Linking the negligence to the loss

An issue which arises frequently in professional negligence claims is exemplified in the case of Platform Funding Ltd v Anderson and Associates Ltd [2010] EWHC 1853 (QB).  There may have been a breach of duty on the part of the professional, but did this cause the loss? 

In this case, a claim was brought against a firm of chartered surveyors alleging that they had been negligent in carrying out a valuation of a new development of a flat, which the claimant had relied upon before lending money.  The borrower defaulted; the flat was repossessed and sold by the lender at a loss.  The lender sought to recover from the surveyor. 

The court held that the valuation had been carried out without reasonable skill and care.  The surveyors had not carried out a number of steps which were required by RICS guidance and in particular had failed to seek appropriate comparables.  However, the court held that the claimant’s loss was not caused by the negligence of the surveyors.  Had the valuation been carried out properly, the value arrived at would have been the same.  Therefore, the link between the negligence of the surveyor and the claimant’s loss was not made out. 

The case is a reminder that the issue of causation is critical in all negligence cases, regardless of how strong a case may be in terms of establishing a professional’s breach of duty.