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Legal and ESG

Legal plays a critical role in solving today’s challenges

Managing an organisation’s legal considerations now means thinking about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Done right, it goes well beyond ticking boxes, because the legal function is a critical player in meeting ESG goals.

More and more, investors and other stakeholders expect businesses to pursue sustainability, address risks such as climate change, and commit to diversity, inclusion and equity. At the same time, standards and regulations around ESG are expanding rapidly at the local, national and global levels. Together, these trends are fueling demand for ESG-focused legal services—and even new legal practices dedicated solely to ESG matters.

ESG factors are also increasingly important in weighing the legal implications of business decisions and long-term plans. As climate change accelerates, businesses will encounter both new risks and new opportunities with far-reaching legal impacts. And to stay viable, they will need to keep up with both society’s evolving expectations about corporate behaviour and changing business models. This has created a complex environment for any business to navigate.

For all of these reasons, ESG has become a crucial part of legal work today, one that cuts across every aspect of the profession. Whatever your need when it comes to ESG and legal matters, our community of solvers can help guide you through this changing landscape. We understand our clients’ unique problems and bring global expertise to help them find solutions to new and emerging problems.

Building trust through holistic thinking, due diligence and transparency

Climate

Growing efforts to address climate change and pursue net-zero goals create challenges and opportunities for businesses, investors, customers and other stakeholders alike. Whether you are developing renewable energy resources, investing in carbon-capture technology, financing sustainability projects through green bonds, trading carbon credits or simply considering how your business can establish measurable climate change targets, you’ll need to consider the legal implications.

Our team of integrated legal professionals delivers a holistic perspective. Working with specialists from across a spectrum of areas—Deals, Tax, Consulting and Assurance—we give you clear, actionable advice on climate-related legal issues. Whether you need to navigate complex government regulations or negotiate corporate power purchase agreements, our experts will help you manage the contractual impacts of ESG issues, and understand and control your changing risk profile.

Whatever the challenge you’re facing, PwC’s global network of legal professionals can help your business meet its strategic goals.

Transparency, Reporting and Governance

With society’s rising expectations around transparency, reporting and governance, businesses face corresponding and complex challenges with compliance. In a global marketplace, rules and regulations—from anti-bribery and corruption laws to privacy and data protection requirements—vary from territory to territory and are continually evolving. Businesses also need to meet requirements related to corporate governance, ethics, anti-competitive practices, consumer protection, board diversity and executive pay. Compliance means keeping up with ongoing changes and best practices.

To stay ahead, it helps to have both local expertise and a global mindset. Our network of legal professionals across more than 90 territories can provide just that, delivering the insights and guidance you need to drive your business forward.

Deals / Responsible Investment

Acquisitions, divestment and restructures will give rise to many legal considerations that need to take ESG into account. Data about climate risks, supply chain sustainability, workforce health and safety, labour disputes and more are important matters for sell-side and buy-side due diligence. Such information helps business leaders understand and form a view on the risk profile of the target entity or business, and broadly impact the risk allocation in the sale and purchase agreement and, ultimately, the valuation of the entity or business. Similarly, matters such as pollution, resource shortages, corruption or bribery scandals can lead to both short- and long-term costs, reputational harm and litigation.

At the same time, your investment decisions can enhance your company’s brand and reputation, especially among stakeholders that value sustainability and social responsibility. Due diligence is vital to investing, particularly when it involves social impacts. Our global capabilities across a spectrum of activities—M&A, international business reorganisations, special projects and financial services—will equip you to consider these issues thoroughly and guide your business in the right direction.

People aspects of ESG

The nature of work around the world has changed dramatically in recent years, driven by advances in digital technologies, new trade agreements and the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising ESG expectations from investors, consumers and employees are now catalysing even more change. Whether it’s the growth of the ‘gig economy,’ greater mobility allowing people to work across borders, the increased adoption of remote and hybrid working or calls for greater transparency around gender pay gap issues and modern slavery, stakeholders are increasingly seeking assurances that companies are treating their employees fairly and equitably.

All of these topics have legal implications. Are companies meeting minimum wage and entitlement requirements across different jurisdictions? How are businesses managing the transition to hybrid working? What workplace models best support net-zero goals, and what are their effects on health, safety, diversity and inclusion? Can pay incentives promote more sustainable workplace behaviours? These and other questions raise complex issues. Finding the right answers requires a holistic perspective. Our team of employment law professionals around the world can provide the insights you need.

Contact us

Barry Murphy

Barry Murphy

ESG Leader, Global Tax and Legal Services, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)771 5546419

Tony O'Malley

Tony O'Malley

Global Legal Leader, Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 408 480 894

Clare Pope

Clare Pope

ESG Legal Co-Leader, Global Legal Network, Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 402 794 090

Christiane Conrads

Christiane Conrads

ESG Legal Co-Leader, Global Legal Network, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal AG Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft, Germany

Tel: +49 160 9621 9612

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