Missed opportunity

Posted: 12th March 2012

An expert witnOffices246ess appointed to report on the value of an 18-storey office block in Bristol being acquired under a compulsory purchase order from a development company forgot about three offers that had been made by prospective buyers of the property and so failed to include them in his report.
His omission was not picked up by anyone else connected with the development company. The Council acquiring the building also did not disclose the offers and so the Lands Tribunal placed a value on the property of £4.5 million. This compared with the company’s valuation of £15-24 million and the Council’s valuation of £2.4 million.
The development company argued all the way to the Court of Appeal that it should be allowed to reopen the valuation hearing. Even though it offered to pay all the costs of the hearing, the Court rejected its pleas.
In its view, neither the company nor the expert witness had acted with reasonable diligence to bring the missing evidence to the Tribunal’s attention. ‘We forgot’ is not an acceptable excuse in such cases.
The Court went on to say that if the failure to include details of the offers was solely the fault of the valuation witness, following the Supreme Court’s recent decision that the immunity from suit for breach of duty previously enjoyed by expert witnesses should be abolished, it was open to the development company to seek redress for this failure through the courts.
Failing to submit all the relevant evidence in support of your position can be an expensive mistake in litigation!