Law firm in Public business law,
Environment and Energy
A cross-functional expertise in Public business law
HK legal offers a premium legal contribution in public business law, public procurement, environmental law and energy law. It assists public entities and private operators in the development and implementation of their major projects (infrastructure, energy transition, industry or real estate).
The first founding partner, François K’Jan, has an extensive expertise in public law and procurement. His core business is to support public actors in managing and optimising their relations with the economic sphere.
The second founding partner, Louis-Narito Harada, is a recognized specialist in environmental law and has extensive experience in energy transition and planning law.
In 2021, after fifteen years of practice in leading French and international law firms, as far as Narito is concerned, and with lawyers at the Conseil d’Etat and then with LKA Avocats, as far as François is concerned, they combine their know-how and their respective teams to found the firm HK legal.
In a human-sized firm, their ambition is to deliver operational and efficient legal advice to secure and develop their clients’ projects.
In this respect, they have a strong litigation expertise, which is crucial to their role as legal counsel. Both as plaintiffs and defendants, the firm has a proven track record in all administrative litigation and related strategies. In their areas of expertise, our lawyers also act before civil and criminal courts.
They work in French and English.
The lawyers at HK legal use their knowledge and experience to serve clients in various sectors.
The business of our clients and how we contribute
Public Action and Procurement
In the field of public procurement, we work alongside institutional players and advise buyers and in house legal counsels in the context of the award and performance of public procurement contracts, whether they are administrative or private law contracts. We assist on public works, supply and service contracts (including facility management) and public service concessions. More generally, we master the instruments of public action. In this respect, we contribute to the development of synergies between public and private entities or between public entities in various sectors, by proposing appropriate legal tools (“Société publique locale”, Joint Venture, “public-public” cooperation, etc.) and by understanding all the associated issues (regulatory, institutional, human resources, data protection, intellectual protection, etc.). We also work on the optimisation and development of public assets (“Autorisation d’Occupation Temporaire”, Convention d’Occupation Temporaire”, “Bail Emphythéotique”, etc.), particularly during the design and implementation of public tenders.
Public works and Civil Engineering
We are involved in the implementation of major public projects, in particular the construction of road, airport and port infrastructures and telecommunications networks. In this context, we are perfectly suited to accompany all major projects, from their design to the final warranty claim, while integrating all environmental obligations.
Among other things, we carry out all the legal tasks associated with project management assignments, in particular risk mapping (risk matrix and contract management), the implementation of a fair balance in the conception of the tender documentation, the efficient conclusion of contracts and all related disputes, as well as the management of all the execution issues encountered (claims, amendments, acceptance, settlement, GPA, etc.).
Environment and industrial projects
We assist industrial operators in obtaining or defending their administrative permits, in the relationship with the administrative authorities, in the development or termination of industrial activities. We also act in transactional matters, sometimes in support of international law firms or notaries, to specifically address environmental risks. Our expertise covers the main areas of environmental law: ICPE, polluted sites and soils and “environmental substitution”, waste, water, protected areas and species, ecological compensation, public inquiries and impact studies, health and safety, crisis management and strategic litigation. In the waste sector, our expertise in public contracts is also very useful.
We support developers and sponsors in the energy transition sector (wind, solar, biogas, energy efficiency and Energy Saving Certificates CEE, carbon reporting and greenhouse gas quotas) by leveraging our practice of environmental law, a thorough knowledge of the economic sectors and energy regulations. We intervene to secure administrative authorizations, various project contracts (EPC, corporate PPAs, etc.) and acquisitions of renewable energy portfolios. We also advise industrial and real estate players on energy transition.
Large and small water cycles
We assist public actors in the organisation and implementation of competences around water, sanitation and aquatic environment management and flood prevention, as well as storm water management. In this context, in addition to our perfect knowledge of water law, we are able to offer cross-disciplinary expertise with all the legal skills to be mobilised: leasing or concessions, service provision or implementation contracts, regulatory aspects, inter-municipality and transfer of competences, civil service and environmental law. We constantly monitor regulatory developments in conjunction with our technical partners in these sectors.
