Environment

Investors, customers, and regulators are increasingly focused on businesses’ environmental impact as the risks of climate change, water shortages and zoonotic disease become clearer.

Compliance with regulation at operational and product level is more relevant than ever to market access. We advise on the full range of environmental, product and health and safety regulation. This includes industrial and chemical regulation, emissions abatement, environmental permitting and decommissioning, and contaminated land. We also advise on product and substance regulation, including food and chemical regulation and on the governance and quality systems necessary for compliance.

Linklaters has truly global reach that enables us to provide comparative advice across the world. The group is well known for its standalone expertise, but also functions seamlessly with Linklaters’ market-leading transactional and financial regulatory teams.

We are recognised by independent legal commentators as a top-tier specialist environmental practice that is “at the top of its game”.

How Linklaters can help you

Chemical regulation

Chemical use, management and storage is highly regulated in most countries. The complexity of this area makes it easy for non-compliances to arise, and failure to comply can prevent a business from placing products on the market. We help clients to work through regulatory requirements, correct breaches and manage regulatory engagement. We can also assess their compliance culture and help in refreshing and updating relevant management systems and product governance.

Contaminated land

Legacy liabilities for contamination are a common issue for industrial and extractive sector clients. We have experience in negotiating proportionate allocation of contamination liabilities and mechanisms for remediation, and we can support you in regulatory engagements where you are alleged to be a responsible party. We also act on regulatory and civil disputes relating to contamination liabilities.

Emissions trading and regulation

After a period when emissions trading was not a major area of concern, companies are starting to face increased regulatory requirements regarding emissions compliance and this trend is set to deepen over the next ten years. We work closely with our clients to help them integrate emissions costs and constraints into their operating strategy and decision-making processes. We also support clients who trade in the voluntary markets or through regulated trading schemes, and we also advise on the acquisition or disposals of trading businesses. Our experience includes working on industrial and programmatic emission reduction programs as well as forestry and agriculture related projects.

Environmental permitting

Regulatory imperatives and the enforcement of existing environmental requirements are important not only in relation to operational compliance, but also for project development. Project developers need to pay close attention from the outset to ensure that their permitting procedures are sufficiently robust to manage exposure to future third party challenges and associated risks. Operators will want to maintain good relationships with regulators and other stakeholders to optimise their flexibility in planning in any required upgrades. Our team provides strategic legal advice to help you meet these challenges in a timely and cost effective manner. We cooperate closely with technical environmental experts and relevant regulatory authorities.

Environmental regulation

We have a wide ranging regulatory practice, which focuses on complex regulatory analysis including in relation to biodiversity, chemicals, carbon emissions, contaminated land, decommissioning, nuclear regulation, permitting, and waste disposal and transfrontier shipment.

Health and safety

We advise on health and safety regulation and we can also help if things go badly wrong. Our advisory practice typically focuses on complex regulatory analysis and on supporting clients to develop effective safety governance and management systems. Our team has experience of advising on major safety related incidents as part of our crisis practice. We also advise on the growing trend to impose parent level liability under tort laws or under regulatory duties of vigilance including in respect of supply chain issues.

Product regulation and product liability

‘Cradle to grave' product stewardship is now a familiar concept, and we advise on product regulation and product governance issues in many sectors. Typically, a failure to comply means the product cannot be placed on the market where the breach has occurred and so compliance is important to get right.

Our team has a wealth of experience in this area and we work hard to make the complex, simpler. We can provide experts across our markets to assess product regulation and to support you where you are facing a challenging issue in relation to product or component quality or compliance.

We also advise on major product safety related incidents and crises as part of our wider crisis practice. Should the need arise, we can help with regulatory and liability analysis and strategy and also support you in relation to the challenging communication issues that can often arise.

