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LONDON – In the latest issue of Apparel Insider, out next week, we look at the legal implications of new UK guidelines around greenwashing. We spoke to several law firms in the wake of new guidelines from the Competition and Market’s Authority (CMA) which aim to offer businesses an idea of the types of misleading green claims which would likely fall foul of the law.

Sailesh Mehta of Red Lion Chambers is a barrister who specialises in regulatory law. He prosecutes and defends large corporations and their directors and advises institutions at a national level. He also lectures lawyers and judges on aspects of regulatory law internationally. 

Mehta said that due to the complexity of the problem, “no consumer has the time or expertise to check every green claim made by a seller.”

“Most sellers ‘sail close to the wind’ in that they are fully aware of the law, but are also aware of its limitations and fully exploit those limitations,” he added.

Mehta said that while many brands may push the limits of marketing in a way that could break – for instance – CMA guidelines, they may manage to remain within the letter of the law.

Duncan Reed is a regulatory partner at UK law firm TLT. He said: “The test is: how would the average person on the street behave? The latest research suggests that green labelling has a significant impact on consumer sentiment and purchasing decisions. If the average consumer would be misled by the claims, then there will be a case to answer.”

Katharine Mason is a senior associate, Regulatory, Compliance and Investigations at DWF, a global provider of legal and business services.

Asked generally about marketing claims around sustainability, she told us:Claims must be factually accurate, and companies will need to hold evidence to prove any claim made. The stronger the claim the more robust the evidence needs to be.”

Full feature in our next magazine.

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