DLA Piper assists Timor-Leste in major climate case

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that governments are duty-bound to regulate GHG-emitting activities

DLA Piper assists Timor-Leste in major climate case
Stephen Webb, Gitanjali Bajaj

DLA Piper has provided pro bono legal assistance to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in securing a significant climate decision from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

In the watershed ruling, the tribunal determined that governments have a “stringent” duty of due diligence and responsibility to regulate greenhouse gas-emitting activities. Moreover, the decision affirmed that developed nations are legally bound to aid developing states through capacity building, scientific expertise, technology transfer, and financial support.

“The ruling found states have obligations to prevent, reduce, and control anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and their adverse effects on the marine environment,” said Stephen Webb, partner and head of energy sector – Asia Pacific at DLA Piper. “The ruling lends weight to the concerns of nations which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and provides them a legal footing to demand greater climate action”.

Partner Gitanjali Bajaj described the judgment as a “world first” and said it would be “followed by the more significant advisory opinion currently before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)”.

“While smaller states may struggle to have their voices heard at the climate negotiating tables, targeted litigation to spur both political and legal change from larger, high-emitter states can help level the playing field”, Bajaj said. “The importance of this matter cannot be understated. Sustainability is a key pillar in our business strategy, and we were honoured to be entrusted with this matter by the government of Timor-Leste”.

According to Elizabeth Exposto, Chief Executive Officer of the Land & Maritime Boundary Office and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Timor-Leste expressed pride in the multiplier effect of its role in the ITLOS proceedings, which encouraged “greater access to justice for small island developing states and least developed countries on climate change”.

In addition to Webb (Brisbane) and Bajaj (Sydney), the following lawyers made up DLA Piper’s team on the case: senior counsel John Middleton AM KC (Melbourne), junior counsel Eran Sthoeger Esq. (New York), and solicitor Claire Robertson (Brisbane).

Exposto headed up the Land & Maritime Boundary Office, which acted for Timor-Leste. She was joined by principal legal advisors Simon Fenby and Adelsia Coelho, legal advisor Jennise Charmes da Silva, and principal policy and strategy advisor Catarina Antunes.

Recent articles & video

Federal Court fines employer for failing to issue payslips

Hall & Wilcox coaches Vasco Trustees shareholders through pickup by TMF Group

Victorian public prosecutions office adapts matter management system

13 rise to senior roles at JWS

IPH welcomes inaugural chief transformation officer

Lander & Rogers brings in digital economy practice head

Most Read Articles

Kain Lawyers scoops up ex-PwC Australia legal business head as director

Federal Court declares misleading conduct in wine labelling dispute

Global firms bring A-game to support Orana BESS project

Maurice Blackburn director to helm the Australian Lawyers Alliance as national president