Wind Power Overtakes Coal in Europe

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Rosa Espin

Last year, 86 % of the 24.5 GW of new generating capacity installed in the EU came from renewable energy sources, specifically from wind, solar, biomass and hydro, breaking the previous record of 79% in 2014. This new water mark makes clear that the EU is seeking to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuel plants with new forms of renewable energy in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

For the first time, wind overtake coal in terms of capacity as wind energy was the most installed power generation source in 2016, representing a 51 % of all the new installed power capacity of the EU. Of the new 12.5 GW of wind power, 10.9 GW was installed onshore while 1.6 GW added offshore.

According to figures published by the WindEurope trade group, wind energy grew 8 percent in 2016 reaching 153.7 GW and now accounts for 17% of Europe’s total installed power generation capacity. Only natural gas generation, with 186 GW of capacity, remains above wind. Continue Reading

China Will Issue “Green Certificates” for Renewable Energy

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies & Andrew Westgate

China’s National Development and Reform Commissions (NDRC) – the country’s chief economic planning body – announced that a “green certificates” program for solar and wind power will be launched beginning on July 1, 2017. The certificates issued by the program will be similar to the Renewable Energy Credits issued in the United States, and will each represent 1MW of electricity output from solar or wind generation.  The program will be initiated on a voluntary basis at first, and is expected to become mandatory in 2018.  Continue Reading

Reserving Privilege for the Few: The High Court Confirms the Narrow Interpretation of “Client” for the Purposes of Legal Advice Privilege

Posted in Dispute Resolution

By Oliver Browne and Daniel Smith

Following Three Rivers (No 5) [2003] EWCA Civ 474, the High Court has held that notes of interviews of employees, prepared as part of certain internal investigations by a bank’s solicitors, for the purpose of enabling the bank to seek and receive legal advice are not protected by legal advice privilege. Central to the ruling was the finding that relevant employees did not fall within the definition of the “client” for legal advice privilege purposes. The Court also confirmed that English privilege rules should be applied in cases before the English court so that, even though the interview notes were likely to have been privileged as a matter of US law, they were not privileged in English proceedings.

The decision follows the recent judgment in Astex Therapeutics Ltd v Astrazeneca AB [2016] EWHC 2759 (Ch) in which Chief Master Marsh held that certain employees were not part of the “client” for legal advice privilege purposes, but with only a brief analysis on the point. In the present decision, Mr Justice Hildyard considered the question in much greater detail. Continue Reading

Modern Industrial Strategy: Will the Environment Get Left Behind?

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a Green Paper on 23 January 2017, setting out the building blocks for the UK’s modern industrial strategy. Described by Theresa May as a “critical part” of the plan for post-Brexit Britain, the implementation of this strategy will have important policy ramifications, in particular, for the environment.

Overview of the Green Paper

Key points to note from the Green Paper include:

  • a consultation is launched which invites a review of the costs of achieving the UK’s decarbonisation goals and how to best support business energy efficiency (the consultation will close on 17 April 2017);
  • a review of the case for a new research institution on battery technology, energy storage and grid technology, will be undertaken, and findings will be released in early 2017 and an emissions reductions plan is expected in February 2017;
  • the government’s new approach to industrial strategy based on ten pillars will focus on ensuring that the UK economy benefits from the transition to a low-carbon economy by delivering affordable energy and clean growth; and
  • there will be a focus on improving the UK’s energy, transport, water and flood defence infrastructure.

Continue Reading

Italian Constitutional Court Publishes Grounds of its Decision on the Constitutional Legitimacy of the “Spalma-Incentivi” Decree

Posted in Environment, Uncategorized

By Cesare Milani

On December 7, 2016, the Italian Constitutional Court (the Constitutional Court) rejected on appeal the claim that the new state incentives scheme, pursuant to the Italian Law Decree no. 91, dated June 24, 2014, (the Decree), which applies retrospectively to the renewable energy sector, was unconstitutional. (Please see recent blog for more information.)

