Environment, social and governance (ESG) perspectives – and how they interact – have rapidly become main drivers of societal changes for business, finance, politics and law. For our clients, ESG touches on their Licence to Operate and Purpose of Business, offering them great opportunities to distinguish themselves from competitors, and to strengthen their long-term policies and growth. Like many complex topics, the emerging legislation around sustainability at the same time requires careful and complex decision-making by our clients. We help clients in all sectors navigate this process by offering a cross-expertise approach - with experts who are leaders in their field and at the forefront of legal developments.
As an integrated team, we offer a holistic view - our experts can assess our clients' needs by anticipating legal changes for years to come. Our team knows how to deal with novel, complex, and often publicly scrutinised matters. This puts us in a unique position to handle ESG-related matters for companies, financial institutions, and major state-owned entities. Our central role in the European legal sector allows us to operate as a knowledge hub and to provide holistic and integrated advice that is fit for purpose and anticipates the future of sustainability law. We can achieve the best outcome in this multifaceted area when it comes to governance, projects, transactions, and public and private enforcement. This is how we help our clients take an advanced - but legally sound and defensible -stance on ESG.
Our climate change practice is unrivalled, having represented clients in precedent-setting climate litigation. In our role as trusted adviser to many energy companies, we have an extensive track record in litigating ESG aspects. Some examples include:
On an ongoing basis, we advise our clients on impending EU legislation on sustainable reporting and due diligence, and on the structure of their ESG policies. This requires a holistic and integrated approach to ensure that our clients' strategy, policies and governance are in alignment with their ESG-related targets and ambitions. Additional work includes antitrust advice on horizontal and vertical sustainability efforts, and on defence mandates against greenwashing claims. We also help our clients incorporate their ESG ambitions into their M&A and financing approach. We have, for example, acted as issuer counsel for multiple issuers of green and sustainability-linked bonds for Tennet, Gasunie and others.
Our work in the energy transition and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems is unprecedented and takes a central position in the Dutch market. We have a longstanding track record in energy and environmental law (ranked tier 1 by all leading guides), having been at the forefront of all major developments, including in renewable energy (wind and solar); hydrogen; carbon capture, utilisation and storage; large-scale heat; and emission reduction and climate-related litigation.
Recent matters include:
Our social justice track record is second to none. We advise and litigate in numerous unprecedented mandates on social justice, equal treatment, privacy, and human rights. Clients engage us to review their codes of conduct, human rights policies, and to advise on questions of social justice and equal treatment. This includes how to implement relevant obligations of means in our clients' due diligence policies. And when they face litigation, we stand ready to defend client interests.
As a selection of our work in the public sphere, De Brauw:
assist the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO in a dispute with COPINH about FMO’s financing of a project in Honduras designed to provide clean and sustainable energy and to create jobs and benefits for local communities. COPINH initiated legal proceedings against FMO for financing this project, alleging that FMO as financier is liable for violations of human rights standards. These legal proceedings are still ongoing.
De Brauw is also acting in precedent-setting class actions involving privacy and data protection. Our work includes:
ESG touches the Purpose of Business of large corporates, as it plays a central role in the governance and success of our clients. De Brauw acts as boardroom adviser to a majority of large and listed Dutch companies, including financial institutions.
Our corporate advisory experts include holistic ESG considerations in their boardroom advice. This includes reviewing policies and strategic frameworks, and adapting to emerging ESG legislation. We also assist many clients with their ongoing stakeholder dialogue and activism, including shareholder resolutions on climate change and sustainability of operations.
Clients active in the financial sector especially face regulation that mobilises capital towards sustainable business, and potential enforcement by prudential supervising authorities. We assist our clients in meeting these challenges, rethinking their governance, integrating ESG in their risk management and other aspects of their business to secure sound and prudent business operations, putting transactions in place, and navigating litigation risks where needed.
Our recent work includes: