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When is a dispute not a dispute?

When the party wall act was drafted the term 'dispute' was used to describe what happens when descent is received or deemed to have arisen from the service of party wall notices.

My experience of dealing with party wall matters tells me that this term is often perceived by people dealing with the act as overly confrontational and, at times this is misleading and incendiary.

The term most probably arises from the historic drafting of the old Victorian London building acts, and carried over into the modern party wall act. Historically perhaps the emphasis was on a less collaborative approach, than we would expect of professional people today.

When dealing with owners in the midst of a dispute, I explain to people that it should not be seen as a dispute in the normal sense, but as a technical dispute, as defined by the act. There does not need to be anything personal about a dissent from party wall notices, and in most cases having an award in place provides comfort to both the adjoining owner and building owner; it should provide reassurance that matters have been determined fairly, and that everyone knows where they stand, and what they need to do to move forward.

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