Woodsford is a leading ESG, access to justice and litigation finance business.
What happens when catastrophic breakdowns in ESG cause loss to a company’s customers or its shareholders? How are ESG wrongdoers held to account? How do we change the behaviour of big businesses to the benefit of wider society?
ESG is an acronym for the wide range of Environmental, Social, and Governance standards that companies now increasingly say that they comply with, or which they are otherwise legally required to comply with. Companies make ESG promises, and otherwise have ESG obligations to a variety of stakeholders, including their investors, their customers, their regulators and the wider community in which they operate.
Banks promise their regulators (and their investors) that they don’t engage in money laundering or terrorist financing. Fashion brands promise their customers (and, again, their investors) that their supply chains use sustainable materials and a properly paid workforce. Technology brands promise all of us that the prices we pay for their ubiquitous products are fair and competitive and that they respect the intellectual property rights of the (typically smaller) businesses they engage with.
Delivering compensation and holding wrongdoers to account
When a company fails to comply with its ESG obligations and causes loss or damage to one or more categories of its stakeholders, those wronged stakeholders – the shareholders who invested based on promises that turned out to be untrue – the customers who have been ripped off – the inventor whose intellectual property rights are being infringed – could potentially engage with the company on an escalated and often collective basis, up to and including litigation. They will have a good legal case, and they will almost always have at least two key motivations to litigate. First, to seek compensation. Second, to hold the wrongdoers to account.
But there is often a wide gulf for many stakeholders between having good reasons and motivations to engage (often collectively) on the one hand, and having the practical ability to do so, on the other.
Woodsford’s ESG business is about helping stakeholders bridge that gulf. We do that in two key ways:
First, we inform and organise stakeholders:
ESG claimants will often be in large disparate groups that lack any coordination. Individuals or businesses may not even be aware that they have been wronged, for example they might be customers who don’t know that they have been unfairly overcharged for goods or services. And even if they are aware that they have been wronged, for example investors whose investments have lost value due to ESG breakdowns, they won’t necessarily know how to go about achieving redress as part of a wider group or may not have the resources to do so.
We solve these problems, in liaison with expert law firms and other professionals.
Through the ground-breaking use of law, technology and finance, we are global leaders in bringing together large groups of stakeholders, enabling them to seek accountability and collectively achieve redress in a simple, transparent and risk-free manner.
Second, we take all the financial risk:
Woodsford’s remuneration is entirely contingent upon success. We provide the required funding for the legal and other costs of engagement, up to and including litigation. We also provide claimants with indemnities against adverse costs consequences.
The broad range of ESG claims we support
You can view detailed case studies of a number of our ESG engagements here. Set out below are just some examples of the actions we are involved in around the world.
The lawyers and other professionals at Woodsford are in the vanguard of ESG accountability. The examples above illustrate the breadth and variety of ESG engagements we support and the efforts we will go to in holding big business to account; helping deliver recompense to those directly impacted and changing behaviours to the benefit of wider society.
For more information or to discuss joining one of our ESGs claims, please contact Clare Owen.