Our second chose boundary surveyor after we asked him to confirm that he had previous Expert Witness experience gave us a reasonable cost for the initial Expert Witness report required and we employed him.
Once both Expert Witness reports had been exchanged and the dispute had been given a Tribunal Court date our Expert Witness costs increased dramatically with his unnecessary activities and to be franc extortionate costs.
This over charging dispute is ongoing and due to go to the Small Claims court as shown below, I will advise on the outcome of this court case.
We have 3 issues with Mr ****** second and final invoice cost items listed below.We employed ****** as our Expert Witness on the 30th October 2015 after a telephone conversation and a site visit with a brief survey of the Boundary Line by Mr ****** and his son.
A fee of £350 had been agreed via the initial telephone conversation, no mention of VAT was made by Mr ****** until he issued his first invoice on 8th November 201. We sent Mr ****** a copy he had requested of the Tribunal Judges Order on the 5th November 2015 with section 3 of that Order stating what was required of the Expert Witnesses by the Tribunal Judge, this section 3 is shown below.
‘PROPERTY CHAMBER LAND REGISTRATION FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL Judges ORDER
Section 3. Additional directions (if any)
Each Party has permission to adduce the expert evidence of one surveyor as to the location of the disputed boundary. Signed expert reports are to be exchanged and filed with the Tribunal by 27 November 2015. The experts are to discuss their reports by 6 January 2016 and by 13 January are to file with the Tribunal a joint report (or separate reports if a single one cannot be agreed) stating where they are agreed and what is not agreed.’
Mr ****** first Expert Witness Report was copied to us and Mr **** ***** the neighbours Expert Witness on 8th November 2015 in line with the Tribunal Judges Order, along with Mr ****** first Invoice, which now included VAT totalling £420, this was paid without any dispute by us and put down as our inexperience in these matters.Mr ****** contacted Mr **** ***** on the 30th November 2015 to arrange the required Joint Meeting between Expert Witnesses, this was arranged for 9th December 2015. Mr ****** also on the 30th November 2015 emailed me his £60 hourly rate for any additional work required and sent us estimated costs for the Joint Meeting with Mr **** ***** and the additional Expert Witness Report required from that Joint Meeting. This estimate was from £600 to £720 inclusive of VAT and did not include any costs for Mr ****** attending the Tribunal Court Hearing.
Mr ****** also on the 30th November 2015 emailed Mr **** ***** and stated “took the liberty to prepare a proposed schedule of discussion and the format for our joint report” at a cost to us on his disputed invoice of £360 dated 29/11/2015 and a additional cost for the same activity of £420 dated 15/12/2015, a total of £780 as shown on your marked-up cost schedule .
Both these payments were not to the Tribunal Judges Order and the first cost was 10 days prior to the Joint Meeting when neither Expert Witness knew if they agreed on any issues, the second cost after the Joint Meeting it was clear that no agreement could be reached. These were premature and unnecessary costs that Mr ****** had raised and not in line with his estimated costs or the Tribunal Judges Order.
Mr **** ***** ignored Mr ****** email and invoiced none of these costs. Emails on our concerns about Mr ****** unnecessary spirally costs against us were sent by us to Mr ****** on the 18/19/23rd December 2015
Another cost item on Mr ****** second and final Invoice we dispute is the 26/02/2016 £360 cost for as Mr ****** describes it “Prepare for Hearing and review your documents”. The only documents that were legally required at the Tribunal Hearing were the “Trial Bundle” documents as defined in the Tribunal Judges Order prepared and indexed by both clients and had no input from both Expert Witness except for their separate Expert Witness Reports which were included in the Trial Bundle Documents by the clients. The Tribunal Judges Order shown below confirms this.
‘PROPERTY CHAMBER LAND REGISTRATION
Section 1. Hearing Bundles
(3) Generally the Trial Bundle should contain clear legible. copies of: (a) The statements of case served by each of the parties; (b) Witness statements served by each of the parties; (c) Documents attached to or referred to in the statements of case or witness statements; and (d) Any other relevant documents served by a party.
(6) Responsibility for the preparation of the trial Bundle shall rest with the Applicant.
(8) The Applicant shall then add the documents which that party wishes to be included, avoiding any unnecessary duplication.
(9) Documents which have not previously been disclosed to the other party/ies shall not be included.
(11) The Applicant shall bring an extra copy to the hearing for the use of witnesses.’
My final issue with Mr ****** second and final Invoice, with Mr ****** stating he is to be paid by the hour at £60 per hour we have issues with the number of hours Mr ****** is claiming mainly against his time spent on the Tribunal Hearing Day. With the Hearing not commencing until 10-30am and finishing around 3-0pm with a 45 minute lunch break and taking into account Mr ****** early arrival, 10am and his travelling time from his home/office to the Court Building of approximately 5 miles each way the maximum hours expended against our costs was 5 hours or £300 not the 8 hours or £480 Mr ****** is claiming. We have smaller issues shown on Mr ****** marked up cost schedule with the number of hours he is claiming against reading and responding to emails and the letters he sent to the Tribunal Judge in attempting to clarify his errors and unnecessary shared costs, these letters were ignored by the Judge.
We are not attempting to get out of paying Mr ****** a fair and just fee for the work that he carried out and the hours he expended. The only printed costs agreement we have with Mr ****** was his email stating his new hourly rate of £60 per hour for any continuing work after his initial Expert Witness Report cost of £350 plus VAT, £420 and his estimated costs to us for the Joint Meeting and final Separate Expert Witness Report required from that Joint Meeting of £600 to £720 inclusive of VAT.
If we take Mr ****** higher estimated cost of £720 and add Mr ******, claimed 8 hour Hearing Court costs of £480 this would give a figure of £1200 plus the £420 from the first invoice gives a total of £1620.
When you also compare this £1620 cost above with our neighbours Expert Witness, **** ***** costs who carried out the same activities with the addition of generating AutoCAD A3 coloured scaled and dimensioned Boundary Line Plans, his total costs were £1435.20.
Or accept the fair and just hours we have stated we are happy to pay on Mr ****** marked-up cost schedule at £1510 for both Mr ****** Invoices.
I would ask for our costs to be reviewed and considered against all the above evidence.
This post is one of thirteen posts that are listed in a menu on my Home Page to cover all the required actions and documents that are required to resolve Boundary Disputes.