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We have worked on water projects around the world and bring our core experience of commercial and regulatory frameworks operating across regulated industries. We have advised on some of the largest and most complex transactions within the utilities sector.

We regularly advise water utilities, investors, sponsors, sub-contractors and lenders on the range of issues that arise in the water industry. This ranges from procurement to public works programmes, private sector finance, and ongoing operational advice to mergers and acquisitions.

The water sector is heavily regulated and faces many challenges. Its distribution is unevenly spread and infrastructure improvements require considerable capital outlay. As such you require lawyers that truly understand the nuances of the sector.

Our recent experience related to water includes advising:

  • Scottish Water on its capital investment programmes for the current regulatory period, on its portfolio of 9 wastewater treatment and sludge treatment PFI projects throughout Scotland and on disputes.
  • Scottish Water on its acquisition of the Project Grampian PFI from the Kelda Group, the owners of Yorkshire Water. The four Project Grampian companies acquired by Scottish Water own and operate various wastewater treatment works, associated pumping stations and renewable power generating assets. 
  • The Government of Ras Al Khaimah on the procurement and development of the Emirate-wide wastewater system.
  • A purchaser on a simultaneous acquisition, group restructuring and refinancing of a portfolio of hydro projects in Scotland.
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Municipality of Bucharest on the privatisation of RGAB, the supplier of water and sewage services for Bucharest, including establishing the joint venture to manage the concession for all water and sanitation services in Bucharest.
  • SSE Water on the sale of SSE Water to Leep Utilities, a JV between Ancala Partners and Peel Group. 
  • Northumbrian Water on their £100 million US private placement issue. Our specialist water team with our debt capital markets team meant that we were able to provide the full range of finance and regulatory advice required to ensure the success of this transaction and all the follow-on work required once the bond issue completed.
  • AMP Capital on the disposal of its entire stake in Thames Water to Borealis Infrastructure. Our role included advice on the provisions of the Thames Water shareholders agreement, including, in particular, the pre-emption provisions, as well as drafting the transaction documentation and negotiating it with Borealis and its advisers.
  • Severn Trent on the issues raised by the Cave Review and on mechanisms for easier access to water networks with a revised form of Network Access Code. We also advised on extending competition, regulatory issues and on the treatment of new sources.
  • Thames Tideway on the acquisition and funding of the Infrastructure Provider, the entity that will be the regulated utility responsible for delivering the £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel and its ongoing operation. This project involved a new and unique way of funding major infrastructure projects, resulting from a change in the regulatory framework.
  • Dalmore and GLIL on their acquisition of a 15% stake in Anglian Water Group plc from 3i.
  • Northern Ireland Water on its clean water PPP programme.
  • Northern Ireland Water on its acquisition of the Project Alpha Public Private Partnership (PPP) from Kelda Group, the owners of Yorkshire Water.

To find out more about other related services you can visit the Energy & Climate Change expertise section

"CMS are responsive, knowledgeable (about the law, the market and their client), and efficient in delivery."

Legal 500, 2021

“They do not waste time on unnecessary activity, but focus on the client request and execute it."

Legal 500, 2021

"CMS always provide a very collaborative approach to commercial matters, ensuring areas of contention were resolved to our satisfaction."

Legal 500, 2022

"Commercial. High-quality advice given efficiently and on time. Rather than simply saying what the law says they explain what it means and will advise on strategy. This is rare for lawyers."

