Environmental, Social & Governance

Nicolien van den Biggelaar
Eva Schram
Dennis Horeman
+ 18 other experts

Mainstream, complex and critical

... and certainly no longer an 'emerging' topic. Environmental, Social and Governance factors – alongside the broader challenge of sustainability – are an increasingly important area for clients.

Society and the law fuel increasing demands on business for transparency, responsibility and ultimately, accountability. A license to operate is no longer sufficient as trust wanes in formal regulatory approval and in the regulatory authorities themselves. Yet society is also at the forefront of climate change and the necessary energy transition, which implies massive and disruptive developments in the legal, political and economic landscape, all further impacting corporates already under increasing public scrutiny. These developments require to complex decision-making and raise new legal questions in the absence of political guidance or clear legal frameworks.

We advise corporates and major state-owned entities in the epic-center of such change. Our extensive experience navigating this challenging landscape, and dealing with complex and often politically sensitive matters, puts us in a unique position to handle such matters. We have a well-developed informal network with senior advisers and legal staff in central government, and work in multidisciplinary teams and liaise with technical experts to build strong cases in this multifaceted and complex area, that withstand judicial review by third parties.

Insights

16 March 2021

Consultation launched on new legal entity for social entrepreneurs

In July 2020, the Dutch government announced its plans to introduce the BVm (maatschappelijke BV) in Dutch corporate law – see our previous In Context article. The BVm is a new type of private limited liability company for social entrepreneurs active in addressing societal issues. The new type of legal entity will make it easier to identify companies with a positive impact on society. This will in turn help social enterprises and stakeholders connect and do business with each other.
17 February 2021

Guidance on green cooperation: Dutch competition authority leads the way

The European Green Deal seeks to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. As increased societal awareness is not enough to reach this goal, all stakeholders are contributing, with companies taking corporate social responsibility plans seriously. However, when undertakings join together to pursue sustainability objectives, they risk flouting cartel prohibitions. Policy trade-offs are being contemplated to ensure that prohibitions do not become an unnecessary obstacle to pro-sustainability cooperation. The Dutch competition authority (the ACM) is leading the way. After publishing draft guidelines on the role of competition law in promoting sustainability, it has now issued a revised draft following public consultation. The UK competition authority, CMA, has also published information to assist businesses in achieving sustainability goals. A number of other agencies support similar flexible antitrust approaches, including factoring the environmental implications of mergers. Now, to reach pan-European consensus…
17 February 2021

Green competition: how consumer law can help prevent misleading sustainability claims

The European Green Deal seeks to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. As increased public awareness is not enough to reach this goal, all stakeholders are contributing, with companies taking corporate social responsibility seriously. They increasingly offer green products and services. But how can customers assess sustainability claims? And how can consumer authorities prevent "greenwashing"? The European Commission recently coordinated a market survey by the national consumer authorities of all 27 member states that focused on sustainability claims. Meanwhile, the Dutch competition and consumer authority (the ACM) issued guidelines on how to ensure that sustainability claims comply with consumer law. In related news, there has been a call for more competition-related guidance at EU level. This guidance is needed where businesses risk flouting cartel prohibitions by jointly pursuing sustainability objectives.