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A specialised group of lawyers from across our broad international network focusing on environmental aspects of our clients' businesses.

Our long established Environment Group is committed to assisting you with the challenges posed by ever stricter national, European and international environmental regulation. The team brings real expertise, technical understanding and entrepreneurial thinking to this complex and rapidly changing area of law.

Formed in 1988, our team of lawyers has built up a wealth of experience in all aspects of environmental work.

We have access to decision makers in industry and government at local, national and international level and in supra-national organisations such as the EU. We also work regularly with highly regarded international environmental consultants.

We have recently prepared a series of guides to environmental law and practice in 10 major jurisdictions. To access these guides, please click on this link.

Climate change

Climate change has the potential to impact upon many aspects of your business.

For that reason, Clifford Chance has developed a market-leading climate practice to advise on climate change issues and how they may affect our clients. From understanding the regulatory frameworks on carbon emissions to advising on the legal implications of new business opportunities and climate change mitigation strategies, Clifford Chance is ideally placed to act as your climate change legal partner to help in future-proofing your business and maximising current opportunities. 

Areas of specialism

Our market-leading climate change practice has a wealth of expertise and experience advising on climate change-related issues including:

Emissions trading environment

  • Regulation: Regulations affecting business e.g. building regulations, energy efficiency requirements, disclosure requirements, including lobbying government and other bodies
  • Emissions trading: Emissions trading schemes, linkages to emissions reduction projects e.g. CDM and JI, and more complex structured carbon products
  • Carbon footprinting and offsetting: Voluntary offsetting and carbon neutrality and associated reputational issues and quasi-regulation
  • Risk assessment: Climate change risk assessment and risk coverage solutions including insurance and other products
  • Adaptation issues: Adapting to climate change e.g. real estate development strategies, planning and zoning restrictions
  • Supply chain issues: Customer and supplier arrangements and outsourcing issues and increasing carbon and environmental-focused requirements
  • Transactions and restructuring: Climate change issues in corporate and real estate acquisitions and other investments and their financing
  • Funds, new products and businesses: Issues affecting funds and new business start-ups dedicated to the green market often dependent on an increasingly regulated market place
  • Renewable energy: Development, financing and acquisition of renewable energy projects with an increasingly complex regulatory framework and panoply of tax breaks and other investment incentives
  • Disputes: Disputes and litigation related to the effects of global climate change and business regulation

Contaminated land

Specialist advice on the workings of contaminated land regimes and the protection against or management of associated liabilities.

Industrialisation over the last 200 years has led to a significant legacy of contaminated land and waters and associated liability. The implications can be significant for those who own, lease or develop land, use land to carry out industrial processes; or who provide finance for any of these purposes.

We have substantial experience in advising on these implications and protecting against or managing any associated liabilities including advising on:

  • Regulatory powers that require clean-up of contaminated land and waters including representing clients faced with regulatory orders
  • Civil and criminal liabilities of polluters and owners of contaminated land
  • The necessity for environmental audits and appointing specialist environmental consultants
  • Cleaning up contaminated land and water including liasing with regulators and affected third parties (eg neighbours and previous owners) and negotiating remediation contracts with specialist contractors
  • Advising on liability structures on the acquisition or disposal of land as part of real estate or corporate transactions and on suitable structures for financing such activities
  • Offering innovative mechanisms for minimising or transferring liability such as "pie-crust" or surface leases, corporate liability structuring, risk transfer schemes
  • Redevelopment and regeneration of contaminated sites and associated planning matters including environmental impact assessment
  • Taxation implications of contaminated land eg on subsidies, grants and tax credits and exemptions for carrying out remediation and associated measures such as "landfill" taxes

We work with leading environmental consultants who specialise in identifying and assessing and designing remediation solutions for contaminated land.

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Corporate transactions

Looking after your environmental interests within corporate transactions.

