The Legal 500 Green Guide: United Kingdom 2023

United Kingdom 2023


Market overview

Welcome to the inaugural United Kingdom Green Guide. 

In the UK, Brexit signalled a departure from the EU’s ESG regulations, leading to valid concerns that the country will fall short in the global playing field, and as of 2022, there is no single ESG law or regulation in the UK.

Nonetheless, recent implementation of the UK Green Taxonomy and the upcoming Sustainable Disclosure Requirements indicate a standardisation of ESG regulations in the UK market, and more established requirements for large companies, asset managers and asset owners. 

The UK legal market is seeing higher levels of scrutiny of soft regulation, particularly in terms of advertising, placing greenwashing claims high on the agenda and revealing the importance of lawyers’ expertise as a preventative measure. This trend is also manifest in higher expectations from clients demanding law firms to report on a variety of metrics including carbon usage. 

Putin’s war in Ukraine has caused an energy crisis across most of Europe, and in the UK specifically it is a main driver of the cost-of-living crisis with an estimated 6.7 million UK households now living in fuel poverty. Despite scepticism as to whether the Russian invasion in Ukraine will spur on the green transition or bring it to a standstill, it has undeniably put a spotlight on the dangers of oil and gas dependency across Europe and the world as a whole. The emerging UK green hydrogen market and other innovative renewable and low carbon technologies increasingly require legal support at all stages of development. 

COP26 outcomes indicate the necessity for lawyers across practice areas to have a foundational knowledge of environmental regulations and ESG. This is something we are already seeing in the UK market with most featured law firms for the UK Green Guide drawing on expertise from a multidisciplinary team of ESG experts for both client-facing work, and internal best practices. Our research also reveals the recent eruption of Net Zero commitments amongst UK law firms, something we look forward to tracking across future editions of our UK Green Guide. 

We hope you find this guide to some of the key firms engaging with sustainability within the UK useful, and we look forward to continually evolving our coverage as the market develops. 

Anna Baubock
Anna Bauböck | Editor
Olivia Hart | Senior researcher