This event has already taken place

Looking back at a successful event ESG: Sense & Sustainability, hosted together with IBJ-IJE (Instituut voor bedrijfsjuristen - Institut des juristes d'entreprise), during which Vanessa Marquette, Mathias Hendrickx and Clémence Van Muylder held a presentation on:

  • Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence,
  • Civil liability of directors for failure to act on environmental matters, and the
  • criminal angle of ESG: how the ESG trend influences the behavior of prosecuting authorities.

The first part of the seminar was dedicated to a presentation on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD). Mathias Hendrickx (Senior Associate from our Corporate/M&A practice group) discussed the recent Proposal for an EU directive on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability, and its interaction with other ESG related European legislation. He covered the benefits of CSDD for citizens, for companies and other stakeholders.

Next, Vanessa Marquette (Partner in our Banking & Finance practice group) discussed the Civil liability of directors for failure to act against climate change. Vanessa gave a preview of a soon to be published article she co-authored with Anne-Sophie Pijcke to be published in the Liber Amicorum Didier Willermain. Vanessa first set the scene by touching upon the trend of emerging ESG legislation and climate litigation. Next on the agenda was an evaluation how director’s liability for a failure to act upon climate change might be triggered under the Belgian Companies and Associations Code (BCAC), the Code of Economic Law and via extra contractual liability (article 1382 civil Code). To wrap up a brief review was shared how the draft Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence might impact the earlier analysis.

After that, the third presentation of the day was by given by Clémence Van Muylder (Senior Associate in our Litigation & Risk Management practice group) on ESG – the criminal angle: how the ESG trend influences the behaviour of prosecuting authorities? Clémence discussed how criminal authorities have started to apprehend the ESG trend, the risks of greenwashing (focusing on the “E” of ESG) and the risk to resort to chains of subcontractors (focusing on the “S” of ESG”). Practical takeaways for directors and in-house legal department formed the recurring theme throughout her presentation.

After the presentations, Vanessa Marquette and Thomas Lenné, Partner in our Corporate/M&A practice group, moderated a Panel Discussion with IBJ/IJE-member guest speakers Anneleen Straetemans (Global Head of Legal & Corporate Affairs, AB InBev), Cristina Rossi (Senior Legal Counsel, Coca-Cola Company) and Nadia Adjeroun (Legal Counsel Sustainable Finance – ESG, Belfius) to learn how different industries implement ESG strategies in their companies. We discussed that there is a crucial role to play for company lawyers to translate these ESG rules and regulations to make a difference for their organisation’s ambitions and to make an impact beyond their company. The panel discussion was moderated by Vanessa Marquette and Thomas Lenné (Partner in our Corporate/M&A practice group).

The main take away of the panel discussion was that the role of inhouse counsel is and will be increasingly important to help companies and their boards of directors navigate successfully through the ESG landscape.