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James Taylor is a partner in the Banking & Finance practice of the London office. James’ practice focuses on public and private offerings of debt and equity-linked securities, advising issuers and underwriters on the standalone issue and offering of retail and wholesale medium term notes, commercial paper, certificates of deposit, warrants, convertible and exchangeable bonds and covered bonds, as well as the establishment and update of platforms for the issuance of multiple types of securities, the structuring of liability management transactions and the provision of ongoing advice on securities laws, corporate governance and stock exchange requirements related to them.

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On 20 December 2023, the Council of the EU reached an agreement on its negotiating mandate on a proposal for a regulation on ESG ratings  (the “Proposed EU Regulation“). This builds on the European Commission’s proposal, which was published on 13 June 2023.

The EU’s desire to regulate ESG rating agencies is a response to increasing concerns from a variety of stakeholders about the reliability, comparability and transparency of ESG ratings and the data behind these ratings.Continue Reading Council of the EU agrees on proposal to regulate ESG ratings providers

On 28 November 2023, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA“) published its “Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (“SDR“) and investment labels” policy statement (PS23/16) (the “Policy Statement“). The Policy Statement introduces a set of new rules aimed at tackling greenwashing, including investment product sustainability labels and restrictions on how terms

The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD“) entered into force on 5 January 2023 and the associated European Sustainability Reporting Standards (“ESRS“) were adopted by the European Commission on 31 July 2023. Together, the CSRD and ESRS create detailed sustainability reporting requirements that will apply to a significant number of EU and non-EU companies and substantially increase the scope of their sustainability reporting.

Application of the rules is now imminent and, for some, CSRD reporting periods will begin from 1 January 2024.

In this update, we take a look at the implications of the CSRD for non-EU companies and what companies can do to prepare.Continue Reading The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive is upon us – what non-EU companies should know and do

On 11 July 2023, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published a public statement on sustainability disclosure in prospectuses, available here: ESMA32-1399193447-441 Statement on sustainability disclosure in prospectuses (europa.eu).

The statement is addressed to the National Competent Authorities (NCAs) to promote coordinated action regarding sustainability-related disclosure included in prospectuses under current legislation. While the statement is addressed to NCAs, ESMA have said that its contents should be taken into account by issuers and advisers when drawing up a Prospectus Regulation (PR) compliant prospectus that contains sustainability-related disclosure.

Whilst there is little in the way of deviation from best practice here, the statement reflects the enhanced focus of ESMA and NCAs on ESG disclosure and is likely to result in additional commentary from NCAs during the prospectus approval process.

A summary of some of the key takeaways is included below.Continue Reading ESMA release Public Statement on Sustainability Disclosures in Prospectuses

The risk of an accusation of “greenwashing” is now an important concern for many companies. Greenwashing is an ill-defined concept but, nevertheless, is increasingly a source of litigation and regulatory scrutiny – with more of both expected. It carries with it reputational, regulatory and litigation risks for which companies should be prepared. Whilst the risks are always context specific – varying by jurisdiction, industry

On 30 March 2023, the UK Government published an updated Green Finance Strategy (the “Strategy“). The Strategy, which updates the UK’s 2019 Green Finance Strategy, outlines how “continued UK leadership on green finance will cement the UK’s place at the forefront of this growing global market, and how we will mobilise the investment needed to meet our climate and nature objectives“.Continue Reading The future of green finance in the UK: UK Government publishes updated Green Finance Strategy

On 28 February 2023, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the creation of the European Green Bond Standard (“EU GBS“).Continue Reading Alert – Council of the EU and European Parliament reach provisional agreement on European Green Bond Standard

On 10 November 2022, the EU Parliament adopted the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD“). The EU Council is expected to adopt the CSRD on 28 November 2022, after which it will be published in the Official Journal. The CSRD will then enter into force 20 days after publication and EU member states will have 18

A lot can happen in ESG in three days. By Wednesday last week, there were three important developments in the world of ESG and sustainable finance from the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA”), the International Capital Markets Association (“ICMA”) and the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). Read more

Disclosure of information on the ESG-related risks facing financial institutions is widely recognised as a vital tool to promoting market discipline.  It enables stakeholders to assess the risks presented to financial institutions by issues such as climate change, social and governance risks, whilst also allowing stakeholders to review the sustainable finance strategies of financial institutions.  In light of this, governments are increasingly introducing different mandatory ESG-related reporting requirements for financial institutions, such as TCFD-aligned reporting requirements (for further information on TCFD-aligned reporting requirements, please see our previous blog posts here and here).

Adding to the plethora of existing ESG-related reporting requirements, on 24 January 2022, the European Banking Authority (“EBA“) published its final draft implementing technical standards on Pillar 3 disclosures on ESG risks (the “Final Draft ITS“).  The Final Draft ITS sets out mandatory templates, tables and instructions that supplement the EBA’s ‘Pillar 3 package’ prudential reporting requirements (the “Reporting Requirements“), which certain EU-based financial institutions will be required to comply with under the Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 575/2013) (the “CRR“).Continue Reading The European Banking Authority publishes new ESG reporting requirements