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  6. Should I consider contamination in all conveyancing transactions?

Should I consider contamination in all conveyancing transactions?

I am a trainee solicitor in a conveyancing department. I have been asked to research where to obtain a copy of the contaminated land warning card and whether we should consider contamination in all conveyancing transactions. Is there any guidance?

The Law Society’s contaminated land warning card is now obsolete and has been superseded by the Law Society’s practice note on contaminated land.

You must consider land contamination in all conveyancing transactions.

In all purchases, leases or mortgages, you should - unless your buyer, tenant or lender client instructs you otherwise - undertake a CON 29 and LLC1 search to ascertain whether the land has been designated by the local authority as contaminated.

Enquiry 3.13 on CON 29 may reveal:

  • contaminated land notices affecting the property
  • entries on a register maintained under section 78R of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and
  • any consultation with the owner and occupier of the property under section 78G(3) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 before the service of a remediation notice.

If the land has been designated as contaminated, you should make further enquiries of the seller, landlord or borrower and take instructions from your client as to any further investigations that may need to be made.

A negative reply with the local authority to question 3.13 on CON 29 can mean one of several things:

  • there is no contamination
  • the site has not been inspected
  • the level of pollution is not high enough to meet Part 2A definitions, or
  • no conclusion about the site has yet been reached, even if a site inspection has finished.

You may need to make more specific enquiries to ascertain the true nature of contamination of a site.

If it appears that contamination is an issue and you are acting for a buyer, tenant and/or lender, please see the Law Society's practice note on contaminated land for further guidance.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

Have you got a practice question? Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email practiceadvice@lawsociety.org.uk

The Practice Advice Service is staffed Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

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