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Contaminated land

Last updated: 28 January 2020

This practice note is for all solicitors involved in property transactions.

It aims to help you understand what specialist information and assistance your client may need if contaminated land is an issue.

Legal status

This practice note is our view of good practice in this area. It’s not legal advice.

We issue practice notes for the use and benefit of our members. They’re not intended to be the only standard of good practice that you can follow. You’re not required to follow them but doing so will make it easier to account to oversight bodies for your actions.

Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they are accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.

For queries or comments on this practice note, contact our Practice Advice Service.

SRA Standards and Regulations

On 25 November 2019, the SRA introduced the . These replaced the SRA Handbook (2011).
These materials are regularly being updated so you should check them frequently.

SRA principles

There are seven mandatory principles which apply to all those the SRA regulates and to all aspects of practice.
The SRA Principles comprise the fundamental tenets of ethical behaviour that the SRA expects all those that they regulate to uphold. This includes all individuals they authorise to provide legal services as well as authorised firms and their managers and employees.

For licensed bodies, these apply to individuals, and the part of the body (where applicable), involved in delivering the services the SRA regulates. 


Must - A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule, outcome or other mandatory provision in the SRA Handbook. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA Handbook.

Should - Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society's view. In the case of the SRA Handbook, an indicative behaviour or other non-mandatory provision (such as may be set out in notes or guidance).

These may not be the only means of complying with legislative or regulatory requirements and there may be situations where the suggested route is not the best possible route to meet the needs of your client. However, if you do not follow the suggested route, you should be able to justify to oversight bodies why the alternative approach you have taken is appropriate, either for your practice, or in the particular retainer.

May - A non-exhaustive list of options for meeting your obligations or running your practice. Which option you choose is determined by the profile of the individual practice, client or retainer. You may be required to justify why this was an appropriate option to oversight bodies.

See the SRA’s glossary of terms   

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Practice Advice Service

The Practice Advice Service provides a dedicated support line for Law Society members and employees of law firms. Call us on 020 7320 5675.

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