Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The current party wall legislation in England and Wales came into force on 1 July 1997, under the jurisdiction of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 ('the Act'). All previous local enactments, including the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 (Part VI) and the Bristol Improvement Act 1847, have now been repealed.

The general principle of the Act is to enable an owner to undertake works on, or adjacent to, adjoining properties, in accordance with agreed details, while affording protection to affected neighbours. The Act allows lawful interference with those neighbours' property rights, provided that there is compliance with the mechanisms of the Act, which involves prior notification in writing and the agreement of details. (See Rights conferred by the Act.)

Where disputes arise, either real or implied, the Act provides a compulsory dispute resolution mechanism through the appointment of surveyors (see The role of party wall surveyors). Such a procedure culminates in an award - an agreement between the surveyors that is served on the parties.