Change is coming on climate risk due diligence for property conveyancers

GroundsureBy Legal Futures Associate Groundsure

“Do solicitors have a legal duty of care to advise their clients on climate-related risks?”  This is the question that Stephen Tromans QC, one of the pre-eminent environmental law barristers in the world, will pose at The Conveyancing Climate Change Conference on 14 June in the Law Society Common Room.

Hosted by Groundsure, this inaugural event will convene residential and commercial lawyers, lenders, valuers and policy makers together to understand the future implications of climate risks on property transactions. 

Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) is now a growing area of concern for partners and fee earners.  It’s not just about how you operate ethically either – in terms of their footprint and who they give advice to (that is, whether you are planet-friendly). It’s also about how you advise clients on the impact of climate change.

The Law Society Resolution released last October made it clear that firms should ensure they have access to information and data that enables better client care where climate change could impact – and this will be most keenly felt with residential and commercial property transactions. 

At the same time, lenders now position climate change as a tier 1 risk and are actively reviewing portfolios and are already assessing forward impacts on commercial property transactions. The mood music is strongly in favour of residential property gaining the same scrutiny both in terms of physical and transitional risks, as part of their own regulatory compliance. 

Practice leaders, fee earners and heads of department need to get themselves “compliance ready” for significant future changes in requirements from lenders.  They need to  understand the risks and liabilities from failing to advise on climate change. 

The geo-environmental risks that are most sensitive to climate change – flooding, subsidence, coastal erosion – now merit far greater consideration from the legal profession. They are increasing significantly in frequency and magnitude and ongoing engagement with lenders on security for the lifetime of the loan and potential resale will become a key compliance focus. 

There will be forthcoming guidance to consider, too.  What data will enable residential conveyancing and commercial real estate teams to ensure better compliance?  What tools will help conveyancers ensure better compliance?  What data will property lawyers need to de-risk their PI?  Or improve their client care?   

This  major new climate change summit for the property conveyancers will be held at the Law Society Common Room on Chancery Lane on 14th June from 09.00 – 14:00hrs, with registration and pastries from 0830.  

The keynote speech, Reporting from the Climate Front Line, will be given by Roger Harrabin, the energy and environment analyst from BBC News, who will give his take on how climate change is adapting our world view and consider the UK’s policy response to climate change – and ask if it’s fit for purpose.

Tyrone Dunbar, Manager of Urban Climate Services at the Met Office will offer his view of what our climate could look like in the future and the expected effects on our communities, infrastructure and daily lives.  

Matthew Jupp, mortgage policy principal at UK Finance will discuss how regulatory compliance is shaping its members’ response and consider what lenders want property lawyers to do about climate risk.  Ben Elder, international head of valuations at RICS will provide a property valuer’s perspective.

Seb Charles, Chairman of the Law Society’s Environmental Law & Planning Committee will provide an outline on the key considerations that the Society is making with regard to future guidance to conveyancers – while environmental lawyer Stephen Sykes will explain the salient data, risks and liabilities from an insurance perspective. 

Stephen Tromans QC,will clarify solicitors’ professional liability risks and their responsibilities to alert clients as to the geo-environmental impacts of climate change.  He will be providing a detailed opinion of which the entire profession should sit up and take note. 

There will also be a Q&A session engaging with the audience on the key themes and implications.  

Registration is open and tickets are free and includes lunch and networking. For more details and to book, click here


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