Just over a decade ago, law reform initiatives across Canada introduced the "polluter pays" principle into Canadian environmental legislation and established new regimes for assigning liability and responsibility for the remediation of contaminated property. As a result, a much broader net of potential liability for contaminated sites was cast throughout Canada, and the days when one could limit liability for contaminated property by selling it on the basis of the 'buyer beware" principle has all but ended. As a result of this legislative reform, provincial regulators now have increased regulatory powers and tools to require the clean up of contaminated property and new, private statutory causes of action have been created, providing individuals and corporations with new ways of recovering environmental damages in addition to traditional property damage and tort claims.
Fasken Martineau's environmental group has extensive experience assisting clients to negotiate and deal effectively with governmental authorities in the provinces and territories in relation to remediation requirements, in acting both for claimants and defendants in private disputes concerning contaminated sites, and in assisting clients to understand, manage and minimize potential liabilities arising from contaminated property with a view to avoiding the eruption of legal disputes. A significant part of our practice involves advising property owners, developers, property managers, architects and other consultants in relation to the remediation and development of contaminated lands and "Brownfield developments".
Recent experience is as follows:
Advised property owners of implications of migrating contaminants from neighbouring properties
Assisted clients in the remediation of contaminated property and in obtaining Certificate of Compliance and other regulatory approvals
Challenged remediation and pollution abatement orders issued by environmental authorities
Negotiated, mediated and litigated (at every level of court) civil disputes relating to contaminated site liability and allocation of liability on behalf of both claimants and defendants