The vast majority of corporate transactions involve significant consideration of environmental issues. From the acquisition of a single-site light industrial business, to complex joint ventures of multi-national chemical companies, we have the specialist environmental expertise to protect your interests arising out of the full range of environmental issues.

Key issues have historically been (and continue to be) asbestos, contaminated land and polluted waters. However increasingly, new and complicated issues have to be assessed and dealt with (eg climate change and landfill credit issues, recycling issues such as the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and product liability issues).

Our ability to pull together multi-jurisdictional specialist teams for complex cross-border transactions at short notice is particularly appreciated by our clients.

We have significant experience in this area including:

  • Legal review of all environmental documentation including permits and compliance, environmental contracts, litigation and administrative action, technical reports, environmental and health and safety policies, management systems and environmental insurance policies
  • Advising on appropriate environmental risk analysis for prospectuses for public company takeovers and other public offerings
  • Instructing and liasing with appropriate environmental and other technical consultants to carry out risk reviews
  • Advising on the structure of a transaction to help minimise environmental liability
  • Drafting and negotiating environmental provisions to deal with anticipated or potential environmental liabilities such as warranties, indemnities, escrow account provisions, and mechanisms providing for contaminated land clean-up
  • Carrying out complex risk / protection gap analysis where necessary to identify residual risks post-transaction (eg between pre-existing indemnity contracts / continuing insurance policies and transactional warranties and indemnities)
  • Making or defending claims under environmental provisions in transactional documents (eg environmental warranties and indemnities)

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Emissions trading

Facilitating the trading of carbon credits within the EU, under the Kyoto Protocol and internationally.

Clifford Chance recognises the importance that emissions trading plays in addressing climate change. It also recognises the role participants in this market have in providing the necessary liquidity and innovation to ensure that emissions trading remains an efficient way to achieve this role.

In recognition of this, Clifford Chance was the first law firm to form an Environmental and Climatic Trading Group (ECTG).

Clifford Chance's ECTG spans 17 jurisdictions and includes over 70 lawyers and allows us to offer an unrivalled pool of emissions trading expertise across Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East delivering a tailored service to clients in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

We act for a wide range of clients in different sectors including the world's leading participants in the emissions market. We also advise regulatory authorities, supranational bodies, governments and government agencies and actively help shape the market, working with market organisations and clients to develop documentation, policy and best practice. We are at the forefront of transactional innovation in the market, for example, advising on the world's first insurance instrument to protect against Kyoto risk and developing the latest IETA emissions reduction purchase agreement (ERPA).

We are able to offer our clients a complete and comprehensive suite of legal services for all aspects of their climate change and emissions trading activities, including:

  • Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation projects
  • Emissions trading under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme
  • Carbon finance
  • Risk transfer products
  • Regulatory and policy advice and strategies
  • Dispute resolution
  • Public law advice
  • Climate change strategies

For more information please contact one of the group's leaders.

Energy & the environment

Advice on the environmental aspects of energy projects and power plants, including planning and permitting, dealing with regulators, environmental liability and changes to the law.

Environmental aspects abound for energy projects at all stages of their development and subsequent operation. Numerous development and environmental consents and permits must be obtained, often involving detailed environmental analysis, negotiations with regulatory authorities and sometimes public inquiries. Providing legal advice on these and other aspects requires the right mix of skills and experience.

At Clifford Chance we recognise this and can advise you on all aspects of the development process. We have advised on the environmental aspects of developing and financing gas fired power stations and the environmental issues arising from the restructuring of the nuclear industry. We have also given environmental advice on the sale and purchase of electricity undertakings (power stations, grid connections or shares in energy companies), LNG projects, gas storage developments, oil refineries, financing of various power plants and been involved in advising on the environmental aspects of privatisation within the industry.

Projects Energy Oil and Gas

We also advise on renewable energy projects that are increasingly coming on stream as a result of international and European developments in this area. Examples of projects we've advised on include the development of wind farms and waste to energy schemes.

