Environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) issues are becoming more important to corporates, governments and individuals. With that comes increased scrutiny of companies’ governance policies and procedures as regulators, investors and the public seek to hold businesses to account for activities that have environmental and social consequences. This, in turn, raises the risk of disputes arising where businesses fail to meet expected ESG standards.

Stewarts has a specialist multidisciplinary team on hand to assist with ESG-related disputes. This includes market-leading lawyers drawn from our Commercial Disputes, Securities Litigation, Competition Disputes, International Arbitration, Tax Litigation, Employment, Investigations and Policyholder Disputes teams.


Disputes that may arise

ESG claims can be based on a wide spectrum of legal grounds, including tort, breach of fiduciary duty, claims for misstatement/misrepresentation, and under company and securities law. Specific areas where disputes may arise include:

  • Public/shareholder activism against corporates
  • Claims of misrepresentation and/or mis-selling, including ‘greenwashing’ and investor claims such as under s.90/90A Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
  • Claims in respect of breach of directors’ duties
  • Disputes in respect of climate-related schemes such as emissions trading and environmental taxes
  • Regulatory investigations in respect of advertising and/or disclosures
  • Supply-chain disputes relating to the environmental and ethical credentials of parties in the supply chain, including where international sanctions are imposed
  • Employment claims arising from discrimination and failure to implement adequate diversity and inclusion policies
  • Mass tort group actions against corporates (including the liability of parent companies for subsidiaries) for harmful actions
  • Insurance claims arising out of disputes such as those listed above

Our expertise

We have extensive experience of commercial disputes. Our clients include FTSE 100 companies, Fortune 500 and other international corporations, as well as institutional investors, foreign governments, public bodies and individuals. As a litigation-only firm, we are conflict free, enabling us to act against global banks and other multinationals. Many of our cases are ground-breaking and involve applying new and developing areas of the law. We handle major contractual and tortious disputes both for and against some of the UK’s and the world’s largest corporates.

  • We have acted on several ground-breaking securities actions against large banks and corporations, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Tesco plc and Glencore plc in relation to misreporting in corporate disclosures.
  • Our Commercial Disputes team has acted on many high-profile mis-selling claims in the financial services sector. We also regularly act on commercial disputes between counterparties relating to reputational risk within the supply chain, including risks arising from the imposition of international sanctions.
  • Our Investigations team investigates, pursues, and defends fraud and corruption claims, executes effective risk management and recovery strategies and enforces judgments worldwide.
  • Our Competition Litigation team acts in competition claims on behalf of major corporate clients who have been adversely affected by cartels or abuse of a dominant position. For example, we recently acted for Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall in relation to its multi-million Euro claim against powercable manufacturers NKT, Prysmian and Nexans.
  • Our International Arbitration team has a wealth of experience of conducting arbitrations seated in London and other major arbitration centres around the world and has particular expertise in energy disputes.
  • Our Tax Litigation team has extensive experience of matters concerning Landfill Tax, acting in relation to disputes with HMRC and disputes between commercial parties.
  • Our Employment team advises employers and employees on the full range of employment and HR issues, including whistleblowing, discrimination and unfair dismissal. We are experts in Employment Tribunal and High Court proceedings. We have a wealth of experience of bringing successful claims on behalf of employees and take a robust approach to defending our clients’ rights in court.
  • Our Policyholder Disputes team advises policyholders on a wide range of disputes with insurers, including financial and professional risks, first-party losses flowing from natural and man-made disasters, and third-party liability, including general public liability, occupiers’ and employers’ liability, product liability and recall and environmental liability.

If you require assistance, please call us or email your enquiry.

Meet the ESG Disputes Team

We structure partner-led teams from one or more specialist areas depending upon the subject matter of the dispute.

We have pre-eminent lawyers covering all commercial disputes subject matters.

Frances Baird, Solicitor, Commercial Litigation and Employment, Stewarts

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