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Notaire Negligent on Land Searches

A notaire who failed to properly advise buyers on the planning status of land is ordered to pay damages.

By a deed of sale which took place in 2008, a couple completed on the purchase of 700 m2 of land from a developer, for the price of €53,000.

Completion of the sale had not been made conditional on planning permission for the construction of a house being obtained.

Following completion the couple submitted a planning application for a new home, which was refused by the planning authority on the grounds that the land was not zoned for construction.

As a result the developer came to an amicable agreement to terminate the contract and for a full reimbursement of the purchase price.

Subsequently, the purchasers brought a legal action for damages against the notaire, due to their failure to check the planning status of the land and for their failure to ensure that a suitable condition (condition suspensive) was included in the sale and purchase contract concerning planning consent.

Despite the fact that there existed a building on adjoining land the searches obtained by the notaire did not indicate that the plot was zoned for construction.

Under these conditions the notaire failed to fulfil their obligation of information and advice and did not ensure the effectiveness of their actions on the sale of land for construction.

The court of appeal sitting in Colmar came to the view that the notaire could not avoid their own liability on the grounds that the purchaser could claim damages to the seller.

Accordingly, the court ordered to notaire to repay the legal costs of purchase, together with bank charges relating the cancellation of a mortgage, amounting in total to €9,500.

In addition the couple were awarded damages for injury of €5000. Damages arising from the purchase of furniture no longer required was not accepted by the court, as they considered that these purchases had been made prematurely, before planning consent had been obtained.

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This article was featured in our Newsletter dated 04/12/2014

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