Environmental Indemnity in Real Estate Transactions: Allocating Risks of Potential Liability and Cleanup Costs

Negotiating Key Provisions, Drafting and Reviewing the Agreement to Ensure Complete Coverage

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will guide counsel for buyers, sellers, and lenders in real estate transactions on allocation of environmental liability and structuring environmental indemnity agreements to ensure proper coverage for liabilities. The panel will examine key provisions and lessons from historical precedent and recent court decisions.


The risk allocation of environmental liabilities in real estate transactions is often essential to the terms of the deal. Whether a buyer or a seller, a number of key issues have to be considered when negotiating risk allocation, liability release, and indemnity issues. Even though indemnity provisions are some of the most common tools for the allocation of risk, they also may present many unforeseen pitfalls.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in VFC Partners 26 v. Cadlerocks Centennial Drive is an example of a line of decisions demonstrating that the specific language in environmental indemnity agreements is critical in real estate transactions.

Under that series of rulings, the specific language of the environmental indemnity provision--and not general concepts of indemnity--controls and determines whether particular costs or damages will be subject to indemnity.

Counsel to buyers, sellers, and lenders in real estate and other commercial transactions must carefully consider negotiation strategy options and know how to memorialize indemnity provisions to ensure coverage for potential environmental liabilities and cleanup costs (in some cases to exclude coverage).

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses environmental release and indemnity agreements in transactions, including how the courts are treating these agreements and will examine the key provisions to address. The panel will offer best practices for negotiating and structuring the contract and how to anticipate the potential for litigation post-closing due to challenges to indemnity claims.



  1. Environmental indemnity agreements and court treatment
  2. Key provisions
  3. Negotiating and structuring the agreement


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • When is an environmental indemnity agreement necessary and when is it not useful?
  • First party release vs. third-party indemnification.
  • What are the key provisions of the environmental indemnity agreement?
  • How do environmental indemnity provisions complement other provisions in real estate purchase and sale agreements?
  • What are the critical lessons from recent court decisions for structuring environmental indemnity agreements?
  • What are the best practices for allocating environmental risks in real property transactions?


Curran, John-Patrick
John-Patrick Curran

Sive Paget & Riesel

Mr. Curran’s practice focuses on environmental and construction law, representing residential, commercial and...  |  Read More

Jessen, Polly
Polly B. Jessen

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell

Ms. Jessen’s practice focuses on the range of contaminated property redevelopment issues, including environmental...  |  Read More

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