The question of duties of an independent expert in rent review proceedings was at issue in the case of Curry's group plc v Martin, 8 where an independent expert was hired to determine rent review on the lease of two units in a shopping center. The dispute arose in the differing perception of the two parties on what constituted the open market value of the properties. The landlord maintained that this provision required an assessment of headline rent that would be achieved in the open market. The tenant, on the hand, contended that rent payable in the open market was to be assessed on the basis that no inducements are offered.
The independent expert was accused of eschewing his duties to the parties by offering an opinion that on the basis of the existing current law, a headline rent would prevail. This case was not successful since the Court held that the expert had provided a valid assessment and did not owe any overriding duties to the parties; he owed only the same duties as any other valuer.
there exists a clear provision in the CPR that the overriding duty of the experts is to the Courts, which is more important than “ any obligation to the person from whom he has received instructions or by whom he is paid. ” 9 In his determination of the rent, the tenants claimed their interests were compromised, which position was not upheld in the instant case. However, in other cases, where there is provision for rent review but not at the option of the tenant, the Court has filled the void when landlord does not cooperate in the review process. 10 But where such right to review is conferred upon the landlord without obligation, such a review will not be held to be exercisable by both parties11.
The Court’ s conclusions in this aspect are significant because it reveals the trend to set aside old existing notions, such as the strict adherence to determining the will of the contracting parties in arriving at its decisions and the viewing of the contract as being in the nature of an enforceable promise between the parties.
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