Investors are increasingly focussed on how companies address modern slavery and wider human rights issues when making investment decisions.  Despite this, many UK companies are failing to adequately report on, and take sufficient steps to eradicate, modern slavery within their businesses and supply chains, according to the Financial Reporting Council’s (the “FRC“) recently published Modern Slavery Reporting Practices in the UK Report (the “Report”).

The Report, which analysed the reporting practices of 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market, highlighted that the majority of companies are failing to disclose sufficient information to enable stakeholders to make informed decisions about companies’ compliance with modern slavery legislation.  Such shortcomings in the quality of companies’ modern slavery reporting presents a number of compliance, reputational and financial risks to companies.

Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: the Financial Reporting Council identifies failings in UK companies’ modern slavery reporting

Many UK companies will soon be mandated to make TCFD-aligned disclosures. This follows the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) introduction of the Listing Rules (Disclosure of Climate-Related Financial Information) Instrument in December 2020, which requires companies with a UK premium listing to disclose on a comply-or-explain basis against the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations in their annual reports. The FCA and UK Government have held consultations on extending this requirement to standard-listed and large private companies.

To help companies comply with these disclosure requirements, the Financial Reporting Council’s Financial Reporting Lab (the ‘Lab‘) has recently published a ‘TCFD: ahead of mandatory reporting’ report (the ‘Report‘), which provides examples of good disclosure practices by companies that have already voluntarily adopted the TCFD framework. The Report refers to research recently conducted by the Alliance Manchester Business School on the approaches companies have taken to conducting climate-related scenario analysis (the ‘Research‘), which is required in order to comply with the TCFD recommendations. Together, the Report and the Research provide holistic practical advice for companies on making TCFD-aligned disclosures, which is also relevant for non UK based companies who are considering how best to address the TCFD recommendations.

Continue Reading TCFD: Preparing for Mandatory Reporting

In a significant development in the UK government’s drive towards “greening” the financial system, as part of the transition to a net zero carbon economy, HM Treasury published, on 18 October 2021, a policy paper entitled “Greening Finance: A Roadmap to Sustainable Investing” (the “Roadmap“).  The Government’s Green Finance Strategy envisages three phases:

  1. Informing investors and consumers: Ensuring that decision-useful information on sustainability is available to financial decision-makers;
  2. Acting on the information: Mainstreaming sustainability considerations into business and financial decisions; and
  3. Shifting financial flows: Shifting capital to align with a net zero and nature positive economy.

The Roadmap focusses on delivering the first phase through the introduction of economy-wide Sustainable Disclosure Requirements (SDRs).  The SDRs aim to bring together existing and new sustainability disclosure requirements under one integrated framework for corporates, asset managers and asset owners, and creators of investment products.

But what obligations will these organisations be subject to under the new SDRs, and how can they best prepare themselves to comply with such obligations?

Continue Reading HM Treasury Publishes Its UK Sustainable Finance Roadmap

As interest in, and demand for, sustainable goods and services continue to increase rapidly, so too has the volume of statements, assertions and claims, often in the context of advertising, regarding the sustainability credentials of those goods and services.

In a further sign of the continued trend towards stricter regulation, and enforcement, in the context of so-called “greenwashing”, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently published its “Green Claims Code” (the “Code“), a guidance note for businesses on making environmental claims when advertising goods and services in the UK.

Continue Reading The UK’s CMA Publishes Guidance on Environmental Claims Used in Advertising

On 8 April 2021, we discussed in our blog post the UK government’s consultation on the draft climate risk regulations under the Pension Schemes Act 2021. The government has recently published a response to the draft regulations, the finalised regulations and the accompanying statutory guidance. The new regulations will apply to trustees of larger

As part of national plans to cut carbon emissions, the UK Cabinet Office released a Procurement Policy Note on 5 June 2021 (“PPN 06/21“, or the “PPN“): this mandates the assessment of Carbon Reduction Plans by UK central government departments as part of the procurement of large public contracts.

Key aspects of the Public Procurement Notice

  • UK Procurement Policy Note 06/21 requires a bidder for large public contracts (exceeding £5 million per annum) to produce a Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP) setting out how it intends to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by the year 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
  • This relates to regulated contracts for goods, services and/or works awarded by UK central government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.
  • This will apply to procurement processes commenced on or after 30 September 2021 – bidders should take steps now to prepare for compliance, which might require new data collection and reporting procedures.


Continue Reading ESG and UK Public Procurement: Carbon Reduction Requirements

Section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA 2015) requires large businesses to produce a statement each year setting out the steps they have taken to ensure that their business and supply chains are slavery free, or a statement that they have taken no steps to do this. Legislative reform of some kind has been some time in the offing, particularly since the Government’s response in September last year to the 2019 “Transparency in supply chains consultation” (see our previous Legal Update).

Continue Reading UK Modern Slavery – a Bill to prohibit the “falsification” of slavery and human trafficking statements

The UK government has published a response to its January 2021 consultation on the new climate risk-related governance and reporting requirements that will apply to trustees of larger occupational pension schemes from 1 October 2021. The government has also published the finalised regulations and accompanying statutory guidance.

The requirements under the regulations are essentially unchanged from the consultation version – the changes that have been made are largely technical and are designed to clarify aspects of the requirements. Changes have also been made to the statutory guidance to provide further clarity and support for trustees.

Continue reading for our discussion on the governance and reporting requirements.

Continue Reading UK Climate change risk — new pension scheme trustee duties confirmed

On May 17-19, 2021, Risk.net hosted their ESG and Sustainable Investing conference, bringing together 350 senior directors to explore how ESG principles and sustainable investing will re-shape the global financial market. Speaking on a panel discussing stewardship, fiduciary duty and shareholder engagement – “Using investor influence for a positive, transformational change” – Mark Manning, the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) sustainable finance technical specialist, is reported to have said that “an investor either needs to inject capital into new, purposeful and impactful projects, or use active-investor stewardship and influence to drive meaningful change in investing companies’ strategies”.

Continue reading for more details and analysis regarding stewardship and sustainable investing.

Continue Reading Investment Stewardship in the UK: The Regulatory Perspective

On March 10, 2021, the UK government concluded its public consultation on climate risk regulations under the Pension Schemes Act 2021. The government is now analyzing public feedback and preparing consultation conclusions.

In a new podcast, Mayer Brown Counsel Beth Brown provides background on the Pension Schemes Act 2021 and outlines the regulations in the