Matthew Townsend


Matt is Global Co-Head of Environmental & Sanctions and one of the founders of the firm's Global ESG Group.

He also co-heads the International Trade Group. Matt advises on a wide range of regulatory and compliance matters including sustainability and ESG; climate transition programmes; decarbonisation; environmental risk management; product compliance and safety; carbon pricing/trading; corporate reporting and disclosure; governance and risk management; international trade law; sanctions and export controls. He has worked extensively with clients to develop compliance programmes across a broad range of regulatory and risk areas.

Matt has practised in environmental and climate law for almost 30 years and has been recognised as a leading practitioner in his field for many years. He is a regular commentator on new and emerging developments. 

Matt works with major international clients across jurisdictions and in multiple sectors including financial services, energy, industrials, chemicals, technology and many more. 

He is widely recognised as one of Europe’s leading regulatory compliance lawyers.


Representative matters

A range of clients (financial institutions, corporates and industry bodies) on operational risk assessments in respect of sustainability compliance and the development of associated compliance reviews and programmes. He regularly advises clients on sustainability considerations in respect of strategic-level transactions (such as project financing, M&A and capital markets) and issues (such as TCFD reporting; directors’ duties; carbon pricing mechanisms and greenwashing). 

On environmental, health and safety and climate regulatory matters across a broad range of corporate and real estate transactions, projects and finance-related matters. He has advised extensively on issues arising from climate change, carbon trading, circular economy programmes, supply chain risk management, renewable power, energy and infrastructure projects, the transfrontier shipment of hazardous products, international conventions on pollution, safety and sustainability. He also advises on contentious environmental and climate matters, including indemnity/warranty claims and enforcement action by regulators.

On export control and sanctions issues in the context of debt and equity raisings, M&A transactions, joint ventures and listings and has worked closely with a range of corporates and financial institutions on sanctions risk management and the development of internal sanctions compliance programmes. 

Matt specialises in a range of trade and regulatory matters including economic and trade sanctions and export controls, WTO rules, tariffs, free trade agreements, and customs controls. He has worked closely with a wide range of corporates and financial institutions on trade restrictions and foreign direct investment regimes. He also advises on wider related compliance matters such as anti-bribery and corruption (ABAC) and anti-money laundering (AML).

Pro bono

Ambassador for Hope and Homes for Children

Executive member of the Legal Sector Alliance

Published Work

  • Co-editor: "REACH - Best Practice Guide to Regulation 1907/2006" (Hart/Beck)
  • Contributor: "Project Finance" by G. Vinter (Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Contributor: "EPC Contracts and Major Projects" by N. Pritchard (Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Matt is a regular speaker and commentator on business compliance issues.

Speaking Engagements

  • The global transition to a sustainable economy, 2021. 
  • City & Financial ESG roundtables 2021. 
  • City & Financial Natural Capital Summit 2021. 
  • A&O webinars on the European Green Deal and Fit For 55 programme.
Very experienced and technically superb, he is very good at what he does. He’s great to deal with and he knows his subject inside out.
Chambers Europe 2021 (Regulatory: Environment)
Matthew Townsend is pragmatic and commercial. He is always available and provides clear, coherent advice in very good time. Matthew is great with the spread of his breadth of knowledge.
Chambers UK 2022 (Environment and Climate Change)


  • Thought Leader Global Elite 
    Who’s Who Legal 2022 (Environment, Climate Change and Trade & Customs)
  • Hall of Fame 
    Legal 500 UK 2022 (Environment) 
  • Band One 
    Chambers UK 2022 (Environment and Climate Change)



Admitted as solicitor, England and Wales, 1996


BA (Hons), University of Birmingham, 1992

Diploma, Law, The College Of Law, York, 1993

Diploma, Legal Practice, The College Of Law, York, 1994