Legal 500, 2022
An overview of our water experience
Advising the Board


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Key takeaways from Energy Day at COP28
As a young professional in the legal field, attending COP28's Energy Day was an eye-opening experience that provided valuable insights into the future of environmental policies and their potential impact. Day 6 of COP28 showcased a collective determination to address the pressing challenges of our time. The discussions emphasised the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy sources, with a focus on innovation, collaboration and policy frameworks. Supply chain planning, streamlining approvals through a clear permitting process and advocating for mandatory carbon pricing were some of the other key points discussed in the various panel sessions we attended. Another noteworthy aspect was the emphasis on international co-operation and the role of legal frameworks in facilitating cross-border partnerships. Governments were urged to think strategically beyond the present, emphasising long-term planning for renewable energy expansion.  COP28 Key Takeaway  The key takeaway for me was not just the global agreements discussed but also amplifying the voices of those on the front lines – farmers, coal workers, the youth, indigenous people and others. What set this COP apart was its focus on showcasing these voices, by, for instance, dedicating a full day to discuss the impact of climate change on health. These voices are essential in translating agreements into on-the-ground success and bridging this gap between policy decisions and the real life experiences of those directly affected by climate change is our collective responsibility, ensuring the protection of our planet for present and future generations. The Impact on Legal Practice The outcome of COP28 may lead to more stringent regulations and compliance requirements, presenting both challenges and opportunities. Legal practitioners will play a pivotal role in navigating these complexities, offering counsel to businesses and other organisations seeking to align their operations with emerging environmental standards, one way of doing this would be through using contracts as a mechanism to de-risk. As we move forward post-COP28, the legal community's commitment to guiding clients through these evolving landscapes will be instrumental in ensuring progress in the renewable energy transition. In conclusion, COP28 has been a catalyst for reflection and action. It is an exciting time to be in the legal field, with the potential to be at the forefront of shaping legal frameworks that promote a more sustainable future.
Views from the Energy Leaders’ Summit
Wednesday 6 December saw CMS host the Energy Leaders’ Summit on behalf of the Global Success Partnership at CMS Dubai. The event welcomed Edward Hobart, British Ambassador to the UAE, and Andrew Bowie MP, UK Minister for Nuclear and Net Zero, who shared their perspectives of the UK’s role as a global leader in climate action and energy transition, and the opportunities for collaboration with the UAE and other countries in the region. The panel discussion covered a wide range of topics on the various aspects of the energy transition - the role of innovation, finance, policy, and partnerships in achieving net zero emissions, and the challenges and opportunities for industrial decarbonisation and reskilling.  Thank you to the panellists:Munir Hassan, Head of Energy & Climate Change, CMSAnnika Ramsköld, Chief Sustainability Officer, VattenfallAngela Churie Kallhauge, Executive Vice President and Head of the COP28 Delegation, Environmental Defence FundJan Spin, President of Americas, Blue Green Water TechnologiesAnna Hancock, Executive Director, Pollination Group, AustraliaLeon Kamhi, Executive Director, Head of Responsibility, Federated Hermes Limited A huge step forward in the reduction of methane The Global Methane Pledge made at COP28 has been joined by over 100 countries and aims to accelerate the implementation of existing and new measures to reduce methane emissions, such as capturing and using methane from landfills and oil and gas operations, improving waste management, and promoting low-emission agriculture. The World Bank is set to roll out a minimum of 15 country-led programs within the next 18 months to slash up to 10 million tons of methane (over investment lifespans). So, lots of positive messages about reducing methane. The sense on the panel was that it was a huge step forward that methane was discussed to such an extent and the commitment that some of the largest oil companies have made to reduce methane could be a game changer. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have an important role in monitoring and verifying the methane reductions using satellite data and we heard about the need for more funding and innovation to support methane abatement in low- and middle-income countries, especially in the oil and gas sector.  Reskilling is a huge opportunity  The panel discussed the social and economic impacts of the energy transition, and the need for a just and inclusive approach that considers the needs and aspirations of the citizens and the workers. We heard about the importance of reskilling and upskilling the workforce, sharing best practices and lessons learned from different countries and regions. Where the infrastructure can be easily transformed to support clean energy, this reskilling presents an opportunity to both businesses and local communities. However, panellists reflected that this was not always possible, so some communities may struggle to thrive if their current livelihoods cannot be transitioned to clean energy. The role of investors and financial institutions There was considerable discussion about the role of investors and financial institutions in supporting the transition, and the need for consistent and credible disclosure and reporting stand­ards. There are challenges and opportunities for creating new revenue streams and business models, and the role of carbon markets and social bonds in financing the transition. For the investment infrastructure to be created so that investors can support governments in delivering their programmes, it needs to be easier for private investment to entertain the risk. Blue Green Water Technologies remove harmful alga blooms from lakes and oceans. These projects are often financed by companies using carbon credits and this source of funding has enabled local communities to benefit from cleaned bodies of water. Biodiversity has dramatically increased, as has the value of land. Creative funding solutions can benefit many different stakeholders by enabling projects such as these. Climate risk is an accelerating risk, and this should be considered by financial institutions. As they calculate the value of climate risk and its impact on their capital allocation, remuneration and expenses, the valuations must adjust. The view on disclosures and standards was that their have a role, but any investment should lead to a change in behaviour, not just to be disclosed as part of disclosure requirements. Making disclosures is a huge investment for a business and so the sense was that businesses should avoid measuring in a certain way purely for disclosures instead of really delivering change and solutions. The role of governments Finally, we heard about the role of governments in facilitating and enabling the transition, and the need for collaboration and cooperation at all levels. We learned about the importance of setting clear and ambitious targets and policies and aligning them with the global goals and commitments. We also heard about the importance of engaging and empowering the stakeholders, especially the non-state actors, and creating trust and confidence in the transition. COP28 has a role as a platform for showcasing solutions and forging partnerships. The Leadership Group for Industry Transition is one example of how governments can be brought together with companies and civil society to support and accelerate the transition to net zero emissions in industry and create new markets and jobs. Communities will make the difference The discussion closed with some reflections on the importance of different communities in making the energy transition happen. Communities of all types, such as those who attended the Energy Leaders’ Summit, will come together to use the technology available to translate the deals and agreements into action. We need government support to remove the brakes, and we need actors of all types to come together. We need people to question, to demand more and to change behaviour.  
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COP28: how the law can unite and act to deliver the UN SDGs
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North Sea Strikes and Force Majeure
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