How to avoid legal action
By Jennifer Holmes

How to avoid legal action

The 3 things commercial businesses should do to avoid legal action of Japanese knotweed?

What happens if, as a commercial business you suspect (or know) you have knotweed but decide to ignore it? In this article we explain the pitfalls and perils of doing just that, and the help that is available should you fall into the jaws of the law.

Japanese knotweed is a non-native species that is governed by UK legislation, and as many commercial entities have discovered over time, failure to adhere to legislation has dire business and financial consequences.

Whilst it is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed on your land or property, if found on your land you must control it. Disposal of knotweed waste also comes under UK legislation meaning you may also be at risk of prosecution if found guilty of disposing of it in the wild.

Government guidelines state:

“You must dispose of Japanese knotweed waste off-site by transferring it to a disposal facility that’s permitted, e.g. a landfill site that has the right environmental permit.”

“You must prevent Japanese knotweed on your land from spreading into the wild and causing a nuisance. You could be fined up to £5,000 or be sent to prison for up to 2 years if you allow contaminated soil or plant material from any waste you transfer to spread into the wild.”

The 3 things you can do

As knotweed specialists, we know how important it is to be able to provide our clients with the best advice for limiting the damage that knotweed can do to your business. Here are three things you should do:

  1. Have a professional pre-purchase survey. This will determine whether above ground plants are knotweed or a harmless lookalike, or whether knotweed is underground. If correctly identified, and knotweed remedial work is required, this can sometimes be factored into the purchase price and project management plan.
  2. Claim for professional negligence. If you have purchased property or land, paid for a survey but the surveyor failed to pick up the presence of knotweed, you may be able to claim against the surveyor for professional negligence.
  3. Do not ignore knotweed. When developing a site affected by Japanese knotweed, ensure you carry out the necessary due diligence. If you can prove that you have a management plan in place, or that it has been completely removed you can avoid risk of legal action for professional negligence as failure to do so can result in knotweed regrowth during construction or after, when it appears on new build properties which will then cost the homeowner to get it treated or removed.

Seek professional advice

We can put you in touch with our recommended commercial solicitors Hagen Wolf who can provide the legal advice you need, such as how to submit a claim for professional negligence, or advice on any legal action taken against you.

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