Food, Health & Safety and Product compliance
We work alongside institutional actors involved in the development of sustainable production and food models, in the protection of human health, in risk prevention and analysis. We have developed a specific expertise in the treatment of technical and scientific disputes, associated with their skills, in order to have a complete measure of the risks and opportunities associated with decision-making. We assist them in particular in the adoption of decisions to market products (refusal, conditional acceptance) based on scientific analyses and all decisions relating to food and public health.
On the private side, insofar as this does not imply any interference with the institutional players we represent (see our values), we also assist distributors before the marketing of their products on regulatory and HSE compliance issues, and in connection with environmental allegations.
Real estate, retail and planning law
The development of real estate, commercial, industrial or energy projects often requires a number of authorisations, including a planning authorisation. We assist our clients, developers and project owners, with legal feasibility studies for operations, due diligence of permit applications and administrative litigation related to permits. We also have considerable expertise in the retail planning sector.
A service with high added value
Mindful of the needs of our clients, we provide a tailored advice. Beyond the law, we like to understand the technical, economic and strategic issues attached to the matters we are entrusted with. We offer solutions that secure the legal aspects of public and private projects without slowing them down, offering operators a clear and vigilant view of the risks involved by the project.
A client-centered advice
The services offered by the firm are characterized by their precision and concision. We strive to provide the greatest possible clarity of expression and reasoning and to systematically synthesize our work, as close as possible to our clients’ expectations.
The advice we offer is accessible and operational. For public entities, the legal notes are regularly accompanied by a draft act aimed at implementing the recommended solution.
A partnership practice
Our firm is deliberately dedicated to a “niche” area : public business law, environment and energy law. We are able to offer more global legal support in liaising with other trusted colleagues with complementary expertise in various fields (real estate, project financing, M&A, insurance, labor law, etc.). We have also built a reliable network of engineering, environmental and energy consulting firms in France and abroad.
Availability and reactivity
In order to meet our client’s expectations, we are committed to reacting quickly to their requests and are able to intervene in an emergency mode, at their request, or when the situation requires it.
Ethics and prevention of conflicts of interest
We attach particular importance to the prevention of conflicts of interest between our clients, whether they belong to the public or private sectors. In all circumstances, our lawyers guarantee their independence and the strict respect of professional confidentiality.
Our Social and Environmental Responsibility
We are aware of the climate emergency and adapt our way of life and work: cycling or using other sustainable ways to commute, video-conferencing, sorting wastes and saving energy are basics of our daily lives. We ban all forms of discrimination and help law students to thrive as we welcome them as trainees.
Our activity is steadily growing and we are looking to hire. If you are at the School bar or would like to apply for an associate position, please apply and we will examine the profiles that are coherent with the fields of intervention of our Firm.
A lawyer for 16 years, François first worked as an assistant to lawyers at the Conseil d’Etat and the Cour de cassation, experiences which enabled him to acquire a certain competence in administrative litigation. Although he quickly specialised in public contracts, he was able to intervene in a variety of cases, from agricultural facility litigation to the management of the defence of a €1 billion class action.
Keen to get involved in operational issues, he launched his firm, LKA Avocats, in 2013. He has been involved in the front line in order to secure the action of public and semi-public operators in contracts (procurement, concessions, public real estate, complex contracts) both on issues related to the conclusion of contracts (procurement techniques, award procedure…) and on the management of the execution (including contract management).
With his team, he managed all the litigation issues associated with these different phases, whether amicable or judicial, with excellent litigation results.
In 2021, he co-founded HK Legal with Louis-Narito Harada.
He regularly acts in the fields of construction, transport, water, waste and energy.
Moreover, his ability to grasp complex technical issues has enabled him to develop technical expertise in fields such as civil engineering and scientific research.
Close to his clients, François strives to provide his clients with operational legal assistance, the result of reflection taking into account a realistic assessment of the risks and opportunities.
He holds a postgraduate degree in Public Economic Law from the University of Panthéon Assas and a postgraduate degree in Public Law Litigation from the University of Panthéon Sorbonne.
