Climate change and the perils of greenwashing for law firm marketing teams

monarch_butterfly_8137642_1280.pngImage by rfotostock from Pixabay

The Law Society has published its guidance on the impact of climate change on solicitors (following on from its Climate Change Resolution in 2021) and it includes some interesting warnings on the perils of greenwashing.

Marketing teams need to be aware of section 1.5 (Greenwashing) and 1.6 (Communicating your commitment):

1.5. Greenwashing

Marketing, pitch and other materials that communicate your organisation’s approach to climate change should not mischaracterise or overstate your organisation’s targets, or progress made against them.

This has the potential to leave your organisation open to accusations of 'greenwashing' and may lead to breaches of the Competition and Markets Authority’s guidance on environmental claims (Green Claims Code) and/or the SRA’s Standards and Regulations.

For example, the term 'sustainable' is widely taken to mean “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (EU Brundtland Report, 1987; as quoted in the Charity Commission’s definition of sustainable development).

If your law firm describes itself as sustainable, or providing sustainable legal services, or makes similar claims relating to its response to climate change, you need to consider whether those claims can stand up to external, objective scrutiny.

Setting standards by reference to accepted scientific methodologies and measuring impacts using those methodologies is an established way of demonstrating this.

The Green Claims Code provides guidance for businesses on existing obligations under consumer protection law when making environmental claims in the UK. See the relevant heading ‘Claims must be true and accurate’.

1.6. Communicating your commitment

As with any other public statements made by you and your organisation, you should be mindful that your communications are accurate and not misleading to ensure any such communications cannot give rise to claims of misrepresentation or greenwashing.

It is also important that you have consideration of the SRA’s regulatory requirements (see paragraph 1.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms and paragraph 8.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors).

See the full report:

    Back to Blog

    Get in touch ...

    We are always happy to have an informal chat. As a member of the Law Consultancy Network, if we cannot help you we may be able to introduce you to a specialist who can.

    Tell us your communication preferences