Legislation: London Building Act 1894
The adjoining owner’s / defendants George Moultrie Salt and Spencer William Grant were the owners of the freehold of 9 Portsmouth Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Middlesex (now located in the City of Westminster).
The building owners of 10 Portsmouth Street did on the 2nd November 1903 serve notice (under S90 of the London Building Act 1894) on 9 Portsmouth Street.
Through the process of the Award (served on the 10th October 1904, under S91 of the London Building Act 1894) it was found that:
- The wall was of insufficient strength for the purposes of the building owner (having been condemned by the district surveyor, should be rebuilt by the building owner on the centreline of the old wall).
- That the cost should be borne by the building owner; however, the adjoining owner should pay a share of the cost involved.
On October 12, 1904 the plaintiff (or the individual bringing the matter to court) entered into an open contract with the defendants George Moultrie Salt and Spencer William grant for the purchase of 9 Portsmouth Street.
The defendants neglected to disclose the Notice and Award served under the London Building Act. The purchaser / plaintiff entered into the contract paying a deposit of 195l for a price of 1950l.
With the wall now in a dangerous state of disrepair, a dangerous structure Notice was served under the London Building Act 1894 and the Amendment Act 1898 on the defendants.
Once aware, the plaintiff’s solicitor requested compensation due to the withheld information and on the 6th January 1905 wrote requesting the return of the deposit.
On the 22nd of February 1905 the contract was rescinded and the repayment of the deposit with interest, together with costs, expenses of the negotiations and investigation of title.
Although Turner v. Green  came to conclude that such circumstances would not entitle the purchaser to rescind the contract, the consensus is that, while the vendor was not obliged to do so, the Party Wall Notice and Award can be seen as a latent defect or matter that would require the attention of a Building Owner at a later time and therefore affects the material value of the property.
This case ultimately follows Stevens v. Adamson and the order of return of deposit, with interest, together with costs of investigating the title and instigating the action.
While modern property transactions may differ and there are express provisions under the new legislation i.e. the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 to compensate adjoining owners, this case reflects the general view of the courts should dispute arise in similar circumstances. Party Wall Awards and notices should therefore be disclosed during the course of property transactions. Party Wall Matters are one of the first pre-survey questions surveyors ask when undertaking a pre-purchase building surveys.