A lawyer for more than fifteen years, Narito has a rich and diversified background. After obtaining a double master’s degree in French and English law (King’s College London and Paris I), he completed two post-graduate studies (in Environmental Law at Paris I and II and in Administrative Litigation at Paris I). He started his career as a lawyer at Faro & Gozlan, a firm dedicated to the representation of environmental NGOs (2006-2010). He then joined a renowned French law firm, August Debouzy (2010-2015), and then an international law firm, Eversheds Sutherland (2015-2021) where he was appointed partner in 2017. There he headed the environment and energy practice. Eager to return to a freer and more entrepreneurial practice, he co-founded HK legal with his friend and colleague François K’JAN in 2021.
Narito is a recognized expert in environmental law (certified specialist by the National Bar Council in 2015) and in renewable energy law. His advice is operational, concise and with high added value.
He assists players in the energy transition and industrial companies of all sectors, both French and international, in the development of their projects (regulatory aspects, administrative authorizations, energy supply), the life of their facilities (site modifications, formal notice, termination of activity, etc.) and in the acquisition and sale of industrial sites (legal risk audit, support for commercial negotiations on the environmental and energy aspects of M&A transactions). He has extensive experience in administrative jurisdictions and can also intervene before civil and criminal courts.
He is a member of the editorial board of the BDEI (Bulletin du droit de l’environnement industriel), treasurer of the CDAE (Club des avocats environnementalistes), and an active member of France Energie Eolienne and AFITE. Since 2005, he runs a blog on environmental law. On a more personal note, he is an active member of “Sud Paris Soleil citizen” a citizen initiative for solar power, which has just commissioned a 100 kW solar power plant on the roof of an elementary school.
Narito works in French and English. He also speaks Spanish and Japanese.
Publications: see the liste here
Rankings in Environment: Legal500 (“Next Generation Partners” and Band 2 for Eversheds Sutherland), Chambers 2020 (Band 3), Palmarès du droit (silver trophy in 2021, bronze in 2020 and 2019), Décideurs (Strong reputation in environmental litigation, Recognized practice in industrial environmental law, waste and polluted sites and soils), Best Lawyer in Environment.
Energy rankings: Legal500 (Band 2 for Eversheds Sutherland) and Décideurs (Strong reputation in renewable energies)
Client testimonials (Legal 500 EMEA, when Narito was a Partner at Eversheds Sutherland) :
‘The ability to deliver tailored legal solutions to clients based on current industry knowledge.’
‘The service provided by Louis-Narito Harada was excellent. He was willing to listen and provide a pragmatic solution based on the specific requirements of the client.’
‘ Very good responsiveness and understanding of the issues. Rigorous and clear.’
‘High expertise, responsiveness and availability were important assets in the management of our project.’
Jessie assists public bodies in the conclusion and performance of their contracts.
Having developed an expertise in litigation relating to public procurement, she regularly intervenes in the context of judicial expertise, pre-contractual summary proceedings or appeals on the merits (Tarn-et Garonne, appeals for compensation). She also manages pre-litigation and litigation matters in various areas of public law (civil service, public property, planning, etc.).
She also assists local authorities in the management of local public services, particularly in the water and sanitation sectors.
Admitted to the Paris Bar in 2016, she joined HK legal (formerly LKA avocats) in April 2017, after a first collaboration in a law firm and a significant experience in administrative jurisdiction.
After working in several companies’s legal department, and a first collaboration in an international law firm (Foley Hoag), Gaspard Terray joined HK legal in January 2022 as an associate
Gaspard Terray works on both litigation (before administrative, civil and criminal courts) and advisory matters having to do with environmental regulations (classified facilities, polluted sites, waste management) and also focuses on matters relating to renewable energies.
He also advises private and public entities in various areas of public law (public procurement contracts, regulated activities, urban planning).
After an experience at the Conseil d’Etat and the Constitutional Council, and a first collaboration in an international law firm (Eversheds Sutherland), Marie joined HK Legal in May 2021 as an associate.
She assists French and international clients in all their environmental law issues (life of classified facilities, polluted sites and soils, waste management, REACH regulations, administrative and criminal litigation) and intervenes in particular in the renewable energy sector, both as counsel and in litigation.
