Environmental law can be complicated, but experts urge in-house counsel to have at least a basic understanding of its principles. Knowing the fundamentals, and seeking expert advice when necessary, will help companies proactively tackle any environmental problems and ensure they’re writing sound contracts when completing property transactions.

Mark Thimke, a partner at Foley & Lardner and a member of the firm’s Environmental Regulation Practice, says companies shouldn’t assume that they’re complying with environmental law just because there aren’t any blatant, visible problems with a piece of property. For example, only environmental site assessment experts will be able to determine whether a company is violating a complex emissions rule.

Ignoring a piece of property’s possible environmental issues or not attempting to understand them can lead to trouble.

“People throw blanket warranties [into their contracts] and say they are in compliance with the law without understanding whether they really are or not,” Thimke says. “People tend to rely on indemnities or warranties to work out the issue on the back side instead of investigating it upfront.”

–Ashley Post