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Environment

“Kim & Chang can mobilise extensive knowledge and resources to resolve various and complex issues.”
– Chambers Asia Pacific 2018

Overview

In addition to our attorneys, Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice consists of a network of experts in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, environmental engineering and climate change.  

Our diversified and in-depth services relate to a wide array of environmental issues covering air, water, waste, soil pollution, harmful chemical substance, products with significant impact on the environment, greenhouse gas and climate change.

Kim & Chang was the first in Korea to offer legal services on environmental matters to both domestic and international clients, and we pride ourselves in having established a premier presence.  For more than thirty years working on various environmental issues, our experienced team of lawyers and experts bring forth extensive analytical capabilities to provide quick, accurate assessments and practical solutions to multifaceted environmental risks that companies continuously face.

Key Servicesshow

Regulatory Compliance Counseling

Drawing upon extensive experience and expertise, Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice provides sophisticated, pragmatic counseling to businesses to ensure compliance with all applicable EHS laws and regulations.  Our legal services include providing due diligence assessment of environmental compliance, counseling on required corrective actions, representing clients concerning environmental permits, and drafting environmental policies and compliance programs.

 

Representation in Administrative Procedures

Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice not only assists clients with the interpretation of EHS laws but also provides a full range of multi-dimensional counseling services relating to enforcement and policymaking of such laws.  We represent clients subject to correctional oversight and ensure that the clients’ perspectives are presented to the relevant authority.  We also assist in legal proceedings and submitting a formal request to the relevant agency for an official interpretative ruling on unclear areas of environmental laws.

 

Environmental Risk Assessment and Allocation

We counsel a wide range of domestic and multinational clients across industries in various types of transactions – from real estate transactions to commercial business transactions including purchases, sales, financing, leasing and others.  In particular, our Practice (i) provides environmental risk exposure assessment and regulatory compliance assessment, (ii) negotiates and drafts purchase, sale, lease or financing agreements and related documents addressing environmental risks and impacts, and assists clients to avoid or minimize environmental risks and liabilities of individual or corporate clients.

 

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice provides legal counseling and advocacy in all stages of civil, criminal, and administrative environmental proceedings.  We represent clients before other dispute resolute bodies in various environmental matters including air, water and soil contamination, carbon emissions, toxic wastes, toxic chemical management and clean-up of contamination.  Our Practice features an integrated team of scientific specialists and seasoned environmental litigators who effectively and successfully advise clients on all aspects of highly complex and technical disputed environmental matters.

 

Climate Change Compliance Counseling

Korea is recognized globally as an environmentally responsible nation taking proactive steps to fight climate change.  Korea has voluntarily implemented a carbon emissions trading scheme as well as conversion to renewable energy sources.  This means more regulatory restrictions applicable to companies doing business in Korea.

Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice has provided legal services on a wide variety of climate change-related issues and transactions.  Our Practice has been actively involved in promoting and systematizing climate change projects and climate change adaptation solutions.  We have advised in various types of transactions relating to the Clean Development Mechanism (“CDM”), carbon trading and carbon funds.  We were the legal adviser to Rhodia Energy’s N2O Abatement Project in Korea, one of the world’s largest CDM projects and Korea’s first carbon funds project.  We advise and represent various clients in relation to the carbon regulation emissions trading scheme practices and litigation.

 

Chemical Practices

The import, manufacturing, sale and distribution of chemical products, which make up a significant part of the domestic industry, implicate a variety of environmental issues.  Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice advises on applications for a toxicity examination or exemption, registration of chemical substances, and regulatory requirements applicable to the import or use of such registered chemical substances.  As an integrated team of chemical specialists and experienced lawyers, we provide technical and analytical evaluations of various chemical products subject to government approval and registration requirements.