Transactional support

We are highly experienced in providing environmental, social, health and safety and product related advice in the context of mergers and acquisitions, de-mergers, IPOs, joint ventures and project financings. We are recognised leaders in the application of international environmental and social standards in financing transactions, including in relation to sensitive issues such as stakeholder engagement, resettlement, biodiversity and climate and human rights assessments.

We focus on providing practical, strategic advice that enables our clients to negotiate robust, workable provisions on the allocation of operational and long tail risks. Our transactional work includes: due diligence, including working with technical consultants, contractual drafting, and ensuring the effective transfer of environmental incentives, credits and allowances, and permits, advice on disclosures and risk factors in public offer documents.

Waste regulation

Waste storage and disposal is highly regulated in most countries and the export of waste to emerging markets is a growing area of regulatory focus. We provide clients with advice on the application of waste law to their businesses and on transfrontier shipment issues. We have experience supporting clients under investigation from their regulators, and in defending prosecutions and/or developing mitigation strategies.

Our key Environment experience

Helping clients work through regulatory requirements

  • Advised a multinational oil and gas company on the environmental, health and safety aspects of the $5bn sale of its acetyls and aromatics businesses to a global chemicals manufacturer.
  • Advised various clients (including companies in the high-tech industry, an international commodities business, a construction products manufacturer and a global aeroplane furniture manufacturer) on the application of the REACH Regulation.
  • Advised a global fertilizer producer in relation to emerging national product requirements for slow release fertilizers in France and the interface of these requirements with EC fertilizer legislation.

Health and Safety

  • Advising a global oil and gas company to undertake a review of HSE risks across ten jurisdictions and five business units having particular regard to current and anticipated trends in HSE legislation, policy, and enforcement, including the impact of non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders in this sphere.
  • Advising a major mining company on the risks of parent company liability under English law in respect of damage arising out of the operations of its subsidiaries across various jurisdictions, including commenting on HSE operational and litigation policies and guidelines with a view to minimising the risk of parent company liability for acts of its various subsidiaries in the wake of the Lubbe-v-Cape case.
  • Advised a multi-industrial company on the environmental, health and safety aspects (including contaminated land, carbon emissions, waste management and permitting) of its agreement to acquire certain assets of a leading steel manufacturer.

Integrating emissions requirements

  • Advising in relation to mandatory corporate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions; narrative reporting including advice on sustainability reports and advising on the regulatory regime applicable to carbon capture and storage.
  • Advising on the engagement with the Department of Energy and Climate Change on behalf of a range of clients to achieve structural change in the UK's Renewable Obligation and an absolute increase in the value of support for offshore wind, given adverse credit markets and exchange rate movements.

Environmental permitting

  • Advising an energy project client in relation to an EA investigation into permit breaches which resulted in the acceptance of a caution instead of prosecution.
  • Undertaking a global compliance review for a multinational heavy industrial company, including assessment of its compliance with anti-bribery and corruption laws and with safety, environmental and social regulations and permit requirements.
  • Advising the sponsors on the proposed financing of a wind farm in relation to biodiversity issues and the designation of special protection areas under EU legislation.

Big business and the environment - our role in major transactions

  • Advised one of the world’s largest energy companies in relation to the environmental, health and safety aspects of the sale of four distribution networks as part of a hive-down and share sale, including advising on complex permitting and legal requirements triggered by the transfer and the contractual allocation of contaminated land and health and safety liabilities.
  • Advised a leading global mining company on the US$1.5bn sale of its Brazilian mining businesses.
  • Advised a multinational conglomerate on the environmental aspects of the merger of its European steel business with another steel manufacturer.

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"ESG" in the broadest sense covers environmental, social and governance issues but consensus on details of the meaning can vary and public perceptions are changing rapidly.

Our ESG team has a robust understanding of the regulatory and policy drivers of the market and experience across a wide range of sectors and contexts. We take a holistic approach, covering a wide range of areas - from climate change and resource efficiency, human rights and community engagement, antibribery and corruption, transparency and disclosure, product governance, and risk management more generally.

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