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Mortgage Lenders Can Pursue ‘Deceit’ Claim Against Surveyors

In a case which raised a tricky issue of contractual construction, a mortgage lender who alleged that surveyors deceitfully overvalued over 40 properties has been allowed to proceed with the entirety of its claim by the Court of Appeal.

The lenders launched proceedings against the surveyors alleging that they were at fault in relation to 46 valuations, and deceitfully so in relation to 41 of them. Those allegations were denied and, in order to enable settlement negotiations, the parties signed a contract by which they agreed that time would stand still for the purposes of any time limit defence that might be available to the surveyors.

An issue arose as to whether the contract suspended time only in relation to the lender’s negligence claims or whether it also extended to the claims in deceit. A judge answered that question in the surveyors’ favour. In allowing the lender’s appeal, however, the Court found that, on a true construction of the stand still agreement, it embraced all the matters in dispute.