Disputes are a critical part of business life, yet they are rarely conducted in line with corporate Net Zero objectives. Our clients are demanding this has to change. Disputes typically involve a range of environmentally unfriendly practices from excessive paper use to extensive international travel.

The Campaign for Greener Arbitrations revealed that just under 20,000 trees would be required to offset the carbon emissions created by a single medium-sized arbitration. Considering that 7,222 institutional arbitrations were filed in 2019 alone, this climate impact is staggering. This impact is magnified as the same carbon-intense practices can be seen in litigation on a greater scale with 477,000 claims being lodged in the English County court across October to December 2019 alone.

On the other hand, the Campaign’s "Environmental Impact Assessment" found that using e-bundling and video-conferencing to eliminate paper bundles and reduce travel would conserve 51,704 kg of carbon per arbitration. This equates to ten times the size of the carbon footprint of every individual in the UK.

With growing pressure from investors, emerging focus from regulators, and continued social pressure, climate risk accountability can only grow. Companies will need to take a holistic approach to reducing emissions and greener dispute resolution is a logical place to start.

The upsurge of virtual hearings in response to Covid-19 and the greater reliance on technology at all stages of dispute proceedings has showcased that greener practices are not only achievable, but also commercially preferable. Not only will the transition away from physical documentation and in person hearings help achieve clients’ Net Zero targets, but it will significantly save on client costs and time.

Adopting the Green Arbitration/ Litigation Protocols will commit parties to greener practices across the lifecycle of the dispute. Alternatively, either the Low Carbon Arbitration Hearings clause or Avoidance of Excessive Paperwork clause could be introduced to tackle specific climate-adverse practices.

Clyde & Co is pleased to be helping clients adopt these dispute resolution clauses into their contracts and protocols. Please reach out to me or one of our climate change experts if these clauses are of interest.  

This post is part of a series of short updates summarising the precedent clauses drafted in the course of collaborative hackathons organised by The Chancery Lane Project.  Clyde & Co held its own hackathon in partnership with The Chancery Lane Project in July 2020, and has taken a leading role in the Big Hack, another hackathon organised centrally by The Chancery Lane Project throughout autumn 2020.