Organisations need to have a clear approach to ESG and understand how to adapt their strategies and change programmes to address increasingly complex legal obligations. ESG is developing quickly in terms of law and regulation not least as the related sector and issue-specific guidance, schemes and frameworks apply different metrics and disclosure requirements.
"Around our international network, our lawyers advise across the extensive range of legal services that ESG touches. For us, ESG is a thread running through many of the legal services we provide, which, together with our sector understanding and our insight into the issues driving transformation in our clients’ businesses, places us in a unique position to offer this 3D approach to our services"
Responsive and strategic advice
We know that not one size fits all. Osborne Clarke's multi-disciplinary ESG team brings together experts specialising in the environment and decarbonisation, sustainable finance, social and human capital and corporate governance to lead clients through the development and implementation of a successful ESG strategy.
The shift to low-carbon business models requires a radical rethink of business operations, supply chains and financing. Our environment and commercial teams help build sustainable businesses by providing support through the implementation of compliance measures. Our advice covers all advisory, contentious and transactional aspects of environmental law and regulation as it applies to different sectors.
Organisations need to take into account how employees and communities are affected by their business and supply chains. Developing robust systems and policies can help minimise harms and promote positive results in areas such as pay, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing. Our employment law and regulatory experts provide pragmatic advice, incident management guidance and support on social impact.
Governance ensures accountability within an organisation and there are a plethora of regulatory requirements when addressing the complexities of ESG reporting. Our corporate and regulatory teams support clients as they navigate their corporate governance requirements, reporting obligations and stakeholder disputes. We provide advice and training on directors’ duties and liabilities to organisations across all industries.
Our ESG team works with businesses across Europe, Asia and the US. We have a local and international understanding of the regulatory and policy drivers for ESG and significant expertise across the broader areas ESG touches upon, such as environmental impact, diversity and inclusion and strategic risk mitigation.
"As a firm we take our own ESG strategy very seriously, encouraging diversity, creating a sustainable business and investing in the wellbeing of our own people and the communities and environments we work in. We look forward as much as we can on our clients' behalf, anticipating the complex challenges that ESG will bring in the near and longer term and use our own experiences to guide the services we provide."
Environment and decarbonisation
How we produce, consume and discard has a significant adverse impact on the natural world. Climate change brings the shift to low carbon business models which will often mean a radical rethink of business along the entire supply chain, from direct initial use of carbon in the business all the way through to indirect emissions.
- How we help clients
Our experienced environment and commercial teams cover all advisory, contentious and transactional aspects of environmental and regulatory law needed to help our clients build sustainable businesses, and communicate those claims compliantly to their customers. In this fast evolving and diverse area, we work hard to stay ahead of developments nationally and internationally.
In addition, our multi-practice Decarbonisation Group is helping to deliver sustainable infrastructure, finance the transition to net zero, tackle the carbon challenge and develop e-mobility solutions, putting us at the centre of our clients decarbonisation journey.
- We advise on:
- Developing sustainable infrastructure
- Funding the transition to a low carbon future
- Tackling the carbon challenge
- Decarbonising transport and low carbon mobility
- Land use and deforestation
- Natural resource management and renewables
- Advice on carbon reporting
- Environmental claims regulations under the CMA and ASA
- Our environment and decarbonisation
- Advising Western Power Distribution on its group decarbonisation strategy and compliance with its ISO 14001 certification requirements.
- Advising global logistics company Gazeley on environmental risk management advice across a number of its UK development projects.
- Advising a global online travel accommodation company on compliance obligations under the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).
- Advising Siemens on government procurement of (decarbonisation) systems to manage clean air zones i.e. ULEZ equivalent schemes.
- Advising a leading online retailer on its obligations under the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting scheme (SECR).
- Advising Vistry Partnerships on contamination and environmental regulatory risk on its flagship Meridian Water regeneration scheme in North London.
- Advising global medical waste provider Stericycle on international environmental compliance across its Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.
The purpose of governance is to ensure that there are systems and processes in place to ensure accountability within an organisation. There are a plethora of
regulatory requirements that will affect businesses as they seek to address the complexities of ESG reporting, directors’ scrutiny and strong governance, which is a vital issue for investors.
- How we help clients
Our market-leading corporate and regulatory teams have extensive experience of helping clients set up, review and implement governance structures. We advise clients on their corporate governance compliance and reporting obligations and on related stakeholder disputes.
We also provide training on directors’ duties and liabilities to organisations across various industries and sectors, tailored to the particular circumstances and sensitivities of the company.
- We advise on:
- Corporate governance advice on best practice and implementation (including adoption of frameworks / management structures)
- Directors’ and officers’ duties, ethics and transparency
- Ensuring boards are composed of independent members
- Identification of stakeholders and stakeholder engagement
- Clear anti-bribery and corruption policies
- Sustainability reporting and verification
- Anti-money laundering
- S172 reporting obligations
- UK Corporate Governance Code
- QCA Corporate Governance Code
- Corporate disputes, including derivative actions against directors and unfair prejudice actions
- Our governance experience
- Advising Hargreaves Lansdown on a reorganisation of its group-wide corporate governance arrangements, including updating policies, governance framework and assisting with implementation.
- Advising Campus Living Villages on its corporate governance, directors’ liability and compliance issues (including bespoke training to drive ongoing awareness and compliance).
- Confidential investigation in relation to conduct of directors and activities of subsidiary company, including breach of trust issues for group parent company.
- Acting for various organisations against former directors, officers and employees for breaches of fiduciary duties and restrictive covenants.
- Advising the board of a large education charity in relation to a move to a unified board, the continued remuneration of the CEO and a proposed merger.
- Advising a leading international design, engineering, science and risk management company, on its strategic approach to compliance across six risk areas, with particular focus on bribery, data privacy, and failure to prevent facilitation of tax evasion.
A crucial challenge for the decarbonisation of the economy is financing the transition to net zero. Many investors are increasingly looking to assess their investments through ESG criteria. Socially responsible investors also want to use their wealth to further sustainable development goals and make a positive impact.
- How we help clients
We help our clients to understand and adopt innovative green financial products and platforms. We also work with financial institutions to help them to understand the liability and risk involved in green investments. Our cross-sector and cross-service line teams advise on investment structures (whether by debt or equity) into all existing cleantech, battery and renewable technologies, as well as new technologies still in development.
- We advise on:
- Grant funding available for energy innovation projects
- Climate related investment platforms and start ups
- Funding of energy efficiency measures and projects Venture capital investment in cleantech
- Funding of energy storage and renewable energy projects
- Green and sustainability-linked finance
- Appropriate corporate governance/reporting/ESG disclosures
- Formation of impact and ESG funds
- The requirements on pension funds to consider ESG criteria
- Actions to improve ESG performance throughout the capital cycle
- Our sustainable finance experience
- Advising on the launch of The Mayor of London’s Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF). MEEF is a £500m investment fund established by the Greater London Authority with funding from the European Commission.
- Advising on the formation of the NESTA Impact Investment Fund, with Big Society Capital as its cornerstone investor.
- Currently advising several clients on compliance with the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).
- Advising Infrared on its investment framework (by way of debt and equity) into battery storage developer Statera Energy, and acting for Statera in respect of raising project finance for its 150MW portfolio.
- Advising Santander on the structuring, development and financing of a combined heat and power project and subsequently on the acquisition and financing of a solar farm project.
- Advising Foresight Solar Fund Limited on the completion of a £245 million multilevel debt refinancing for a portfolio of 28 UK ground-based solar PV assets, with a collective installed capacity of 321MW.