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ICE fears over landmark personal liability ruling

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THE ICE is examining the consequences for engineers after a landmark legal judgement by the Court of Appeal ruled that a surveyor could be personally liable for work done as an employee.

Chartered surveyor John Babb faces a bill of around £40,000 after he was sued by a house owner over a mortgage valuation he gave in 1992 for his Plymouth based employer Clive Walker Associates. The firm went bust in 1994.

Babb's legal battle was supported by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. An appeal to the House of Lords was refused.

ICE technical director Drick Vernon said the ICE legal advisory panel is now studying the implications of the ruling.

He added: 'It is potentially a very serious situation. For individual employees to have to take out their own professional indemnity insurance would be mindblowing.'

Babb's solicitor Peter Maguire of law firm CMS Cameron McKenna confirmed that the ruling also affected engineers: 'If an individual gives specialist advice on behalf of an employer and a client or third party reasonably relies on it, then potentially there is a liability.'

He added that the liablility could even extend to people who had never met or dealt with clients.

Babb had no direct dealings with the client nor was his name on the survey reports.

Engineers would be most at risk of being sued if there were doubts about their employer's cover or financial stability, Maguire added.

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