There are also the regulatory requirements to consider particularly in light of increasing regulation. We can provide ongoing advice on regulation requirements, environmental management procedures and risk management strategies including environmental insurance. We also advise on other aspects of environmental and health and safety liability, such as contamination, waste disposal and asbestos. For more information on how we can help, contact one of the team.

Environmental auditing & due diligence

Providing expert advice on environmental auditing and due diligence.

In many transactions, identifying environmental risks and liabilities is a critical first step in the transaction process. Once identified and quantified, an informed negotiation on risk allocation, value implications and risk management solutions can take place.

We have substantial experience in advising on undertaking and interpreting environmental audits and legal due diligence, including:

  • Undertaking environmental searches and enquiries
  • Interviewing environmental managers and directors
  • Selection and appointment of environmental consultants for desktop, Phase 1 and II audits
  • Working with appointed consultants to identify material issues
  • Reviewing consultant reports and providing legal liability analysis for identified issues
  • Reviewing legal documents (including permits, leases, warranties and indemnities) to assess potential environmental liability exposures and protections
  • Reviewing environmental insurance policies to ascertain cover provided and potential for claims
  • Advising on environmental permits and procedures for transferring such permits
  • Advising on all environmental regulatory issues arising from due diligence.

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Environmental liability, structuring & insurance

Advice on liability review, liability structuring and mitigation and the legal aspects of environmental insurance, including risk definition, insurance policies and claim litigation

Environmental matters, particularly contamination issues, are often unknown or difficult to assess and many become "deal breakers" in contract negotiations. The assessment of potential liabilities and selection of appropriate environmental risk transfer solutions are increasingly required to facilitate transactions, protect financiers and release shareholder value. Insurance often plays a key role in the risk transfer solution and we are well placed to advise on the legal aspects involved.

Our specialist environment lawyers are experienced in advising on all types of environmental liability and on the types of environmental insurance and other risk transfer solutions that can be put in place to protect against liability.

Our global team has local and cross-border experience in the following:

  • Assessing potential environmental issues facing your organisation and legal liability implications and on the range of risk transfer mechanisms available.
  • Advising on how to structure transactions to best mitigate or transfer environmental liability.
  • Identifying when to put risk transfer mechanisms in place and assisting in selecting the appropriate mechanism during contract negotiations, e.g. warranties, indemnities and insurance or combinations of mechanisms.
  • Assessing insurance policies already in place to determine the level of protection they offer and what additional risk transfer protection may be required.
  • Maintaining close contacts with specialist brokers who have a thorough knowledge of the relevant insurance markets and available insurance providers.
  • Negotiation of bespoke environmental insurance policies to cover any situation and assessment of any specific risks or gaps in the environmental policies. Advising on combining different types of risk transfer mechanisms to fill gaps.
  • Advising finance parties and other third parties on protecting their interests in relation to insurance policies e.g. by having interests noted or becoming additional insureds.
  • Innovation of novel environmental risk transfer and insurance solutions for certain scenarios, e.g. where contaminated land problems are particularly problematic: "pie-crust" leasing arrangements, sale and leasebacks, corporate restructuring.
  • Negotiation of claims under environmental insurance policies and where necessary, litigation of such claims often involving complex legal and factual matters.

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Environmental litigation, DR, claim management

Providing advice on structuring, optimising and steering environmental claims and conducting litigation.

Heightened awareness of environmental issues and the impact of new legislation have contributed greatly to a rise in disputes in this area.

Our experience has shown that the success of environmental litigation and claim management depends to a large extent on successfully combining legal and technical expertise as well as implementing suitable tools such as electronic databases. Dealing with a number of claims at the same time requires both manpower and clear advice on strategy, argumentation and dispute resolution. Clients tell us that our management services provide them with considerable economic value. We have also had opposing parties who failed to take claim management seriously from the beginning admit afterwards that this was a mistake.

Litigation and/or arbitration on environmental claims requires lawyers who have expertise in environmental law and other fields such as international dispute law, transaction law and criminal law. We can help in estimating risks of environmental litigation, building up appropriate balance sheets reserves and advising on alternative risk transfer. We work regularly with highly regarded international environmental consultants to help ensure the right combination of legal and technical expertise is available at all times.

