Surveyors must pay £50,000 for their negligence over knotweed

A man who is almost blind was awarded £50,000 after his North London property became overrun with Japanese knotweed.

Paul Ryb, who represented Great Britain and won the International Blind Tennis tournament, lost his central vision after suffering from a macular disease.

Before purchasing the £1.2m property, on the ground floor of a big Victorian house, the former tennis champion hired Conways Chartered Surveyors to perform a comprehensive survey.

He told the surveyors that he was unable to inspect the property himself because of his failing eyesight. 

Japanese knotweed was ‘visibly present and growing’ at the property. However, Conways told Ryb that there were no problems.

Japanese knotweed is a bamboo-type weed that grows tall and spreads quickly. It is very difficult to remove and can undermine foundations.

Ryb purchased the property and moved in with his family in 2014. The following year he was made aware of the knotweed after a conversation with his gardener.

It cost him £10,000 to excavate the garden but the knotweed returned in 2017 and 2018. Ryb had to take out insurance to cover the cost.

He sued the surveyors for professional negligence.

The County Court heard that Conways had described the property as being in “excellent condition internally and externally”.

The judge described the surveyor as “old school” and said: “He had taken no photographs. He had drawn no plans. He had taken no measurements. This job gave rise to no special features that singled it out in his memory.”

Ryb was awarded £50,000 damages.

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