negligence claims are watching and waiting for the outcome of this dispute. The result will affect professional indemnity insurers, negligence lawyers, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and its members.

For the appellant Scullion: Ely Place Chambers’ William McCormick QC leading Thomas More Chambers’ Philip Noble, instructed by Miller Rosenfalck partner John Kenneally

For the respondent Bank of Scotland (trading as Colleys): Maitland Chambers’ Tom Leach QC leading Tom Grant instructed by Walker Morris solicitor Marie-Louise Gobbi

When? 10-11 April

Judges: Panel of seven, to be confirmed