HC Deb 12 May 1884 vol 288 cc18-9

asked the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works, Whether the district surveyors employed by them, in taking proceedings for in- fractions of the Building Acts, do so at their own risk, and, if unsuccessful are personally liable for the costs incurred; whether, in cases where they have been successful, district surveyors have been compelled to sue defendants for costs out of pocket to a considerable amount; and, whether the Metropolitan Board will take such steps as may prevent district surveyors being thus deterred from bringing to light infringements of the Acts?


In answer to the Question of my hon. Friend, I may state that, although the District Surveyors are appointed by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the purpose of enforcing the regulations of the Building Acts as to the structure of houses and buildings in the Metropolis, they exercise statutory authority, and take proceedings in the Courts of Law in their own names and upon their own authority, and they incur the same risk as other suitors, and are liable to pay costs in those instances where the magistrates may consider that the proceedings have not been justified; but, on the other hand, the District Surveyors are entitled to considerable fees for the discharge of their ordinary duties. Where the District Surveyors are successful in obtaining convictions, but the defendant is unable or unwilling to pay the costs awarded, they have to pursue the ordinary remedies to recover payment. I may add that, in certain cases, where questions of difficulty have arisen before the magistrates as to the proper interpretation of the Building Acts, the Board has been in the habit of taking a case for the opinion of the High Court, in order that a decision may be obtained as to the construction of the Acts. In these cases the Board has been accustomed to pay the costs incurred in the name of the District Surveyors for the purpose of obtaining a judicial decision.