Risk to solicitors

Over 20% of all legal complaints are directed at the conveyancing sector, most of which are planning-related, and this statistic is on the rise. In the legal profession, conveyancing solicitors are the most likely to face a negligence claim.


Location is the most important factor when determining property value and one in three of our reports will identify a high-risk development site in close proximity.

If you are using standard searches in your conveyancing services, you are only accessing a fraction of the information available to you.

Unfortunately, in standard conveyancing packages, property locations are not analysed in-depth for the risk of development nearby, and any development change could impact the appeal and value of a property.

If proposed or planned development impacts a property’s value but is only discovered after the completion of a sale, you are at risk of a negligence claim.


In 2015, the High Court ruled that Bird & Bird were negligent, having not supplied their client with the results of a search report that detailed multiple planning applications within 300m of their subject property.

This landmark case highlighted the responsibility of solicitors to ensure their clients are fully informed about local planning data. If you order a search or planning report, even if not instructed to do so, you have a duty to ensure your client receives this information before purchase.

Bird & Bird loses negligence appeal over £26m property.

Common grounds for a negligence claim to be raised include:

  • Loss caused to the client due to poor advice about the property
  • A failure to conduct appropriate property enquiries and searches
  • A failure to provide sufficient advice regarding a property survey

The wording is ambiguous, but the message is clear: did you access all the insight you could about a location prior to your client purchasing the property?

This threat isn’t just to your Professional Indemnity. These claims are extremely damaging to your reputation and mental health, especially when you take into account that claims against a conveyancing solicitor can be raised up to six years after the alleged negligence.

Avoid negligence claims

You are not just at risk from the buyer either.

If a mortgage lender incurs a loss as a result of issues with a property that weren’t identified prior to purchase, you could also face a negligence claim from the lender, as well as your client.

Development Risk Near Me


When you commission a DevAssist report, all liability for the interpretation of planning data lies with us.

Using DevAssist is the only way to get a complete picture of the development risk in a location or neighbourhood and the only way to ensure your client has all the facts before completing their purchase.

Our reports go much further than your standard searches and reports. We are the only company in the country that investigates locations for imminent and potential development change.

We investigate and audit a location to give buyers a true understanding of the current and future risks of development that could impact the desirability and value of the property they are buying.

With our expertise in analysing planning data, Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments, National Policy and much more, we are a critical element of your service offer.


  • Elevates your service offer;
  • Differentiates your firm from your competitors;
  • Ensures your client has access to the most comprehensive property reports on the market;
  • Reduces the risk of a negligence claim being raised against you.

Should a claim against your Professional Indemnity ever arise, our reports are hugely beneficial in demonstrating that you left no stone unturned in your services and that your client received all the insight and information available to them prior to purchase.

“95% of your client base is concerned about development risks.”

Institute of Economic Affairs

“These reports are a game-changing addition to assess development potential. We act for many private banks, and after hearing our testimonial on the information provided by DevAssist, they now correctly insist that we include the reports as a standard requirement.”

Harbottle & Lewis Solicitors
Caroline Roberjot

Partner for and on behalf of Harbottle & Lewis


Property development, whether it’s on a large scale, such as a housing development or on a domestic scale, such as a neighbour’s extension, is happening all around us and in more and more unexpected places.

Planned and current development changes commonly exposed with DevAssist Reports

  • Greenbelt, farmland and community parkland development
  • Hostile, largescale planning applications in councils not meeting the housing supply policy.
  • Change of use developments
  • Road and access development affecting traffic volume, noise and long periods of roadworks
  • Neighbours’ extensions and building works which will impact a property’s light and views



Book a training session for you and your team with our Principal, Paul Addison. Paul has over 35 years of frontline land and planning experience and offers a free 1-hour session which covers:

  • The risks conveyancing solicitors face;
  • How to reduce these risks;
  • How our reports work for you and your clients.

These sessions can be held in person or online.


We have created a client care document outlining advice to clients relating to development risk and how your firm utilises DevAssist to expose unknown development risks.