She also advises private and public entities in various areas of public law (award and performance of public procurement contracts, regulated activities, urban planning).
A member of the Paris Bar since 2021, Thomas is a graduate of the Master 2 in Economic Law [public contracts and PPPs] at the University of Paris Nanterre.
He mainly advises public and semi-public entities at all stages of their construction operations (financing, tendering, execution, compensation claims).
Prior to entering the profession, he worked for several years as a public law lawyer in a public administrative institution. This experience allowed him to acquire a thorough knowledge of the functioning of these structures and to understand the legal difficulties encountered daily by public purchasers. Thomas also completed several internships in law firms, during which he was able to put into practice his knowledge of public contract law and energy law.
Antoine graduated from the Master 2 Management of Local Authorities of the Institut d’Etudes Politiquesof Grenoble and from the Master 2 Public Economic Law of the Law School of Sciences Po.
After an experience in a consulting firm for local authorities, he joined LKA (now HK Legal) in 2018 as a lawyer and soon as an attorney at law.
He mainly assists public entities in the execution of their public works contracts for large-scale operations, as well as on various issues relating to the execution and awarding of public procurement contracts, both as an advisor and in pre-litigation situations (expert reports, mediations, etc.).
He is also involved in local authority law, on various subjects (inter-municipality, urban planning, public property, civil service, etc.).
- Assistance with the award of a CREM contract (Design Development Operation Maintenance) in the field of telecommunications. We assisted a local authority in translating its cost, time and performance requirements into a global procurement procedure. The firm then participated in the negotiation strategies inherent to this particular procedure and secured, at each stage, the associated legal constraints.
Valuation of the public property. Advising a French airport on the establishment of a multi-service real estate complex (offices, shops, hotel, etc.) on the airport public property. The support included the drafting of specifications, the selection procedure, and the creation and support of the dedicated project company.
- Departmental engineering entity. Support for a mixed open syndicate in its economic intervention methods with local authorities and EPCIs. The project involved a study of the appropriateness of each means of action to open up the services of a departmental entity, while respecting both the rules of public procurement (horizontal in-house in particular) and those of cooperation between territorial authorities, EPCI FP and mixed entities.
Road infrastructure. Advising a French region on a road infrastructure project worth almost €2 billion. This project is being carried out by the main French construction companies. After assisting the local authority during the tendering process, we are assisting it in monitoring the progress of the works and the associated litigation. The firm is especially involved in handling the numerous claims for compensation made by the holders of the various contracts.
Airport terminal. Since 2020, we have been advising a French airport in connection with an expansion project valued at approximately €80 million. We are advising our client both on the monitoring of the project management and on the implementation of the works contracts, which are quantitatively (18 lots) and technically important.
Work contracts related to research. Since 2014, we have been assisting a national public administrative institution. We advise this operator in the context of several litigation cases relating to the execution of public works contracts in the various centres of the establishment (18 regional centres spread throughout France). These disputes, relating to state-of-the-art infrastructures, involved the apprehension of highly technical matters.
- Setting up of a public easement to manage a contaminated industrial site. Advice to an industrial operator in the agrochemical sector on the implementation of a public easement related to groundwater pollution (“servitude d’utilité publique”). The context is particular since the neighboring former operator is also invited by the prefect to propose an easement for its own pollution plume, which is likely to overlap with the perimeter of our client, while sharing the same tracer elements. Legal analysis of this issue and assistance in reviewing the draft prefectoral order imposing the public easement and a management plan; analysis and revision of the public easement filing prepared by Antea group.
- Management of excavated soil and reply to an administrative formal notice. Representation of an operator in the asbestos removal and remediation sector in the context of a litigation against a prefectoral order providing a framework for the management and recovery of excavated soil on a development project. Strategic support to the same operator to obtain the modification of prefectoral orders governing the management of excavated soil. Exchanges with the Ministry for Ecologic transition and the Regional environmental authorities on the nature of the soil that can be recovered in the framework of a development project, on the interpretation and application of the DGPR/BRGM Guide on the off-site recovery of excavated soil from potentially polluted sites and soils in development projects (November 2017).
