The question often arises - why should you ‘jointly instruct’ a property valuer as an expert witness, rather than instruct independently?
Did you know that 92% of all valuation instructions received by Acumentis from family lawyers/solicitors and legal professionals over the last 12 months were jointly instructed?
In contrast a similar sample of data was reviewed from ten years ago (2013), and at the time only 64% were jointly instructed - the balance being individually ordered. So why the continued shift from individually ordering valuations to joint instructions? Based on my personal experiences and feedback from clients, I understand legal practitioner have moved towards a joint appointment of one single expert for several reasons including:
1. Neutrality and Impartiality:
Jointly appointing a valuer helps ensure neutrality and impartiality in the valuation process. By selecting a valuer together, both parties can have confidence that the expert is not aligned with either side. This fosters trust in the valuer's findings and conclusions, as they are perceived to be objective and unbiased.
2. Cost Efficiency:
Appointing a single valuer as an expert witness can be more cost-effective than each party hiring their own separate valuer. Sharing the cost of the valuer's fees reduces the financial burden on both parties while still maintaining a high level of expertise and professionalism in the appraisal process.
3. Consistency and Streamlined Proceedings:
By jointly appointing a valuer, the parties can ensure consistency in the appraisal methodology and approach. This helps streamline the proceedings by avoiding conflicts or disputes arising from different valuations provided by separate experts. A single expert witness can provide a unified appraisal report that both parties can rely on, potentially saving time and effort in the legal process.
4. Facilitating Settlement Discussions:
Jointly appointing a valuer can promote a cooperative atmosphere and facilitate settlement discussions between the parties. Since the valuer is considered independent and neutral, their findings and recommendations may carry more weight in negotiations. This can help the parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution without the need for protracted litigation.
5. Court's Perspective:
Jointly appointing a valuer may also be viewed favourably by the court. It demonstrates the parties' willingness to work together in a collaborative manner, which can contribute to a more efficient and amicable resolution. The court may appreciate the efforts made by the parties to find common ground and rely on a shared expert to provide an objective assessment
In summary, it would appear that a joint instruction, removes any perceived biases/conflicts, save the client money and shows the mediator or judge that both parties are willing to work together in a collaborative manner, despite differences.
From a valuers perspective, we support the idea of a joint instruction as we are generally reluctant to have to challenge our peers in a court setting over differences in value opinions. Its not that we don’t mind a show down of intellects, rather, market values are in essence a reflection of ‘opinion’ based on our experience and interpretation of sales evidence and market conditions and therefore market values/valuation is not an ‘exact science’.
It is not uncommon for different valuers to have different opinions on the same property and by appointing only one expert, it is less likely that additional time and money is spent getting to common ground between the two values.
Does this mean that both parties will agree with the one assessment/opinion provided under a joint instruction, unfortunately, usually not, it is generally very hard to please all parties. We tend to have one party wanting a low valuation and one party wanting a high valuation depending on who is being dispossessed and or each of the party’s motives. We understand that our role is not to make friends rather be professional, polite and remain an independent expert.
Further to being jointly instructed we are often asked if both parties can attend the inspection at the same time? Assuming all parties are able to act civilised, we think it can be very beneficial. We understand that one or both parties may want to convey specific information to the valuer to ensure it is considered during the assessment. This is understandable and can generally be accommodated.
Assuming both parties agree to appoint one valuer we recommend you consider the following due diligence when picking the correct valuer for the job:
1. Qualifications and Credentials:
Look into the valuer's qualifications, certifications, and professional affiliations. A qualified and experienced valuer with a strong reputation in the industry is more likely to uphold professional standards and ethics. We suggest a CPV valuer with no less than 5 years’ experience in the suburb of the subject property.
2. Past Experience and Track Record:
Research the valuer's previous work and reviews from clients or peers. A valuer with a history of objective and unbiased appraisals is more likely to maintain independence in their current assignment.
3. Disclosures and Conflict of Interest:
Valuers appointed should disclose any potential conflicts of interest that may compromise their independence. They should provide information about any past or ongoing relationships with the parties involved in the case, including personal or financial connections.
4. Impartiality in Process:
The valuer should follow a transparent and impartial process in conducting the valuation. This includes considering all relevant evidence, conducting thorough research, and utilising recognized methodologies as directed by the API. Their findings and conclusions should be supported by clear and objective reasoning.
5. Professional Code of Ethics:
Determine if the valuer adheres to a recognised code of ethics, such as those established by the API. These codes typically require valuers to maintain objectivity, independence, and confidentiality in their work.
Further to this advice, the specialised team at Acumentis are ready and waiting to assist with any family law property valuation matters. Find your local property expert below.