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A developer who relied on the advice of a firm of quantity surveyors (QS) without fully formalising their terms of engagement in the form of a contract found recently that the court was unwilling to imply into the terms of engagement a duty by the QS to value only work which had been properly executed by the contractor.
The developer retained the QS to value work done by a building contractor and reported by the architect. The architect was instructed to inform the QS of any defects in the work done which would affect the valuation. The defects which formed the basis of the dispute were not reported. Despite this, the developer sued the QS as well as the contractor and the architect.
The court found that the responsibilities of the QS could not be regarded as so stringent as to imply that they were responsible for a valuation taking account of all defects, not just those reported to them, in the absence of a specific legal agreement to that effect. The firm was required to act with reasonable skill and care as would any QS of ordinary competence and experience when preparing the valuations of work done based on the works properly executed. In this, their reliance on the architect to inform them of work which affected the valuation was appropriate. They had no positive obligation to inspect the works which they were valuing.
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