Heriot Brown

In a dynamic collaboration, the Heriot Brown Community joined forces with Shoosmiths to orchestrate a consequential roundtable event. The focus was crystal clear: bringing together In-House Counsel professionals in the Electric Vehicle (EV) sector for a lively and interactive discussion. The goal? To dissect the challenges of providing legal counsel in a rapidly evolving market, particularly within the context of an emerging and ever-changing regulatory landscape.

The electrification of road transport, encompassing both EVs and their related infrastructure, stands as a pivotal force in the broader effort to decarbonise transportation. While technology in this domain is advancing at an unprecedented pace, the regulatory framework is playing catch-up, evolving alongside technological developments. The roundtable delved into the intricate ways General Counsels (GCs) and legal teams can offer commercially viable advice amidst this shifting regulatory terrain, cognizant of future regulations that could significantly impact business models.

The roundtable featured insightful contributions from Levent Gurdenli and Chris Pritchett, Partners at Shoosmiths, and was expertly moderated by Martin Evensen from Heriot Brown. Here are some key takeaways from the robust discussion:

1. Challenges in Scaling Quickly: Much like the wind industry around 2011, the EV sector is rife with excitement. However, when scaling a business swiftly, the challenges intensify, with particular emphasis on considerations related to the grid, planning, and interactions with landowners.

2. Fragmented Regulatory Updates: A notable departure from the wind industry is the multitude of regulatory updates affecting various facets of the EV sector, including infrastructure, consumer interactions, grid management, and policy interventions. The absence of a unified regulatory authority makes navigating this landscape particularly challenging.

3. Rapid Pace and Future Planning: The industry’s breakneck pace raises questions about how legal teams can effectively anticipate and plan for future regulatory changes. The lack of a cohesive regulatory body compounds the difficulty in predicting and preparing for shifts in the legal environment.

4. Carbon Reporting Challenges: Compliance with carbon reporting standards emerges as a significant hurdle, requiring close collaboration between legal teams and compliance departments.

5. Infrastructure and Consumer Buy-In: The roundtable highlighted the crucial role of infrastructure in fostering consumer trust in EVs. Challenges include preventing negative consumer perceptions based on stories of stranded EV users and the need for comprehensive mapping of charging points.

6. Educational Initiatives: Acknowledging the importance of educating both drivers and potential EV renters, participants stressed the need for centralised educational initiatives, possibly spearheaded by the government.

7. Negotiating with Local Councils: Legal challenges arise in negotiations with local councils, often due to a lack of understanding of EV technology and operational requirements. This can result in protracted discussions and delays.

8. Funding and Collaboration: The lifespan of local electric vehicle infrastructure (LEVI) funding is a concern, emphasising the need for strategic funding allocation. Drawing inspiration from the U.S. model, the discussion explored the possibility of charging points every 50 miles along state roads.

9. Regulatory Touchpoints: With numerous regulatory touchpoints, legal teams find themselves juggling various compliance requirements, including government-imposed service levels and public charging regulations (PCR).

10. Coordination and Lobbying: Participants expressed the need for coordination among lobbying voices, advocating for a collaborative approach between organisations like Charge UK and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In essence, the Heriot Brown Community’s roundtable provided a platform for legal minds in the EV sector to dissect, discuss, and strategise on the legal challenges inherent in this dynamic and evolving industry. As the electric vehicle revolution charges forward, legal professionals play a crucial role in steering through the complex legal landscape, ensuring compliance, and fostering a sustainable and thriving EV ecosystem.

Are you ready to dive deeper into the complex legal landscape of the EV sector? Connect with Martin Evensen, from Heriot Brown, to explore the challenges and opportunities in this rapidly evolving industry. Let’s navigate the future of EVs together – get in touch with Martin today: [email protected] 📧