As well as contract disputes and civil claims, we can also represent you in criminal prosecutions and regulatory actions arising from non-compliance or incidents of pollution.

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the team.

Environmental operational permitting/reporting

Advice on environmental permitting and associated reporting obligations

We recognise the importance of your knowing when you need operational environmental permits, how to obtain them and to be able to manage permitting issues over time. We provide expert advice on a range of operational permitting issues that can arise in project planning, corporate or other transactions or during the ongoing running of a business.

Environmental permits can target a wide variety of different environmental harms, which can be caused by industrial activities (eg water discharges, air emissions, water abstractions and land based waste disposal). Because of the interaction between the different elements of the environment the tendency has increased in the EU for these activities to be dealt with under combined or integrated permits. The permitting processes involved and the permits themselves have consequently in many cases become more and more complex over time.

We advise regularly on:

  • Deciding which permits are required for particular activities and from which regulatory authorities
  • Completing applications for permits and supporting justifications and explanatory materials and liasing with regulators to agree appropriate conditions and, where necessary, financial provisions; challenging refusals of permits and onerous conditions attached to permits
  • Combining / co-ordinating the processes of obtaining environmental permits and associated planning /zoning consents
  • Transferring permits including in the context of corporate or real estate transactions
  • The extent of reporting obligations and on compliance with such obligations
  • Surrendering permits including advising on obligations to carry out remedial works (eg on surrender of landfill permits or EU Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permits).

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Financial transactions lender's liability

Advising financial institutions and insolvency practitioners on how to minimise the risks of exposure to environmental liabilities and the value of their security.

As more emphasis is placed on finding responsible parties to remedy environmental damage, financial organisations are becoming increasingly concerned about their potential liabilities in providing funds and taking security over property.

We have a wealth of experience in advising financial clients and insolvency practitioners on protecting themselves and their investments against environmental liabilities. We are also asked increasingly to advise on non-legal policy frameworks with which major finance houses are expected to comply, eg the Equator Principles and World Bank guidelines for providing finance in developing countries.

We advise regularly on:

  • The potential for environmental liabilities to affect lenders and borrowers
  • Appropriate funding structures
  • Representations, warranties and indemnities
  • Implications of taking possession of real property and associated insolvency issues
  • Lender policies for devising and managing recovery strategies
  • Appropriate environmental due diligence.

We have particular expertise in advising lenders in specialised financial transactions where environmental issues arise such as: 

  • Project finance or PFI/PPP transactions such as waste-to-energy projects, hospitals and transport infrastructure where regulatory frameworks can be complex and central to the project proceeding
  • Privatisations of electricity, nuclear, water, coal and rail industries
  • Securitisations and bond issues. 

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Health & safety

Advice on all aspects of health and safety law and practice that relate to your business

We appreciate how essential it is for businesses to understand and keep track of health and safety requirements that apply to their activities. EU law has increased significantly the amount of detailed regulation in this area. Health and safety regulators treat non-compliance with these regulations seriously and any fines involved can be substantial.

We have significant expertise in advising on all aspects of public and employee health and safety law and practice including:

  • Health and safety policies and management systems; advising on structuring responsibility in corporate organisations for health and safety matters and on directors' responsibilities
  • Regulatory duties in the workplace - from regulation of the use of particular types of equipment (eg. pressure or electrical equipment) to management of dangerous substances (eg. asbestos in premises)
  • Specialist health and safety matters in high risk industries; eg. nuclear, mining and chemical installations (eg. EU COMAH regulations aimed at planning to prevent large scale industrial accidents)
  • Defence against enforcement action and prosecution by health and safety regulators and associated civil damages claims, including asbestos claims
  • Assessing insurance and workers' compensation protection against health and safety liabilities and claims
  • Legal review of health and safety risks and negotiation of appropriate contractual protection in corporate transactions involving significant health and safety matters

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the team.

