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Couple's 5-year nightmare at an end

PUBLISHED: 14:39 12 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:10 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK couple is today celebrating after they were given an out of court settlement running in to tens of thousands of pounds to end their five-year battle which saw their home deteriorate before their eyes.

A SUFFOLK couple is today celebrating after they were given an out of court settlement running in to tens of thousands of pounds to end their five-year battle which saw their home deteriorate before their eyes.

Bob Crabtree and his wife Beryl were due to go to court in Colchester this week in a fight to try to prove negligence against the surveyors they used when they bought their dream home in Brantham back in November 1996. However at the last moment the surveyor's insurers offered an out of court settlement the Crabtree's accepted.

Mr Crabtree said that at last he feels vindicated in spending so much time and money on the case.

Although Mr Crabtree said he could not disclose the exact amount of the settlement it is believed it is a substantial five-figure sum.

"There was no need for this to have gone on for five years," he said. "We were ready to go to court and my wife who is not well was going to be a witness. It was settled at the last moment. It was only when we started investigating it that we realised it (the house survey) was not carried out by the bank but a firm they had commissioned to do it." said Mr Crabtree.

"We are very pleased with the amount we have received but I know we could never buy a house in England again," he added.

Rogers and Grundy Chartered Surveyors, based in Colchester, carried out the survey and in a statement said they denied any liability and disagreed with the out of court settlement the Crabtree's received.

"This case has not been proven in court and no court judgement has been made against us. An out of court settlement has been made by our insurers but we do not agree with this settlement. We do not consider ourselves to be liable," said Peter Rogers of Grundy and Rogers.

The Crabtree's troubles began when a survey they initially believed had been carried out by Abbey National turned out to have been done by Roger and Grundy.

The Crabtree's claimed in the court proceedings that the surveyor had picked up none of the problems the house suffered from and it was only when a roofer was called to mend a leaky window that the extent of the problems was found. They also discovered the survey was not carried out by Abbey National but the independent surveyor on their "approved panel."

Their fight even led Mr Crabtree to attend the bank's annual general meeting back in April 2000 and voice his anger. The bank has always denied that is has ever misrepresented its customers and were not involved in the court case.

But as they waited on a knife-edge for their day in court to arrive the couple received the call they had been waiting for. The surveyor's insurers were going to settle out of court. Although this means they will never have to admit liability Mr Crabtree believes he and his wife have at last been vindicated in their fight to prove the truth.

The couple have now contacted estate agents to value their home and get it on the market. They will then be looking at properties in Spain.

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