ESG: Environmental – Social – Governance

As ESG becomes a stronger strategic focus for companies, they are increasingly held to higher standards in terms of environmental awareness and social responsibility. There are many reasons for this: new legislative requirements in various countries, including Germany and at EU level; increased demands by investors on potential investments; and finally, the general public debate, which marks a change in societal attitudes.

As a result, small and large companies alike need to quickly ramp up their efforts in this area, setting up a system to ensure compliance with the relevant legal requirements as part of their corporate risk avoidance strategy. We help clients achieve this goal. ESG spans a broad range of topics and continuously raises numerous and novel legal issues. We help our clients implement a wide range of ESG measures and activities.

The role of sustainability in 
corporate governance and reporting

Results of a Gleiss Lutz study

Firmly establishing ESG as a part of corporate governance and meeting the additional sustainability reporting requirements is challenging – both legally and organisationally. The regulatory environment is complex and evolving.

That is what prompted Gleiss Lutz to survey a representative group of listed and non-listed companies on this issue with the aim of establishing more transparency. The results of the anonymous survey are summarised in this study. Please find the full study as a free download:


Climate Litigation

Climate protection is one of the most fundamental issues of our time. For decades, the central climate protection goals were mainly the subject of agreements under international law and as such were hardly enforced. One current development is that state courts, too, are obliging the respective national legislators and governments, and increasingly also private companies, to effectively pursue climate protection goals.

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Corporate Law

Investors and other stakeholders are attaching more and more value to social and environmental aspects and using their influence to make sure that companies take these aspects into account. Companies must therefore structure their corporate governance and decision-making processes in such a way that they can meet this expectation. Due to the increasing importance of non-financial reporting, companies are also required to create transparency with respect to environmental, social and governance aspects.

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Green Finance

The major social issues of climate change and sustainability have in the meantime become important components of our financing advice. Sustainable financing is how a company finances its response to the global issues of climate change and sustainability (ESG - environmental, social, and governance).

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Greenwashing & Prevention

The fight against human-induced climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing policy makers and society at large. Businesses increasingly recognise the responsibility they bear and are taking a variety of measures to both help overcome the climate crisis and operate more sustainably.

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Green Antitrust

Sustainability considerations meanwhile play an important role with respect to antitrust issues. Investments in a more sustainable economy can be significant. Companies are therefore often faced with the question of whether to undertake these investments on their own or to cooperate with other companies. Such cooperations are subject to antitrust law.

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Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains

When it enters into force on 1 January 2023, companies with at least 3,000 employees in Germany, and from 1 January 2024, with at least 1,000 employees in Germany, will be required to comply with specific due diligence obligations under the Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains (Lieferketten­sorgfaltspflichten­gesetz, “LkSG”). The aim is to avoid human rights and environmental risks, minimise them and prevent them from occurring or put a stop to them. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for companies in Germany that compete internationally.

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LkSG and Labour Law

The Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains (Lieferketten­sorgfaltspflichten­gesetz, “LkSG”) will enter into force on 1 January 2023. The LkSG will impose extensive “best effort” obligations on companies to protect human rights and environment-related legal standards in their supply chains, which also include their own corporate business area. The aim of the LkSG is to prevent, end or minimise existing human rights- and environment-related risks. The LkSG is highly relevant from a labour law

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ESG factors are becoming more and more important in M&A deals. Both the legislator as well as other stakeholders (investors, customers, NGOs, employees, the state and society at large) are placing stricter ESG requirements on companies. As a result, ESG aspects have now become significant value-creating factors in M&A deals as well.

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Systainability Goals in Board and Remuneration Systems

Since 1 January 2020, listed companies have been obliged to gear their remuneration structure towards the company’s “sustainable and long-term” development. The legal basis for this is the restated section 87(1), sentence 2 German Stock Corporation Act based on the Act Implementing the Second Shareholders’ Rights Directive (“ARUG II”).

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Public Law

Ecological conscience, social sustainability and human rights are increasingly becoming the yardsticks against which business finds itself measured. But this development is not new, especially in the context of public law and regulatory law. The challenges it brings with it are taking on a new relevance, however, with CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ESG (environmental social governance) now forming specific aspects of corporate strategy.

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Tax justice and transparency are pressing issues of our time and play a key role in clients’ social responsibility considerations. The cum-ex scandal and the Panama Papers leaks have cast a stark light on the tax strategies of multinational businesses, leading to closer scrutiny of non-financial reporting, transparency, sustainable governance and tax arrangements.

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