Industrial park structures

A specialised group of environmental and corporate Clifford Chance lawyers advises you on all aspects of structuring and restructuring industrial and/or chemical parks.

Clifford Chance's environmental and corporate law teams offer you expert advice on the highly specialised legal issues surrounding industrial and chemical parks. We can help you separate industrial services from real estate ownership and environmental liability. Our service includes finding the best way to manage all your environmental risks. We can advise you on outsourcing technical services without jeopardizing high service level standards.

Our goal is to help your industrial enterprise to focus on its core business - rather than dealing with real estate issues and site services. We focus on advising on the opportunities and risks facing your business. We have significant expertise in helping to define and clarify the legal framework applicable to this evolving area of environmental law. Our recent experience includes large German industrial and chemical parks covering a total of about 7 million square metres.

Legislative & regulatory advice & compliance

Providing legislative and regulatory advice across a range of environmental and health and safety and related product liability issues.

The environment, health and safety and related product liability issues have seen some of the most significant and rapid developments in detailed legislation, regulation and case law of any legal subject areas in the last twenty years. Keeping abreast of such a broad and rapidly changing mass of information can be a significant challenge for clients particularly when advice is needed in a cross-border context.

We provide expert legal advice across the whole range of environmental, health and safety and related product liability areas. We are particularly well placed to provide consistent advice on a multi-jurisdictional basis given the breath of our office coverage and environmental expertise. Clients have found this resource to be particularly helpful in the European context where the implementation of EU-driven environmental law can differ subtly in the different EU Member States.

Public policy

We advise regularly on businesses' compliance with legislation and regulation in the transactional context or more generally during the business' ongoing operation. We often provide this advice in co-operation with technical advice from major environmental consultants.

We also advise on the impact of changes to legislation and regulations and in tracking new legislative developments. Examples include: 

  • Asbestos regulation and liabilities
  • Contamination and pollution issues
  • Biotechnology
  • Energy, utilities and natural resources (eg nuclear industry, mining and quarrying)
  • Marine and wild habitats and other nature conservation issues
  • Waste Management
  • Telecommunications
  • Climate Change, Renewables and Emissions Trading
  • Planning/ zoning and land use
  • Public and employee health and safety
  • Chemicals regulation e.g. the EU "REACH" regime
  • Product liability, labelling and advertising

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Nature conservation

Advice on how to implement development projects while respecting protected nature conservation interests

Without careful consideration of protected nature conservation interests, development projects can be derailed or entirely frustrated.

From informal local designation of attractive landscapes to major internationally protected habitats, the variety of different types of protection afforded to nature interests requires in-depth knowledge of the applicable regimes and forms of protection. In addition to national law, EU law has introduced Europe-wide nature conservation law under the Birds and Habitats Directives. With the increasing weight given to such Directives by administrators and the courts, it is vital to take due account of nature conservation law in the early stages of planning a project.

We have the experience to guide clients though the intricacies of nature conservation law to help them avoid such pitfalls.

In particular, we can assist with:

  • Devising and liasing with the relevant regulators to obtain approval of impact mitigation strategies
  • Co-ordinating nature consent issues with the relevant planning/zoning processes
  • Making representations to regulators and other relevant authorities regarding proposed designations to protect particular nature interests
  • Defending criminal or administrative proceedings relating to interference with nature interests

We also liaise with expert consultants to assess the impacts of development on nature conservation interests.

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.

Planning & zoning land use

Our experienced planning team works with developers, businesses and public authorities to find practical and commercial solutions to their planning needs.

We offer a full range of services covering all aspects of town and country planning and environmental law.

We can advise you on development and redevelopment projects of all kinds, helping you secure consent and meet your legal requirements efficiently and cost-effectively.