- Termination of activity and ”Environmental substitution” procedure. Advice to two ICPE operators (automotive and agricultural equipment) on the termination of activity, the dismantling of the industrial site and the sale of the land applying a procedure designed to transfer the environmental liability from the industrial operator to the real estate developer (the “Environmental substitution” procedure or “Third interested party” procedure). We explained the interest of the procedure to the real estate promoters, assisted the Sell side on the evaluation of the cost of remediation, drafted and negotiated the “substitution agreement”, the commitment to sell and the deed of sale, and advised the seller at all stages of the “Environmental substitution” procedure.
- Strategic litigation on a disputed industrial project. Representation of an industrial operator in the waste sector on a crisis situation related with the operation of a landfill project in Normandy. After its commissioning, the project was blocked by opponents for one year. We represented the operator in two governmental mediations and before all jurisdictions in about forty different proceedings: administrative (defending the operating permit, appealing against the State’s failure to evict the opponents), civil (judicial expertise on construction defects of the site) and criminal (defense on the lack of approval for the management of tire wastes), from the first instance to the supreme jurisdictions (Conseil d’Etat and Cour de cassation). A unique experience in the defense an industrial project. We assisted the same client with the day-to-day management of its 80 classified sites in France (Environmental and Health and Safety aspects) and the implementation of a charter of good practices, particularly in environmental matters.
- Acquisition of a major industrial activity. Advising an investment fund in the acquisition of the vinyl division of an industrial group (turnover of €1 billion, 2,600 employees, 6 industrial sites including SEVESO classified facilities, pipelines and a mining concession). Advice on the analysis of the risks associated with the acquisition (due diligence report), on the transfer of the operating permit, the mining concession, the greenhouse gas emission quotas, negotiation of the sale contract and the liability guarantee clauses.
- Green electricity procurement strategy and Corporate PPA. Advice to a railway operator on green electricity procurement strategy, in partnership with EY consulting. Operational analysis of three options and impacts in terms of carbon footprint: purchase of guarantees of origin; solar production on rooftops or parking shades with resale on the grid or self-consumption; purchase of green electricity via a corporate PPA (power purchase agreement). Accompanying the client in the implementation of the supply strategy through the preparation of the specifications and competitive bidding documents, drafting and negotiation of a corporate PPA.
- Acquisition of a portfolio of wind projects. Advising a leading Italian renewable energy company on the acquisition of a portfolio of wind farms under development for a total of 348 MW. Coordination and due diligence on energy and environment issues, analysis of ongoing litigation, advice on the conditions precedents of the Share Purchase Agreement. More recently for the same client, advice on the acquisition of an 18 MW “ready to build” wind farm. Coordination and due diligence on energy and environment, analysis of the project contracts, advice on the binding offer and the Share Purchase Agreement.
- Litigation on environmental permits in the renewable energy sector. Representation of a wind energy developer in various administrative disputes: appeal against two refusals of environmental authorizations (total or partial refusal) for landscape grounds, appeal in summary suspension and on the merits against a mayor’s order prohibiting the use of local roads.
- Advice on hydropower and water law. Advice to an independent power producer on the chances of success of the renewal of a water right necessary for the operation of a hydroelectric power plant, within the framework of the acquisition of a portfolio of hydropower projects. The question was more specifically about the issues of ecological continuity of watercourses and the scope of the rules of a Water Development and Management Scheme on this point. Our analysis allowed the client to decide on the acquisition of the project and the price to be proposed with regard to the risk of losing the water right in 2028.
- Advice on installation on public properties. Advice to an Independant Power Producer in the Renewables sector on the contractual and procedural terms and conditions for the installation of photovoltaic panels on roofs of buildings, in shades or on agricultural greenhouses within public and private property. Support on a legal, technical and financial strategy in order not to be obliged to go through a competitive tender process or selection procedure prior to this installation. Support on this strategy in metropolitan and overseas France.