On January 25, 2017, the full text, outlining the rationale of the judge’s decision was published. We have summarised the following key points from the decision below:

Retroactive changes in the legislation and long term contractual relationships

Concerns over the constitutional legitimacy of the Decree were predominantly based, on the retrospective effect of the feed-in tariff (FITs) cuts pursuant to the Decree. Continue Reading

The Precarious Nature of Trust Assets at Home and Abroad

Posted in Dispute Resolution

By Daniel Smith

In Akers (and others) v. Samba Financial Group [2017] UKSC 6, the UK Supreme Court has confirmed the limited nature of British insolvency officer-holders’ ability to void dispositions of a company’s assets held on trust.  The Supreme Court also highlighted the potential dangers inherent in holding on trust assets located in jurisdictions which do not recognise common law trusts.

The case related to the scope of the avoidance provisions in section 127 Insolvency Act 1986 (“s127”), and to conflict of laws rules in relation to trust-based claims against third parties, in particular the application of the lex situs rule as recognised in Macmillan Inc v. Bishopsgate Investment Trust (No 3) [1996] 1 WLR 387.  The decision will be of relevance to (a) insolvency practitioners, both in the UK or in jurisdictions with avoidance provisions similar to s127, and those dealing with them in relation to trust assets located anywhere in the world; and (b) anyone dealing with trust assets which may under English law be situated in non-common law jurisdictions. Continue Reading

Competition Appeal Tribunal Refuses Interim Relief in Pharma Pricing Case

Posted in Dispute Resolution

By Jonathan Parker, Hanna Roos, Hayley Pizzey and James Fagan

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (the CAT) in the UK heard on 17 January 2017 an application by Flynn Pharma Ltd and Flynn Pharma (Holdings) Ltd (together Flynn) to suspend the Competition and Markets Authority’s (the CMA) direction to reduce the price of an epilepsy drug. The CMA had given the direction as part of its unfair pricing decision in December 2016. In its judgment on 19 January 2017, the CAT dismissed the interim application.

The case is significant because it concerns the first CMA decision on excessive pricing, and a substantial fine of £90 million by the CMA for an alleged abuse of a dominant market position by Flynn and Pfizer Ltd and Pfizer Inc. (together Pfizer). The interim relief judgment also highlights the CAT’s focus on the public health impact when assessing the need for interim relief. Flynn and Pfizer are expected to file their appeal of the CMA’s December decision by 7 February 2017, and the CAT’s determination of their appeal is anticipated later this year. Continue Reading

Will China Become the Global Leader on Climate Change?

Posted in Environment

By Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate 

Climate change has become a key concern for China in recent years, as evidenced by its pledge to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60% from 2015 levels by 2030. As we have previously written, it has also become a leader in the emerging field of green finance, and the world leader in installing renewable energy capacity. Moreover, climate change has become one of the few areas in which China has taken an active role on the international stage, promoting green finance at the G20 summit in Hangzhou last year, and joining the United States in championing the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, climate change continues to be highly controversial in the US, and the future of the Clean Power Plan – the Obama administration’s primary domestic policy to address it – remains uncertain. President Donald Trump, who took office on January 20, 2017, has expressed skepticism regarding climate change, and has stated that he will seek to repeal the Clean Power Plan. In the international arena, President Trump has also vowed to withdraw from the Paris Agreement (though he has more recently said he has an open mind towards the agreement). Continue Reading

Meeting Your Competitors – Think Before You Speak!

Posted in EU and Competition

By Hayley Pizzey

On 19 December 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued two competition law infringement decisions in its galvanised steel tanks investigation. Cylindrical galvanised steel tanks store water in large buildings and supply the water for fire sprinkler systems.

The first decision relates to a cartel (the main cartel). The second decision relates to an exchange, in a single meeting, of price sensitive information between competitors.

The information exchange decision and subsequent fine imposed on Balmoral Tanks Ltd (Balmoral) highlights the CMA’s increased focus on enforcing competition law infringements. The decision also flags to businesses the importance of being cautious when communicating (in any format) with competitors. Continue Reading