We offer specialist expertise in the following areas:

  • Negotiating with local planning authorities and the Environment Agency
  • Negotiating planning and infrastructure agreements
  • Acquisition of land and rights by compulsory purchase
  • Acting at public inquiries including planning appeals and development plan inquiries
  • Highways issues and agreements
  • Judicial review proceedings in the High Court
  • Environmental advice in real estate acquisitions including contaminated land issues
  • Listed building and conservation areas

Development Environment Industrial Park Structures

We have experience in providing advice on planning issues relating to a wide range of development types including:

  • Redevelopment of brownfield sites for residential and commercial use
  • Town centre redevelopments
  • Retail and mixed use developments
  • Major office developments
  • Leisure schemes
  • PPP/PFI-combining public interest and private investment in various sectors
  • Energy and utility projects

Product safety and liability

Advice on all environmental law issues concerned with product liability, labelling and advertising

Any business which is involved in the manufacture, import, supply or sale of manufactured products needs to be aware of the plethora of EU and national law applying to those products.

We have experience in advising on this highly technical area of law for our clients where it relates to environmental or health and safety issues including:

  • Advising on the technical requirements, which products need to comply with under both EU and national laws often on a multi-jurisdictional basis. This includes EU compliance standards, labelling, advertising, notification and registration (eg in relation to the new WEEE directive) 
  • Advising on the employee health and safety requirements involved in product manufacture, maintenance and repair 
  • Advising on liability for the different stages of the manufacture and supply chain for products (eg CCA timber) 

We also make and defend claims by consumers relating to injury and disease caused by products (e.g. asbestos).

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the team.

Real estate transactions

Helping you reduce the risks of environmental liability arising in real estate developments, transactions and investments

The environment is an important feature in any significant real estate development or transaction. We have experience in advising on all related environmental issues including:

Identifying potential environmental issues and liabilities on the acquisition of land including buildings, plant and machinery (eg asbestos and PCBs) including instructing and liasing with specialist environmental consultants 

Structuring real estate transactions to protect clients from, or to mitigate against, environmental liabilities eg by using novel techniques such as pie-crust or surface leases 

Real Estate Planning/Zoning and Land Use 

  • Advising on risk transfer solutions such as environmental insurance 
  • Negotiating indemnity protection and transfer of liability provisions 
  • Environmental issues arising out of redevelopment and regeneration of sites including clean-up of contaminated land, ecological constraints and associated planning issues such as environmental assessment and compulsory purchase 
  • Environmental legal implications for creating new ways of holding and dealing with land eg funds, trusts structures, limited liability partnerships and SPV entities and trading vehicles 
  • Specific issues relating to complex shared sites where services may need to be shared or separated and regulatory permits revised. 

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the team or see our full team of environmental specialists. 

Waste management

Advice on all waste management matters

Waste management and disposal activities can have significant and long-term impacts on the environment. Attempts to reduce such impacts have seen many legislative reforms seeking to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and to minimise the impact of landfilling of waste. EU legislation has also focused on attempts to reduce the amount of waste to be managed through imposing requirements to recycle and reuse existing products. This is a complex and rapidly changing legislative and regulatory area in which we have significant experience.

We provide advice on all waste management, disposal and recycling issues including:

  • Necessary consents for waste projects, which often involve complex matters relating to providing financial guarantees for compliance with permit conditions 
  • Making applications for waste projects and co-ordinating the obtaining of environmental permits and associated planning/zoning consents 
  • Industrial operators waste operations including on-site landfills and "cradle-to-grave" obligations for waste control and responsibility 
  • Recycling, re-use and recovery obligations including, eg. for waste packaging and more recently on how clients can prepare for requirements of the new EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive
  • The ongoing application of conditions on licences, compliance matters and transfer of permit issues, permit surrenders including works required to remedy environmental harm caused by waste operations 
  • Post-disposal liability issues including the inter-relationship between different regulatory controls 
  • Transportation including importing and exporting waste and the use of waste in agriculture 
  • Waste management/landfill tax and credit systems and on landfill allowance trading 

For more information on how we can help, contact a member of the Environment Group.