Creation of SEMOP (Société d’économie mixte à opération unique). Alongside our technical and financial partner, participation in the creation of one of the first SEMOPs in the water sector. Assistance from the selection phase of the private shareholder to the awarding of the concession contract, the sole purpose of the company, including the complete drafting of the articles of association and the handling of personnel issues, the setting up of governance, and contribution to the development of this public-private collaboration tool.
GEMAPI competence (gestion des milieux aquatiques et la prévention des inondations). Within the framework of the transfer of competences provided for by the relevant laws, support for a local authority in the implementation of the GEMAPI competence. The particularities of the territory on the scale of which this mission was carried out allowed a study of GEMAPI in all its dimensions. We were thus confronted with issues of aquatic environment management (within, in particular, a nature reserve and a wetland), but also of flood risk management (definition and regulation of diking systems) and coastline recession.
Transfer of competences. Regular interventions for a complete accompaniment of EPCI (établissement public de coopération intercommunale) in the taking of water and sanitation competences . The assignments cover both the stages linked to the transfer of the competence (questions linked to the transfer of assets, personnel, debts and receivables) and the exercise of the competence (choice of management method, withdrawal from a syndicate within the framework of the common law procedure). In particular, the firm assisted a community of agglomerations in the implementation of a procedure derogating from article L. 5216-7 of the CGCT and obtained a favourable decision from the Prefect.
Water tariffs. Intervention on sectoral issues related to water tariffs. Conducting a study to identify different contractual and institutional mechanisms to harmonise water tariffs in a geographical area where the public drinking water service is provided by two separate EPCIs, taking into account the specificities of financing a public service for public interest.
Marketing authorisations. Advice to a national public administrative institution in charge of issuing marketing authorisations and assistance in the context of appeals for annulment and compensation against refusals of marketing authorisation applications.
Communication of administrative documents of a scientific nature. Assistance to a national public health institution in the implementation of the different phases of a scientific investigation and a monitoring system aimed at determining the effects on the health of local residents following the fire at the Lubrizol factory in Rouen. Within this framework, treatment of problems relating to the communicability of scientific documents at various stages of their preparation.
Product compliance. Advising a luxury brand on the compliance of products before they are placed on the market. Our analyses cover compliance with technical regulations relating to safety, hygiene and the environment (REACH, CLP, RoHS, etc.). We analyse the residual risks in the event of minor non-compliance and formulate recommendations, in particular on labelling and warnings for the consumers.
- Works in classified and Natura 2000 site. Assistance and audit of a planning application for a ground-mounted solar power plant and a wind turbine, connected to energy storage systems, in a sensitive area: classified site, Natura 2000 zone and a remarkable area under the law protecting coastal areas. Coordination with the architect and the environmental consulting firm, support with the administration (prefectural and municipal services in Brittany) in order to obtain the permits and follow-up of the technical prescriptions. The project constitutes a demonstrator of the technical and legal feasibility of an energy autonomy project in an insular environment.
- Litigation on planning documents. Litigation against the Local planning document (“PLU”) of Andernos les Bains on behalf of a local association. PLU annulled by the Administrative Court of Appeal of Bordeaux, in particular because of excessive extension of urbanization.
- Litigation on a planning permit. Litigation against a building permit for a 42-unit housing complex in Gentilly. Negotiation of a settlement agreement with the beneficiary of the permit.
- Commercial development. Assisting a manager of small supermarkets in the Hauts de France to obtain a Commercial Operation Permit (drafting of the report before the public authority, improvement of the project with regard to the criteria of land planning, sustainable development and consumer protection) and advice on possible disputes with competitors in neighbouring territories. This part of the mission was particularly interesting since it consisted in developing a strategy to force other project developers to submit to the supervision of the departmental authority (implementation of the submission procedure with the elected officials, challenge of building permits that lacked a Commercial Operation Permit for similar projects, etc. ).
- Feasibility study of an expropriation. Advice to a national public research establishment in the perpetuation of its installation on one of its sites in New Aquitaine by implementing an expropriation procedure for public utility. HK legal designed the feasibility study for the expropriation, particularly with regard to planning constraints and various rural law issues.