Translate Lex Sustineo

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Managing Lender Liability in Equator Principles Implementation - Regulatory Offences

The Equator Principles III ("EP III") states that: "As financiers and advisors, we work in partnership with our clients to identify, assess, and manage environmental and social risks and impacts in a structured way, on an ongoing basis." It is well known that lender liability for environmental and social matters may arise from operational or managerial control by a lender over a project, or where a lender aids and abets regulatory offences of their borrowers. This article considers the risks associated with regulatory prosecutions of an Equator Principles Financial Institution (EPFI), acting as auditors and possibly co-managers of environmental and social risk management of their borrowers. We also consider management strategies, including the role of legal professional privilege. This article is part three of a three part look at managing lender liability in EP implementation.  The first article looked at post-loan legacy liabilities, and the second at third party beneficiary rights in the EP context.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Managing Lender Liability in Equator Principles Implementation - Third Party Beneficiary Rights in Contract Law

I read an interesting and provocative journal article by Marissa Marco, published in the Fordham International Law Journal in 2011, entitled "Accountability in International Project Finance: The Equator Principles and the Creation of Third-Party Beneficiary Status for Project-Affected Communities".  The article discusses the law on third party beneficiary rights under US contract law and considers whether the provisions of the Equator Principles (EP) relating to Affected Communities might create enforceable rights for those communities under those principles.

This article will discuss this issue and suggest a risk management strategy for EP Financial Institutions (EPFI - i.e. EP signatories) addressing and managing such risks in Equator Principles implementation.

Managing Lender Liability in Equator Principles Implementation - Legacy Liabilities (Post-Loan following Repayment or Default)

This post will consider a rather controversial topic - the possible existence of liabilities linked to Equator Principles (EP) implementation that may extend beyond the life of the underlying loan or activity to which the EP were originally applied.

The purpose will be to consider whether there are plausible legacy liability risks affecting EP implementation and, if so, how such risks could be managed by Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFI) before they materialize.

Please note that, as this is a blog post, the analysis is high level and intended to raise points for reflection and thought rather than to be an exhaustive review of the law on these subjects. Hopefully it raises some useful considerations and I am very much open to comment (and criticism) of the topic and ideas put forward. The goal is to generate a dialogue that may help push the boundaries of our understanding of these issues.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New York Times: U.S. Retailers See Big Risk in Safety Plan for Factories in Bangladesh

The New York Times reports that American retailers remain sharply opposed to joining an international plan to improve safety conditions at garment factories in Bangladesh as their European counterparts and consumer and labor groups dismiss the companies’ concerns about legal liability. Full article here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Final Equator Principles III and the August 2012 Draft - What are the differences?

Some of the main differences are:

1. Elimination of the High Income OECD threshold for application of the IFC Performance Standards in the final version. Now there is a concept of "Designated Countries" which basically has the same effect but is not based on high income status;

2. Only a summary of an ESIA rather than full disclosure of the ESIA and ESMP is required in the final version;

3. In the final version only a "majority" of a corporate loan meeting the appropriate thresholds must be tied to a project, that caveat wasn't in the draft;

4. New emphasis in principle 3 that compliance with relevant host country laws, regulations and permits are to be address "in the first instance" in Assessments;

5. Some changes to Appendix B setting out EPFI reporting requirements;

6. More specific reference to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights due diligence requirement.

Update: Equator Principles III is approved and launched - new trends and a strategy rethink

The Equator Principles (EP) is an agreement amongst 76 global financial institutions (known as EP Financial Institutions or "EPFI") to apply environmental and social standards to certain investment decisions. The third iteration of the EP (EP III) was released on May 14, 2013 and will take effect (with certain transition allowances) on June 4, 2013.

The release of EP III follows a major revision of the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental & Social Sustainability in 2012 (IFC Performance Standards), a set of guidelines that is incorporated by reference into the EP framework. Together, these changes mark an important evolution in best practice in environmental and social risk management of particular importance for both bankers and those seeking access to capital.

This article reviews the new ground rules of environmental and social risk management and considers some new trends that may begin to emerge. We also consider what risks and opportunities arise from these developments that should be considered by both financiers and those seeking finance who must comply with these frameworks to meet their business goals.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Anna Kirkpatrick: Kiobel v Shell - What the decision says and what it left out

Anna Kirkpatrick of Norton Rose in London England discusses the recent US Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v. Shell, and the implications of the decision for business and human rights expectations and litigation in the United States. 
This decision is particularly of interest for Equator Principles (EP) financings in light of the human rights due diligence requirements of the new IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability, incorporated by reference into the EP.

Read on for Anna's discussion of what the decision says and what remains to be determined in US law.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reflections on Migrant Labour in China - Application of IFC Performance Standards and Equator Principles

Reading a recent blog post on migrant workers in China made me reflect on the implications for Labour and Working Conditions requirements of the Equator Principles. My blog entry considers what the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability say about the topic.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Equator Principles in Brazilian Transactions

An excellent article by Brazilian lawyers Antonio Mazzuco and Jorge Khauaja published in the International Financial Law Review. The authors see an inevitable trend towards greater adoption of EP-like environmental and social standards, by Brazilian financial institution and government.  The article also touches on the interrelationship between environmental and social standards like the EP and legal obligations on the same topics.