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The cost of undisclosed planning and development

18th April 2016

The risks of undisclosed local planning and development in conveyancing transactions hit the headlines in 2015 with a number of high profile stories in mainstream media.

  • Thorp v Abbotts
  • Orientfield Holdings Ltd v Bird & Bird LLP
  • The case of the couple from Cumbria who successfully won compensation against their solicitor after a wind turbine was built less than a mile from their property

On the one hand it is quite right to point out that 3 examples amongst the significant number of transactions undertaken does not point to any trend or indeed pose much of a risk to your PI insurer.

That said aside from the eye-watering compensation figures, where there are cases there is a risk of longer term effects on your business. You will have almost certainly lost the trust of a client who may have had a “lifetime value” to your business; there is a reputational impact to consider locally which has a knock-on effect to other departments within the firm; your PI insurer will not take kindly to the claim and your premium will be significantly affected.

Providing information about planning is a very low risk affair. Ultimately as the reports that provide you and your clients with the relevant information are disbursements there is no direct impact on your firm and you should increasingly be flagging such examples to clients and encouraging such investigations.

Indeed what is to stop you from making it a premium service and charging for it? Rightly or wrongly there seems to be an expectation amongst homebuyers that solicitors investigate these issues as a matter of course; be proactive and talk to your clients, educate them on the risks and opportunities and give them the tools to make an informed decision.

ETSOS provides both data and interpretive planning reports. The Landmark Plansearch Plus and DevAssist with Plansearch Plus will provide you and your client with the relevant information to make an informed decision about whether local planning and development will have any impact on the property. Protect your firm today.

 

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