Contaminated land: guidance for lawyers

There are a number of development sites in East Devon that are, or may be, on contaminated land.

For anyone considering buying a home on land that may be contaminated, this is the new guidance for lawyers and conveyancers about what they must endeavour to find out and what perhaps the Development Management Committee should be aware of when dealing with such land.

Suggest that your client considers obtaining an independent valuation of the property. A reduction in the market value of the property as a result of contamination may lead to the buyer requiring a price reduction. It may also lead to a lender withdrawing from, or imposing additional conditions in, their offer.”

“Consider and advise your client of the use and effect of appropriate contractual protections. For example, by including exclusion and indemnity clauses and apportionments, warranties, or by making the contract conditional upon the seller complying with any remediation notices, to the buyer’s reasonable satisfaction, prior to completion.

Consider and advise your client of the appropriateness of obtaining an environmental insurance policy. Such policies are widely available to cover the costs of remediation of both undetected and disclosed contamination and related liabilities. However, such policies may contain limitations on what and who they cover. The amount of any premium, the level of excesses and the imposition of certain conditions are important factors to be considered in selecting a policy.”