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britons are well off after lord young’s resignation or not? November 20, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : truth , add a comment

Lord Young, the author of the recent Common Sense, Common Safety report, resigned as adviser to the UK Government after stating in an interview that:

For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started, because anybody, most people with a mortgage who were paying a lot of money each month, suddenly started paying very little each month.

His resignation letter states that he resigns, not because what he said suggested complete incomprehension of the situation ordinary Britons now face, but:

in view of the reaction to the reporting of the interview I gave earlier this week

Not his fault, but the fault of those who heard what he said. And this from an adviser to a Government which claims to be eliminating quangos to increase transparency and accountability. But is it really better for Governments to be careful about what they and their advisers say in front of journalists or for voters to be able to hear their private and uninformed prejudices?

asil international economic law in minnesota November 17, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : events , add a comment

Tomorrow I’m going to Minnesota for the ASIL International Economic Law Interest Group Conference (I’m giving a paper on consultation in transnational standard-setting). It will be much colder there than it is here in Miami.

asil meets in miami November 11, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : events , add a comment

The American Society of International Law is meeting in Miami this week (the program is here and the UM announcement is here).

developments in clearing November 10, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

The CPSS has published a report on Market structure developments in the clearing industry: implications for financial stability (which focuses on “traditional markets” and OTC derivatives markets). Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank critiques the CFTC’s proposals for Requirements for Derivatives Clearing Organizations, Designated Contract Markets, and Swap Execution Facilities Regarding the Mitigation of Conflicts of Interest.

conflict between transparency and rights to protection of personal data November 10, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

Transparency is a Good Thing, but the EU’s Court of Justice has held in Volker und Markus Schecke GbR (Cases C-92/09 and C-93/09) that the publication of details of the recipients of agricultural aid, while promoting transparency, conflicts with the recipients’ rights to protection of their personal data. The Court stated that by aiming to increase the transparency of the use of funds in the context of the CAP, the relevant regulations did pursue an objective of general interest recognized by the European Union, however the EU institutions did not satisfy the requirements of proportionality because they did not balance transparency with aid recipients’ rights to protection of their personal data:

Regard being had to the fact that derogations and limitations in relation to the protection of personal data must apply only in so far as is strictly necessary.. and that it is possible to envisage measures which affect less adversely that fundamental right of natural persons and which still contribute effectively to the objectives of the European Union rules in question, it must be held that, by requiring the publication of the names of all natural persons who were beneficiaries of EAGF and EAFRD aid and of the exact amounts received by those persons, the Council and the Commission exceeded the limits which compliance with the principle of proportionality imposes.

Legal persons don’t have the same sort of rights, so publication of information about their receipt of aid is acceptable. Corporations don’t have the same sort of rights to private life that natural persons do. And presumably this would apply even where the legal person had one owner. Another factor to bear in mind when deciding whether or not to incorporate. The Court says legal persons are in any case subject to “a more onerous obligation in respect of the publication of data relating to them.”

Because many disclosures have been made based on an understanding that the regulations providing disclosure were valid, the Court limits the ability of those subject to past disclosure to bring claims:

In view of the large number of publications which have taken place in the Member States on the basis of rules which were regarded as being valid, it must be held that the invalidity of the provisions mentioned in paragraph 92 of the present judgment does not allow any action to be brought to challenge the effects of the publication of the lists of beneficiaries of EAGF and EAFRD aid carried out by the national authorities on the basis of those provisions during the period prior to the date on which the present judgment is delivered.

gory public bodies bill November 4, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

The Public Bodies Bill (horrible title) is criticized today by the Select Committee on the Constitution:

The Government has not made out the case as to why the vast range and number of statutory bodies affected by this Bill should be abolished, merged or modified by force only of ministerial order, rather than by ordinary legislative amendment and debate in Parliament. As we have said, and as is axiomatic, the ordinary constitutional position in the United Kingdom is that primary legislation is amended or repealed only by Parliament. Further, it is a fundamental principle of the constitution that parliamentary scrutiny of legislation is allowed to be effective. While we acknowledge that exceptions are permitted – as in the case of fast-track legislation, for example – we have also sought to ensure that such exceptions are used only where the need for them is clearly set out and justified. As we have said, the use of Henry VIII powers, while accepted in certain, limited circumstances, remains a departure from constitutional principle. Departures from constitutional principle should be contemplated only where a full and clear explanation and justification is provided.

And, if that isn’t enough:

The Public Bodies Bill [HL] strikes at the very heart of our constitutional system, being a type of ‘framework’ or ‘enabling’ legislation that drains the lifeblood of legislative amendment and debate across a very broad range of public arrangements. In particular, it hits directly at the role of the House of Lords as a revising chamber.
.. The Public Bodies Bill [HL] is concerned with the design, powers and functions of a vast range of public bodies, the creation of many of which was the product of extensive parliamentary debate and deliberation. We fail to see why such parliamentary debate and deliberation should be denied to proposals now to abolish or to redesign such bodies.

I suppose that if you use the word bodies in a bill title you are just asking for responses invoking blood and guts.

uk independent banking commission public meetings November 4, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

The Independent Commission on Banking announced that it wants to stimulate a wide debate. It is holding a series of public meetings as part of this effort:

Leeds, 4pm on 19th November 2010. The event will be hosted by the Leeds University Business School and be chaired by Clare Spottiswoode.
Edinburgh, 6pm on 22nd November 2010. The event will be hosted by the David Hume Institute, at the Playfair Library. Bill Winters will chair the discussion, and panellists will include representatives from Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as Bill Jamieson from the Scotsman and Professor Marcus Miller of Warwick University.
London, 3pm on 2nd December 2010. The event will be hosted by the Confederation of British Industry, chaired by Sir John Vickers and introduced by Richard Lambert. The panel will include John Varley, Chief Executive of Barclays.
Cardiff, in early December 2010. The event will be hosted by the Welsh Assembly Government at the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay and be chaired by Martin Wolf. The event will focus on the banking needs of small and medium enterprises.
London, 6pm on 13th December 2010. The event will be hosted by Consumer Focus, will look mainly at consumer and retail issues and be chaired by Martin Taylor.

The press notice has contact details to arrange attendance.