2022 saw a rise in corporate regulatory proceedings according to Norton Rose Fulbright’s Annual Litigation Survey. Half of respondents were involved in at least one type of regulatory proceeding last year, and more than one-third expect such proceedings to increase in 2023.

The survey also reveals heightened litigation risk in key areas: labor, cyber and data protection and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The report also explores class actions in greater depth, revealing fresh insights into an area that more than one-third of respondents identified as a critical concern in 2023.

This year’s report is based on a survey of more than 430 general counsel and in-house litigation leaders, based in the United States and Canada, in industries such as financial services, energy, healthcare and technology.

Highlights include:

  • 65% of respondents reported employment and labor disputes in 2022. They also ranked it first among the most concerning areas in the year ahead, amid increased enforcement actions, rising unionization activity and a heightened focus on social justice and DEI.
  • Cybersecurity, data protection and data privacy are also top of mind, with one-third of respondents experiencing litigation in this area last year. It was the number two area in which respondents expect dispute exposure to increase in 2023.
  • More than one-quarter of respondents (28%) said their exposure to environmental, social and governance (ESG) litigation increased in 2022, and 24% expect increased exposure in the coming year. 
  • Class action activity and risk parallel the broader litigation landscape, with employment and labor identified as the most common type of class action encountered in 2022. It was also the leading area of future concern when it comes to class actions, followed by cybersecurity, data protection and data privacy, while ESG ranked third.
  • Healthcare, including life sciences, and retail were the leading industries when it comes to an expected uptick in regulatory proceedings, with 46% and 45% of respondents in those respective sectors predicting an increase in the coming year.
  • 36% of corporate counsel surveyed expect to increase the number of in-house litigators in 2023, up from 22% the previous year. 

A comprehensive report detailing the survey’s findings is available.