 

Automobile Emissions

The automobile industry is subject to strict environmental regulations, including on exhaust emissions.  Interest and regulatory focus on these issues is growing – the recent investigations by both Korean and overseas regulators regarding exhaust gas from diesel vehicles is one of many examples.  Exhaust gas regulation has a direct impact on the manufacture, import and sale of vehicles, and lack of compliance could lead to civil, criminal and administrative liability for the company and its employees.  Kim & Chang’s Environment Practice is experienced in both the regulatory and technical aspects of emissions certifications.  It provides comprehensive legal services on emissions regulations and other regulations relevant to automobile importers, based on expertise and know-how built over numerous complex matters including the recent diesel vehicle emissions cases.

Key Experiencesshow

Fortune 500 companies and other multinational and domestic companies that the Environment Practice regularly advises include:

 

  • Manufacturing companies with production facilities;

  • Companies that store, use or manufacture toxic chemicals or oils;

  • Companies that manufacture, store, distribute or sell chemical products;

  • Companies that dispose wastes or recycle wastes; and

  • Renewable energy companies (e.g., solar power, wind power, etc.).

 

Some of the major environment matters for which we acted as counsel include:

 

Litigation
  • Represented bus manufacturer, petrochemical company, power and automation equipment manufacturer and others in litigation regarding clean-up obligations for soil contamination 

  • Represented civil engineering company and chemical company in criminal investigation regarding violation of Air Environment Conservation Act (“AECA”), and electronic components manufacturer in action to cancel administrative surcharge 

  • Represented household goods manufacturer and others in criminal trial for alleged violation of Chemicals Control Act and Act on Registration and Evaluation, Etc. of Chemical Substances (“K-REACH”)

  • Represented food company and others in administrative hearings in connection with work site closure order and administrative fine for violation of Water Quality and Ecosystem Conservation Act and related criminal proceedings

  • Represented cement manufacturer in proceedings before National Environmental Dispute Resolution Commission Represented semiconductor company, chemical company, construction company and others in connection with criminal and administrative proceedings regarding explosions, chemical leakages and other environmental incidents at worksites

  • Represented 16 petrochemical companies, 17 nonferrous metal companies, 5 cement companies, semiconductor material/shipbuilding/industrial gas and other companies in  emissions allowance litigation

  • Advised in connection with US class action litigation for manganese fumes from welding rods

  • Represented automobile importer in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings for violation of the AECA in connection with exhaust gas emissions of diesel vehicles and other issues

  • Represented a waste management company in disputing the revocation of a business license in administrative proceedings

  • Represented a petroleum chemical company in disputing a suspension of business in administrative proceedings

 

Advisory
  • Advised consumer goods manufacturer, household goods manufacturer and others in connection with violation of K-REACH obligations

  • Advised private equity fund regarding environmental impact assessment

  • Advised water purifier manufacturer on licensing issues under Drinking Water Management Act

  • Advised industrial product manufacturer, chemical company and others on information disclosure obligations under K-REACH

  • Advised chemicals and food company in connection with Waste Management Act litigation

  • Advised petrochemical company in connection with emissions trading scheme

  • Advised public institution regarding soil contamination issues

  • Advised semiconductor company in connection with compliance audit and relevant regulations

  • Advised oil refining company regarding purchase of land from Korea Oil Corporation

  • Advised water treatment company in acquisition of waste recycling company

  • Advised industrial chemicals company regarding soil contamination clean-up costs

  • Advised private equity fund in acquisition of incineration facility from waste treatment company

  • Advised private equity fund in acquisition of construction waste treatment company

  • Advised energy company with world’s largest Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) business regarding conducting CDM project in Onsan region

  • Advised furniture company regarding waste and recycling regulations as part of comprehensive due diligence for entering into Korean market

  • Advised automotive battery company regarding regulations on cross-border transfer of waste and used batteries

  • Advised numerous waste collection and treatment companies regarding regulatory procedures for installing waste treatment facility

  • Advised oil refining company regarding installation of waste treatment facility relating to petrochemical complex

  • Advised on improving extended producer responsibility (EPR) system for packaging in Korea

  • Advised numerous automobile importers in connection with emissions certification and related regulatory procedures

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