Do you have reliance on that report? 

28th July 2022

Industry matters

It might seem like an insignificant detail to someone outside of the industry, but the name on a report can have a big impact. Even though it doesn’t change the content, the science, or the data that can be found within, there can be complications and legal ramifications if the wrong name appears on the front. Fran explains why.

We have all seen it. You are buying a site and it comes with contaminated land and geotechnical reports. The reports give the site a clean bill of health, give you the design info required to get through planning.  

But…do you check whether you obtain reliance on the information within reports when you purchase site?  

The reports are made out to a beneficiary other than you….so what? 

Councils and contaminated land/Geotech professionals are getting hotter on this topic so please see below the watch point.  

What you don’t want to happen is the following: 

You buy the site with the reports. They have all the necessary info for planning and you submit an application to discharge. On review the following comment is received “these reports are for ….. Homes, but the application is under ……. Homes. Please can you forward proof you can rely on the contents of these reports? 

Uh oh. You don’t have anything….. 

The application is rejected because you cannot legally rely on the information in the reports, and therefore the regulator cannot rely on it.  

The above may sound rare, but it has happened and will happen more in the future.  

There have been cases where client reports have remained unpaid, do not legally own or have reliance issues being submitted and consultants writing to officers to highlight the problem, and the documents being withdrawn from planning.  

The reports we produce are for the beneficiary of the named person on the front cover and no-one else unless we produce a letter of reliance saying so. These are very simple to produce, you just need to contact the people who produced the report originally.  

This will have a cost. The AGS in a Loss Prevention Alert highlighted that this might be up to the value of the total cost of the report to produce, but surely knowing you can legally rely on the in-ground recommendations is better than not. And most consultants do charge significantly less.  

As an alternative, you may want to consider just doing the reports yourself with companies you trust to do it correctly. After all, the report may not be right in the first place.  

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