The Chancery Lane Project: “Change the Precedent, Change the World”

The Chancery Lane Project has released the second edition of ‘The Climate Contract Playbook’ which is set to progress climate action by creating the legal conditions to achieve net zero. 

Since its establishment in July 2019, The Chancery Lane Project has unified 400 solicitors, barristers and academics from 115 different organisations who are collaborating to rewire laws and contracts to help lawyers around the world fight climate change. This ground-breaking alliance of lawyers working pro bono aims to create the legal conditions needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.  

Having already released four publications, including The Climate Contract Playbook, Green Papers of Model Laws (released in February), the release of The Climate Contract Playbook Second Edition and a Glossary of climate related definitions yesterday marks a key next step in their operations. Prioritising the importance of creating a cleaner future for the next generation, each clause has been named after a child, adding a personal, and indeed poignant, aspect to these new guidelines. 

Taking the time to make a difference

Recognising the unique position lawyers are in to write contracts and laws that influence decisions made by individuals and businesses, The Chancery Lane Project is utilising this to provide innovative solutions to the climate crisis. Lawyers have donated a staggering 5,000 plus hours in developing these clauses, and continue to do so in this week’s virtual “hackathon” as part of London Climate Action Week.

Becky Clissmann, Senior Editor in the Practical Law Environment team at Thomson Reuters and a member of The Chancery Lane Project Year Steering Committee said:

Since TCLP’s inception last year, there has been a huge upsurge of interest in climate conscious drafting.  TCLP’s online community has responded by drafting a further 13 new precedents and 23 climate definitions.  The legal community is realising that the power to tackle climate change is in our hands and lawyers across a range of sectors are taking action by using TCLP precedents to address climate risks in their agreements.”

Drafted to shift legal norms towards climate conscious drafting, the second edition of the Playbook adds to the 16 precedent clauses from the first Playbook. These include:

  • climate purposed non-disclosure terms;
  • a green Shareholders Agreement;
  • climate and net zero purposed Due Diligence questions; and
  • clauses covering risk sharing, banking and finance, equity, employment, construction, land and real estate.

The glossary provides climate definitions to accelerate drafting, including carbon budget, carbon offsetting, carbon insetting, carbon neutral, carbon negative, carbon reporting, GHGs, Science-Based Targets and an ideas pipeline of 27 additional definitions to be drafted.

Marking the beginning 

Ellie Mulholland, Director of the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative and member of The Chancery Lane Project Year Steering Committee said:

I’ve heard it said that lawyers can save the world. I wouldn’t go that far. But I am absolutely certain that we will not prevent catastrophic climate change without lawyers taking a lead role in their day-to-day practice and working collaboratively on practical solutions like the TCLP’s climate contract Playbooks.”

The first editions have been downloaded over 12,000 times and this is just the beginning. The Chancery Lane Project aims to inspire lawyers in their drafting, and hopes it will encourage them to champion the clauses and amplify their impact with colleagues and clients to integrate them within their daily practice.

As their press release states, “This is key to accelerating the transition to Net Zero. The clock is ticking on climate change. There is much left to do, but if the legal community redoubles its efforts to work together in an aligned way, we can achieve anything.”

Matthew Gingell, General Counsel at Oxygen House Group and chair of The Chancery Lane Project steering group said:

“2020, has, understandably, not been the year of clarity and action on climate change that we all hoped and the  path for the next generation seems less clear than ever. But history reminds us that with shared purpose and working together we can navigate uncertainty, whatever its nature.  As such I am positive that the legal profession can and will help mitigate climate change through collaborative drafting. To put it simply if we Change the Precedent, we can Change the World.”   

Making a change 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced last year that we have 11 years to halt the progress of the climate crisis before it is too late. The project aims to inspire, governments, companies across all sectors and industries, and individuals to challenge the status quo and facilitate a transition to a net zero way of living.

These publications are the start of our journey. We urge all lawyers to amplify the impact of The Chancery Lane Project by using these clauses where they meet the needs of the situation and the goals of their clients and communities.”

stated a press release from the project

The Playbook is free to download here. For more information please see here. If you are a lawyer seeking to volunteer your time, please visit our website or contact jenni@chancerylaneproject.org.

Maisie Law

Maisie Law is Editor-in-Chief here at CleanTech News. Maisie is keen to start making an impact on the developing CleanTech revolution by combining her interests in sustainable development and writing. Through her legal background, Maisie is acutely aware of the political and policy changes that need to be made to drive the earth towards carbon net zero. Equally as crucial to our mission, and the focus at CleanTech News is the sustainable achievements of those from start-ups to corporates, as she aims to champion and provide a platform to celebrate carbon reduction.