2023 IECL annual lecture with Umakanth Varottil

Umakanth Varottil

On 23 May 2023, the Institute for European and Comparative Law (IECL) hosted its second Annual Lecture, on the topic of "The Role of Corporate Governance in Addressing Climate Risk: Global and Asian Perspectives" given by Associate Professor Umakanth Varottil, of the National University of Singapore. The lecture ranged widely across jurisdictions and mechanisms by which the policy and law of individual states is being put towards, successfully or not, the re-arrangement of corporate priorities towards protecting the environment and particularly, against climate change. The fascinating lecture covered everything from substantive obligations, such as implicit or explicit requirements in respect of director duties, through to mechanisms for enforcement, such as the shareholder derivative actions and how climate risks are disclosable. One of the points of promise has been the effectiveness of regulatory action rather than shareholder action, but the field is developing rapidly. The talk even covered English and Welsh cases handed down in the weeks preceeding the lecture, and an academic paper published providing statistical evidence of the effect on the shareprice of a company when even ultimately unsuccessful litigation is brought. The paper showcased how valuable comparative law can be in understanding issues, especially quite literally global ones. It also highlighted the vibrant work being done in Asia, in this case, the common law systems particularly of Singapore, Hong Kong and India, but with links to wider systems, including Malaysia and nearby systems like Australia.