Managing Transactional Risk

Environment, Health and Safety (HSE) risks are highly regulated in most countries. In the EU, the risk of incurring significant penalties for HSE breaches has been less than in the US. That position is slowly evolving. The UK's sentencing regime for HSE breaches takes account of the degree of fault, impact and the economic circumstances of the defendant. In emerging markets, legislation is typically reasonably strong, but enforcement can be variable. here, issues can arise for market entrants who may be the subject of strict expectations.

We also see increased willingness for individuals and special interest groups to bring civil suits against companies for environmental or social wrongs. Increasingly, groups are seeking to bring claims against parent companies based in Europe in the European courts in respect of damage sustained in other countries where the allegation relates to the actions or omissions of a subsidiary entity.

Our lawyers advise on the full range of HSE issues including contaminated land, environmental damage, waste management, water industrial emissions, industrial disease, (occupational) health and safety and environmental permitting. We also advise on emerging regulation and enforcement trends, to help you anticipate issues and position yourself for incoming requirements.

The team provides real-time and practical solutions to optimize outcomes and mitigate disruption to business or to any contemplated transactions.

Recent transactions include advising:

  • a global asset manager on the allocation of liability at law and under property documentation for asbestos management and exposure to hazardous substances for a portfolio of UK properties
  • Thames Water Utilities on environmental issues in connection with the £4.2bn, 25km Thames Tideaway sewage tunnel project
  • a company on the nuclear and environmental regulatory aspects of the development and construction of a nuclear power plant (including liability for nuclear incidents and radioactive contaminated land)
  • a German company involved in oil and gas exploration and production on potential environmental liabilities following the transfer of its interest in the relevant consortium and title to mining concessions to a third party
    a leading Belgian developer operating in Poland in relation to complex environmental liability and clean-up issues, in particular environmental monitoring obligations.
  • Rio Tinto's Aluminium division, Alcan in relation to separating the Lynemouth Power Station from the Lynemouth Smelter, including advising on and negotiations relating to a biomass supply agreement and extensive advice on the sustainability requirements applicable to biomass feedstock in the UK.
  • GDF SUEZ on the acquisition by China Investment Corporation (CIC) of a 30% stake in its Exploration & Production division and of a 10% stake in the LNG Atlantic liquefaction plant in Trinidad and Tobago, including providing for the contractual allocation of responsibility for decommissioning risks.
  • 2Co Energy Ltd in relation to its acquisition of the Hatfield Colliery and power stational development and subsequently in relation to the development of the power station as a carbon capture and storage facility, one of the few commercial scale CCS projects being developed globally.
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro on the disposal of its professional horticultural business, including advice in relation to the regulatory regimes for fertilisers and pesticides in the EU, as well as on a complex agreement for the transfer and maintenance of regulatory product registrations and their underlying technical data sets across a range of jurisdictions