REALWorld Law

Sale and purchase

Environmental liability

Is the buyer of a real estate asset in this country responsible for soil pollution or contamination of the building even if it did not cause the pollution or contamination?



Under German statutory law:

  • the current owner;
  • the current user;
  • the originator and its legal successors; and
  • the former owners in certain circumstances

can all be required to carry out decontamination by order of the relevant authorities (what is known as the principle of efficiency of risk prevention).

However, the party taking the remedial measures can then make a claim against the party who actually caused the problem, unless the possibility of such a claim was expressly excluded in the sale and purchase agreement.