The contaminated land regime in England and Wales and the corporatisation of environmental lawyers

Steven Vaughan, Robert G. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Prior to the introduction of a contaminated land regime in England and Wales, the role of the environmental lawyer was limited and focussed on regulatory compliance issues. Even in a transactional setting, this tended to confine the role to one of environmental due diligence. The regime has allowed the 'corporatisation' of environmental lawyers bringing them into the heart of transactions where they design and draft risk transfer mechanisms. Environmental lawyers have had to cultivate an 'internal client base' to sell these services first and foremost to colleagues specialising in corporate and real estate matters. They have done so in spite of the fact that the contaminated land regime has not been actively enforced by regulators. Based on interviews with top environmental lawyers in the UK, and employing suggested roles for transactional lawyers taken from the socio-legal literature, this paper reviews the role of environmental lawyers. It suggests that they have adopted reforms in the area of land remediation as a springboard to a more central role in corporate transactions. This involves a shift from merely facilitating the completion of deals to the development of a wider role, which involves the design and structure of transactions to accommodate environmental regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-58
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of the Legal Profession
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


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