Fast-Tracking Easement Acquisition: Advice for Utility Companies

15th Apr 2024

Fast-Tracking Easement Acquisition: Advice for Utility Companies

When it comes to property development or usage, understanding and securing the right easements is crucial. A deed of easement is a legally binding document that grants one party use of another’s property for a specified purpose. Whether it’s for laying utilities like gas, water, or electricity, or for providing right of way access, easements are essential.

In the process of securing a deed of easement, particularly when it involves utility infrastructures like gas pipelines, negotiations over indemnity clauses can become particularly contentious. Indemnity clauses are designed to protect against losses and damages that arise in the course of exercising the rights granted by the easement. However, the extent and nature of these protections can lead to firm stances from both parties, reflecting their interests and legal advice.

A recent negotiation involving a regional gas transporter highlights the typical challenges and complexities involved in these discussions. In the negotiation over the deed of easement, the landowner’s solicitor challenged the conditional nature of the indemnity clause that was designed to protect the landowner from damages arising from the regional gas transporter’s operations. They argued for an absolute indemnity that would not only cover all damages directly but also compel the gas transporter to handle all associated mitigation costs, effectively reducing the financial risk to the landowner (to zero) in scenarios of possible negligence or infrastructure failure.

On the other hand, the regional gas transporter’s solicitor advocates for keeping the indemnity conditional, emphasising the need for the indemnity to cover only reasonably foreseeable damages and limiting the obligation to mitigate losses to “all reasonable endeavours.” This approach aims to balance the responsibilities, ensuring the gas transporter is not unfairly burdened with open-ended liabilities that could arise from uncontrollable or unforeseen circumstances affecting the pipeline.

Utility companies have to balance their operational risks with legal liabilities. It reflects an understanding that while they are willing to take responsibility for their infrastructure, they also require protections that prevent them from being liable for uncontrollable or unforeseen circumstances.

At McHale & Co, we specialise in navigating the complexities of deeds of easement,  through a pragmatic and expedient approach. We don’t always hit difficult negotiations but when they do arise our goal is to overcome hurdles efficiently while ensuring that our clients’ interests are securely protected. Our team understands the importance of flexibility in legal negotiations. By tailoring terms that allow for some leeway, we strive to prevent negotiations from stalling and facilitate the reaching of agreements that are equitable to all parties involved.

By choosing McHale & Co, utility companies benefit from our strategic legal advice tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. Our approach not only speeds up the negotiation process but also minimises the risks associated with easements, ultimately protecting your operational and financial interests.

Feel confident in partnering with us for comprehensive legal support that addresses the practical and intricate aspects of obtaining deeds of easement. We’ll guide you through this process smoothly, ensuring your interests are well protected.

Phillippa Holcroft
Phillippa Holcroft
DDI: 0161 929 3088

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