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The latest edition of RICS' professional standard sets out best practice for surveyors managing rights of light ("ROL") matters between developers and adjoining owners and will be effective from 1 June 2024.

Introducing a Protocol on how ROL disputes should be managed on both sides, the guidance seeks to ensure ROL experts act in a way that assists clients and legal advisors, minimises the scope of issues and enables disputes to be resolved promptly.

Providing considerations to be taken into account from the point of initial instruction, the preparation of surveys, technical analysis and reports, through to dealing with dispute resolution, compensation, release deeds and acting as a court expert witness it:

  • Includes guidance on initial letters to be exchanged between the parties;
  • Gives suggestions on the information both parties may request from each other and suggested timescales for this to be provided; and
  • Encourages steps to be taken before proceedings are issued, including exchanging information, without prejudice meetings and discussions between surveyors to narrow issues, issuing open correspondence and considering alternative dispute resolution.

It also comments that the traditional method of technical assessment (Waldram analysis) has a number of inherent inaccuracies and notes experts should be aware of the other methods of measurement and should consider the extent to which these may be relevant.

ROL is a specialist and complex area and disputes in this area can be long running and costly. If issues can be narrowed, resolutions may be reached more swiftly and economically.

However, as the guidance recognises, each case is different and the recommendations may not suit every circumstance, particularly if the developer has an insurance policy or if there is doubt as to whether the adjoining owner benefits from a right of light. As such the guidance emphasises the need to seek legal advice.

Our team has extensive experience in all aspects of rights of light matters and can advise on the most appropriate strategy at all stages from prospective acquisition of development sites through to the management of claims.