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Climate clauses to support conveyancers with ‘duty of care’

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(5 December 2022)

An environmental analytics business has produced climate clauses for conveyancers to paste into documents such as title reports amid concern over lender requirements on climate change.

Groundsure announced that it has launched a ‘microsite’ for conveyancers which explains client obligations on climate change risks in light of legal opinions given by Professor Sara De Gay and Stephen Tromans KC, as well as clauses that property lawyers can insert into their client care summaries and reports on title to lenders in commercial and residential transactions.

Dan Montagnani, CEO of Groundsure, said: ‘When it comes to climate change, there is some concern about what conveyancers can do to meet the growing body of opinion that supports a duty of care to advise clients on climate risk. The microsite should help solicitors understand exactly what those legal obligations are. We also outline how using a forward-looking environmental search that automatically includes climate data can assist firms in meeting their ESG objectives.’

Groundsure told the Gazette that the clauses are free and have been reviewed by legal professionals, including practising environmental lawyers, conveyancers and commercial real estate fee-earners. The clauses are currently being peer-reviewed by The Chancery Lane Project.

Asked if conveyancers can be confident about using the clauses in documents, Groundsure said its environmental searches are backed by its £10m PI cover ‘and the same reliance that conveyancers access applies equally to the climate data we provide’.

The clauses ‘provide a clear, concise format to insert into documents that signpost the information from the ClimateIndex analysis outcomes. They also allow firms to clearly identify what they are and what they are not commenting on’, Groundsure said.

The clauses come after conveyancers reacted angrily to suggestions that they are increasingly being seen as mortgage lenders’ in-house legal teams.

Charles Roe, director of mortgages at UK Finance, discussed at the Law Society’s flagship property law conference the need for conveyancers to explain climate change risks. However, an attended said lenders’ requirements in respect of climate change should be directed towards the valuers and surveyors.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)