Friday, November 10, 2006

Something must NOT be done

After the passage through the House of Commons of the largest bill in British political history, our legislators seem shell-shocked.

This is only the latest Companies Act to be addressed by Parliament in recent years. We have also had several Criminal Justice Acts too.

The problem is that too many MPs do not see that regulation can be done implicitly through the interpretation of principle and existing Acts of Parliament and are determined to create explicit and micro-detailed Acts of Parliament- "some thing must be done about...".

This is very dangerous and removes much flexibility and, in the case of the new Companies Act may hamper the competitiveness of many British companies, especially small businesses that now have to comply with a mountain of detailed regulation.

Some may see Nick Clegg's call for a Great Repeal Act as a bit gimmicky- I for one welcome it, and I notice that the general reception has been very positive.

Perhaps the tide is turning- I certainly hope so, before blogging gets regulated by some Act...


Anonymous said...

There's many many laws which need repealing, not just the civil liberties ones...

Too many people think that good law can only come handed down from legislators, whereas the best law is evolved from custom and case law.

Then again, there's a desire in some to regulate every aspect of our lives, something seemingly shared by some in the LibDems...

Unfortunately its not only Westminster which has legislative diarrhoea, Edinburgh and Cardiff are likely to, and Brussels definitely has a bad case of it (spurred on by national parliaments in many cases...)

Gavin Whenman said...

"This is only the latest Companies Act to be addressed by Parliament in recent years."

The last Companies Act was passed in 1985. Hardly recent years.

"Too many people think that good law can only come handed down from legislators, whereas the best law is evolved from custom and case law."

Um... Yes and no. The common law has lead us into some odd places (i.e. R v Brown - the offence was a statutory one, the interpretation was a common law one) and I believe there needs to be a balance between the two (with Parliament largely confined to the role of altering common law mistakes - as was the original intent).

Cicero said...

Quite right, I should have said "Companies legislation", the conduct of business is also a matter for the Financial Services and Markets Act, recruitment discrimination provisions, health and safety orders amongst many others.

Anonymous said...

In response to Tristan, custom and case law are clearly not the best basis for technical legislation. It is plain wrong that the best laws stem from customary or case law. The test for "good law", in a legal sense, is whether it creates legal certainty. It is in the interplay of judge and legislator that certainty is created. As to the content of laws - surely you would not want to leave the substance of law to a bunch of wig-wearing patricians and their view on what is customary (cunstomary among who and where and by whose standard?)

Anyway, the Companies Bill is far too long. How can a consolidating act get that long?

Bob Deed said...

The regulatory burden borne by business, especially small business, is widely recognised, but the burden on public services is often forgotten. This is often generated by politicians and civil servants in Whitehall as well as the regulators and inspectors.

I'm not belittling the burden on small businesses. (I'm starting my own, so I know!)

I know from my areas of work that there are moves towards "better regulation" in housing and further
education. But these tend to be incremental rather than radical.

There needs to be a framework of regulation and inspection, but choice and voice for users must be put centre stage.

Does it make sense that the smallest sixth form colleges with a turnover of acouple of million, should be obliged to appoint an internal audit firm? They have external auditors as well as visits from the regulatory LSC. Businesses much larger don't have to bear such expenditure.