Structural Defects FAQ

Advice and Assistance from Cohen Cramer

Q. How much does an initial review cost?

A)   This differs in each case and is dependent on the amount of documentation there is to review relevant to your claim. Structural claims can vastly differ and therefore it is impossible to provide a fixed fee quote to carry out the initial review until we are in receipt of the documentation.

Q)   Why should I pay for an initial review of my claim?

A)   An initial review of your claim will allow us to highlight the potential merits and pitfalls within your claim. It will allow us the opportunity to provide you with our professional opinion as to whether your claim has prospects of being successful, assess whether you need expert evidence and highlight what options are available to you to pursue your claim.

Q)   What is an ‘expert witness’ report and why does it differ from a ‘normal’ report?

A)   An expert witness report is a written statement by an expert qualified to such a level so that their opinion is admissible evidence in Court. Their duty is to the court and the report is independent and produced to assist the court.

Q)   Why do I need expert evidence?

A)   An expert report is required to substantiate and support your claim, and to quantify your losses (i.e. the value of your claim). The report will generally document the issues that your property has, the remedial works required to be carried out and the cost of such works. The report serves as your evidence when bringing a claim. In most cases where a claim is over £10,000, a court will only consider the expert’s opinion on the matter and not your own views.

Q)   What happens after you have carried out your review?

A)   Once we have carried out our initial review, we will advise you on your position, setting out the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, and what further steps are available to you going forward to resolve your dispute. Following this review, we will also be able to provide you with an indication of costs going forward.

Q)   What if the party at fault refuses to settle or reply to the Letter of Claim?

A)   If the party at fault refuses to settle or respond to the Letter of Claim, then in most cases, providing there is favourable expert evidence, the next step would be to issue court proceedings. If no response is received to the issued claim, then it is likely you would be successful in obtaining judgment (in default) against the other party.

Q)   What if the party at fault doesn’t have any money to pay for the remedial works, or the Company goes ‘bust’?

A)   If you suspect that the party at fault does not have any money or is about to go’ bust’, then you may still be able to claim against the warranty provider (if a warranty has been provided, and subject to the defects being one that is covered by the warranty).

If there is no warranty, and no other form of insurance to claim on, then even if you were successful in bringing a claim against the at fault party, it is unlikely you will recover any of the monies owing to you.

Q)   The underwriter of my property’s warranty has gone into liquidation. Can I still make a claim?

A)   If your property’s warranty underwriter has gone into liquidation, then you will be unable to bring a claim under your property’s warranty, unless an alternative underwriter can be found by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). In some cases, you may still be able to bring a claim directly against the developer if you are still within the time period to bring a claim.

Q)   What if my claim is for under £10,000?

A)   If your claim is for under £10,000, then it would usually be allocated to the court’s small claims track. The small claims track is designed to be used by individuals to bring a claim without the need of legal assistance. This does not mean that you cannot seek legal assistance if you wish to, however, in most cases, it would be disproportionate to involve a solicitor in small claims matters as legal costs are not usually recoverable, even if you were successful in bringing your claim and in many cases outweigh the sums being claimed.

Q)    Can I make a claim for stress, loss of enjoyment or inconvenience?

Yes, it is possible to make a claim for compensation for stress, loss of enjoyment or inconvenience, however, the awards made are not usually substantial unless there are clear physical symptoms or illnesses arising out of the distress, and evidence to support the same. For more information on this topic please click here for an interesting article on this in our blog section.

In most cases, due to the likely small claims’ nature (i.e. being under £10,000) we would not be able to assist in bringing a claim under this heading on a standalone basis (for example, if all other remedial works have been carried out).