Today marks the launch of the Greener Litigation Pledge, and I am delighted that Freshfields is one of the founding signatories.

The last 15 months has taught us how much it is possible to change the way we work. Now we have to rise to the challenge of taking everything we’ve learnt, and using it to build lasting change in the way we conduct litigation for our clients. Freshfields’ commitment is a further step in the firm's global environmental strategy, announced earlier this year, and follows the firm’s signature of the Green Pledge, an initiative led by the Campaign for Greener Arbitration.

Signatories to the Greener Litigation Pledge have committed to take active steps to reduce, with a view to minimising, the environmental impact of litigation in England and Wales. I have set out below the full text of the Pledge. If you or your organisation would like to find out more, and sign up to the Pledge, you can find all the details you need at www.greenerlitigation.org.

We are looking forward to working with all the signatories (and we hope there will be many more), our clients and everyone involved in the Greener Litigation Project to reduce the environmental impact of litigation in England and Wales.

Greener Litigation Pledge

I am pleased to confirm that Freshfields supports the Greener Litigation Pledge.

We recognise the importance of restricting global warming to 1.5°C, as identified by the 2015 Paris Agreement.  The UK Climate Change Act sets greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets to achieve national net zero by 2050.

As organisations involved in dispute resolution, we share an aspiration to reach the position where the most environmentally sustainable options in litigation become the default.

In signing the Greener Litigation Pledge, we commit to take active steps to reduce, with a view to minimising, the environmental impact of our practice in England and Wales, and to the reduction of our emissions in line with the objective of restricting global warming to 1.5°C, including by:

  1. Taking steps to reduce the environmental footprint and GHG emissions of our dispute resolution practice, including litigation we conduct in the courts and other dispute resolution fora;
  2. Engaging with the courts and other dispute resolution fora in which we operate to support changes to rules, procedures and practices to reduce the environmental impact of dispute resolution proceedings;
  3. While always maintaining and promoting the highest standards of justice and client service and complying with the procedural rules of the courts, actively promoting practical steps in litigation in which we are involved, which serve to reduce the environmental footprint and emissions arising from any dispute, including:
  • Corresponding electronically, unless hard copy is expressly required, while recognising that electronic communication has a carbon footprint and accordingly seeking to avoid unnecessary emails;
  • Limiting the printing of hard copy bundles and other documents wherever possible;
  • Promoting the use of electronic bundles for court hearings where possible, and liaising with our counterparts at opposing firms and the Court to seek agreement where necessary;
  • Walking, cycling or using public transport for journeys to court wherever feasible and appropriate;
  • Considering the appropriateness of witnesses giving evidence by video-link and, where appropriate, co-operating with our counterparts at opposing firms and the Court to implement the necessary procedures for giving evidence by video-link;
  • Whilst acknowledging the importance of in-person hearings to the administration of justice, actively considering for each hearing whether it is appropriate and amenable to being heard remotely, in whole or in part, including by telephone or by video-link, and, where it is, making that suggestion to the Court and other parties to the litigation;
  • Avoiding unnecessary travel in relation to a dispute in which we are acting;
  • Committing to the use of renewable energy sources wherever possible;
  • Using suppliers and service providers who are committed to reducing their carbon footprint wherever possible and appropriate.

4. Notifying clients and other parties, including solicitors, counsel, experts and opponents, involved in disputes of our support for the Greener Litigation Pledge, and encouraging their participation.