Catherine Warburton BA LLB LLM (cum laude) established IMBEWU Sustainability Legal Specialists (Pty) Ltd and Warburton Attorneys in the year 2000 and has acted as the Managing Partner of Warburton Attorneys and the Managing Director of IMBEWU for twenty years. (See www.imbewu.co.za and www.warburtons.co.za.) Warburton Attorneys Inc was established in 2019.
Catherine has more than twenty years of practical experience in the relatively new field of sustainability law in South Africa. Although her initial training was that of a litigation attorney, her experience was later developed across a broad spectrum of infrastructure development and mining projects. She has also assisted NGO groups and government with legal advice and has provided input into governmental policy development in South Africa. Catherine was involved in the environmental legal aspects of the Gautrain Project as specialist advisor since from 2002 to 2014 and has advised on a number of other development projects and climate and energy related projects.
Whilst working as in-house Environmental Legal Counsel for Anglo American she completed a two and a half year international sustainable development training programme in 2001 entitled LEAD i.e. Leadership for the Environment and Development. In 2012 Catherine completed a Sustainability Reporting Course, certified by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). In 2013 she completed the GRI Certified Course based on the G4 reporting guidelines. Catherine completed her dissertation for her Master of Laws at Wits University in 2014 with distinction. The title of her dissertation was, “Evaluating South African EIA processes in the context of the Gautrain Project”.
Catherine has developed specific expertise in the area of climate change. She has attended UNFCCC meetings as a South African business representative and has worked on greenhouse gas mitigation and reporting projects in South Africa. She presents papers and training courses on a wide range of sustainability legal issues in South Africa. She provides strategic legal advice at the Board level, is currently advising on a number of mine closure projects and is acting in a criminal environmental prosecution. She is running a number of High Court litigious matters related to environmental issues.
Catherine has managed much of the renewable energy work that Warburton Attorneys has been involved in, which includes numerous environmental legal due diligence investigations of wind and solar energy facilities. Warburton Attorneys has also conducted energy-related environmental legal due diligence investigations focusing on the storage of fuel, as well as the independent procurement of coal-based power. She has provided various renewable energy projects with on-going environmental legal advice on authorisation processes, appeals and risk management and has reviewed Bids to ensure compliance with the REIPPP requirements.
From 2007 - 2012 the Practical Law Company in London rated Catherine as a “highly recommended” attorney in the field of environmental law in South Africa. From 2013 - 2020 Catherine Warburton has been listed as one of the Best Environmental Lawyers in South Africa by Best Lawyers SA. She was ranked in the Chambers & Partners Guide (Environmental) on Band One from 2016 to 2020 and Who’s Who Legal (Environmental) and in Who’s Who Legal (Mining) in SA in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The Chambers 2020 Guide indicates that her peers praise her as "extremely approachable while simultaneously being an expert in environmental law with vast amounts of experience," and describe her as "methodical, meticulous, experienced and efficient." Catherine serves as the vice-Chairperson of the Law Society of South Africa’s Committee for Environmental Law and has served as a member of the Gauteng MEC’s External EIA Appeals Advisory Panel between April 2015 to February 2019.