ESG litigation and crisis management

ESG litigation and crisis management


Increased corporate, societal and political focus on ESG has prompted an uptick in ESG-related litigation globally. These claims are emerging in a variety of ways across different jurisdictions, including "greenwashing" claims, climate change litigation, business and human rights claims and environmental contamination litigation. They are all characterised by their novelty and their attempts to push the boundaries of established liability frameworks.

This means that businesses across a broad variety of sectors are having to manage this emerging risk. They are also grappling with the multi-jurisdictional nature of this litigation, with increasing attempts to hold corporates to account for harms allegedly occurring overseas and often in the businesses of third parties. In the UK, the rise in so-called "parent company liability" claims is one example of this trend.

Whether or not litigation is involved, ESG-related risks can often also result in moments of crisis for a business, posing unique and unprecedented challenges, requiring swift, strategic and effective crisis management to minimise disruption and protect the stability, integrity and reputation of the business.

Our Dispute Resolution lawyers have sustained experience in handling complex, cross-border and high-profile ESG-related claims, including some of the most novel types of claim. They take a holistic view to responding to ESG-related litigation, ensuring that they focus not only on the courtroom battle but also on the wider commercial, reputational and business ethics implications of the litigation. This includes, where appropriate, a focus on innovative solutions, such as Operational-level Grievance Mechanisms, so that businesses and those they work with can move forwards in line with their ESG objectives.

In addition, we have market-leading expertise in advising on the implementation of comprehensive and robust crisis response frameworks. If things go wrong, we are also on hand to support our clients through crisis situations, helping them to engage with regulators and other advisers, achieve a successful resolution and identify and embed lessons learned. Our specialist lawyers have experience of highly complex and sensitive internal and regulatory investigations, enforcement actions and disciplinary proceedings, working in multi-disciplinary teams tailored to the circumstances to achieve the best outcome for our clients.

We have particular expertise in the following areas:

  • Activist shareholders
  • Business and human rights and supply chain issues
  • Parent company liability
  • FCA, CMA and tax investigations and dawn raids
  • Fraud, bribery and corruption and other financial crime
  • Data/cyber-security breach
  • Environment and climate risk management
  • Health and safety
  • Product liability
  • Sanctions and export controls
  • Whistleblowing, discrimination and harassment

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