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Louise Howarth, Partner

Louise Howarth


Practice areas

  • Chemicals
  • Energy and infrastructure
  • Environment
  • Food and drink
  • Litigation and dispute management

Practice notes

Louise is an experienced energy and environmental disputes partner who leads the firm's UK energy regulatory practice.

Following her joint degree in Chemistry and Law, Louise's career has focussed on resolving energy, chemicals and environmental disputes. She has developed niche experience in the energy sector, advising regulated entities and companies who may wish to challenge regulatory decisions by way of judicial review, and advising licensees facing regulatory enforcement investigations, typically by Ofgem.

Louise regularly advises companies who may be impacted by regulatory decisions in the energy/utilities sectors. Louise typically provides strategic advice to companies who have received a “minded to” position from the regulator, preparing targeted submissions to seek to avoid an unfavourable final decision, while preparing the ground for a judicial review/Human Rights (A1P1) challenge should that be necessary. Louise has also advised on the potential for legal challenges to new regulations in the energy sector, in relation to retail and transmission issues.

Regarding enforcement action, Louise has advised licensees on a number of very significant recent investigations by Ofgem. Louise has advised an energy supplier on the only sectoral case to have proceeded to a formal Ofgem Enforcement Decision Panel (EDP) hearing, relating to advanced metering obligations (a pre-cursor to domestic smart meters). In addition, Louise has advised other licensees on the early investigation and resolution of various other potential enforcement matters (including advice on self-reporting), for example, relating to billing, consumer complaints and ombudsman cases, misreported data and energy generation.

Louise also advises on commercial energy disputes, where an understanding of the regulatory framework and potential public administrative issues and challenges are integral to the appropriate management of the matter.

In addition, Louise is an experienced civil environmental disputes lawyer and has handled a range of environmental claims, including environmental nuisance/negligence claims, migrating contamination claims and warranty and indemnity disputes. Louise has acted for businesses defending group action environmental nuisance claims, typically resulting in resolution without formal proceedings.

Louise sits on the firm’s global steering committee for ESG and is the commercial litigation lead for climate change litigation risk management. Louise advises clients on managing litigation risks associated with decarbonisation and net zero commitments, with a particular focus on greenwashing.

Louise is passionate about supporting and developing our junior lawyers and is responsible for trainee recruitment and development in her local office in Nottingham. Louise is also proud to be working on one of the firm's most significant pro-bono projects.

Outside of work, Louise has two children who take up most of her spare time, and she has enjoyed introducing them to sci-fi films and rock music.

Louise has delivered many client training sessions during her career, most recently covering:

  • How to manage energy sector regulatory investigations, enforcement and compliance actions
  • An introduction to global climate change disputes - current trends, direction of travel and how to avoid disputes (delivered with international colleagues)

Louise regularly speaks at external seminars and conferences, for example chairing a session on global climate change disputes at NY Climate Week (2021).

Examples of recent matters include:

  • acting for a licensee in an expedited judicial review against Ofgem, where the licensee sought to challenge Ofgem’s use of its powers to require the licensee to take part in a collective switching trial
  • acting for a group of 21 Interested Parties in a judicial review in relation to the capacity market, where the claimant was challenging certain state aid arrangements
  • advising asset owners on the successful avoidance of compliance action arising from Ofgem’s audit programme of the renewables accreditations (ROCs/FiT) of a number of solar farms
  • acting for an energy supplier in the favourable settlement of an Ofgem enforcement investigation (following receipt of Ofgem's Summary Statement of Initial Findings)
  • advising a global company on managing litigation risks arising from its net zero report (prior to publication), including coordinating advice from other key jurisdictions
  • acting for a manufacturing company facing a threatened group action environmental nuisance claim (odours/dust/noise)
  • acting on a multi-million pound and multi-jurisdictional environmental indemnity claim, arising following the sale of a business division
  • advising a technology company on potential civil liabilities relating to solvents that had contaminated the groundwater below its site, arising from historic activities prior to its ownership

In addition Louise has undertaken a 12 month client secondment at a global chemicals and industrials company, advising on a range of commercial and litigation matters.

Professional Activities

  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
  • Co-convenor of the East Midlands branch of UKELA - UK Environmental Law Association (committee member since 2005)

Awards and Rankings

  • Louise has been identified as a Next Generation Partner by Legal 500 (2021, 2020), and a Next Generation Lawyer in 2018.
  • Client feedback includes that Louise is known for "Sound tactical advice, client commitment, and excellent relationship skills."

Qualifications and Education

  • Legal Practice Course, Nottingham Law School, 1999-2000, Distinction
  • Joint Hons in Chemistry & Law (BSc), University of Bristol, 1995-1999, 2:1

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