05 Jan 2021

Rajah & Tann Singapore launches sustainability practice to help clients stay ahead of rising ESG compliance in Asia

Rajah & Tann Singapore today announced the launch of a sustainability practice group to help a growing number of clients stay ahead of rising ESG (environmental, social and governance) compliance in the region.

The new practice group, a pioneering initiative for a law firm in Singapore, will be headed by Lee Weilin, Partner of Rajah & Tann Singapore’s banking and finance practice. She will be supported by a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers, drawing on their expertise in environmental, infrastructure, M&A, governance, trade, and other critical areas. They include Kala Anandarajah, Soh Lip San, and Sandy Foo, as well as other lawyers across the Rajah & Tann Asia network.

The multi-disciplinary team will help local and regional clients navigate the complex regulatory and legal considerations for sustainability. Clients will be able to tap Rajah & Tann Singapore’s legal expertise and experience on a range of ESG issues including anti-bribery and corruption, business conduct and ethics, corporate governance, environment, health and safety, green and sustainability linked loans, green construction and projects, impact investing, supply chain and stakeholder management, sustainability reporting, and workplace safety and health.

Patrick Ang, Managing Partner, Rajah & Tann Singapore, said: “As sustainability has become an important area of focus for many businesses, sustainable business models and risk management amidst a growing web of ESG regulations and considerations, are no longer just a management preoccupation but also one that concerns investors.

“The sustainability practice group will help consolidate and streamline resources and knowledge sharing across relevant practice groups which have increasingly been advising clients on their sustainability concerns. This will give our lawyers a holistic view and a consistent approach to sustainability issues. This collaborative approach is part of Rajah & Tann’s DNA and puts us in a good place to provide a high standard of service to clients.”

Mr Ang said he is pleased to see the next generation of the firm’s leaders, such as Ms Lee, stepping up to lead the new practice, an area which she is passionate about. “We are ready to support our younger lawyers as they bring to the table a fresh perspective and new ideas that will take Rajah & Tann to the next level.”

Commenting on the new practice, Ms Lee added: “Sustainability issues can inspire greater confidence and loyalty in investors and customers. As such, many companies are now actively integrating ESG principles into their operations.

“Of late, an area of strong growth for us has been in green and sustainability linked loans as countries and corporates in the region ramp up efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and other ESG related risks. As a result, our lawyers have chalked up vast experience advising clients not only on the commercial aspects of the transactions but also in the myriad of legal and technical requirements in international green and sustainability-linked financing principles.”

Mr Soh said with the new practice, Rajah & Tann Singapore seeks to help clients in their sustainability journey to actively embrace their respective ESG agenda, build resilience and future-proof their business. “In some industries, the need for change may be inevitable; decarbonisation is gathering pace and sustainability is an economic imperative.”

Mr Soh added that the focus of the new practice will not just be Singapore-based clients but also clients in the region, including governments involved in sustainable infrastructure.

Rajah & Tann Singapore’s move to bring ESG issues together under a practice group mirrors the same integrated approach adopted by a growing number of businesses, accelerated in recent years as challenges like climate change, social inequality and corporate governance, take centre stage.

“In the past, companies looked at sustainability in isolation as an afterthought to their business functions,” Ms Anandarajah noted. “However, as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, sustainability has come into critical focus as businesses grapple with issues regarding workplace health and safety, supply chain, cashflow crunch and consumer demand, all alongside environmental concerns too.

“Sustainability is an investment in the future of a company. Investors and customers are becoming more discerning. They want real change in sustainability and not greenwashing tactics. By taking a more holistic approach to this issue, corporations can still make long-term profits while protecting stakeholders’ interests.”

Rajah & Tann Singapore is one of the largest full-service law firms in Singapore and South East Asia, with market leading practices in M&A, dispute resolution, international arbitration, shipping, insolvency, restructuring, capital markets, competition law, corporate and commercial, among others. Through Rajah & Tann Asia, it is a member of one of the largest legal networks in ASEAN with over 800 fee earners.

About Rajah & Tann Asia – www.rajahtannasia.com

Rajah & Tann Asia brings together leading law firms and lawyers in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, with each offering the highest standards of service to locally-based clients while collectively having the capability to handle the most complex regional and cross-border transactions and to provide excellent legal counsel seamlessly across the region. With over 800 fee earners, all working towards one shared goal, we are lawyers who know Asia and who give our clients home advantage.