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uk register of beneficial ownership to be publicly accessible October 31, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

There has been a dramatic contrast between the US and the UK with respect to transparency of public corporations/companies. The SEC’s Edgar system is searchable, and has generated initiatives such as LawInsider’s contracts database (the founder, Preston Clark, is a UM Law alum). Although the UK’s Companies House even has a mobile app which provides free access to some information, the information is limited. Now the UK announces that it proposes to enhance transparency by establishing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership of UK companies (a July 2013 discussion paper introduced the idea, but the decision to make the register publicly accessible is new, and is being announced before the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills issues its formal response to comments on the discussion paper, seemingly because the Open Government Partnership Summit is currently happening in London). So, more corporate transparency to come in the UK, although there will continue to be differences in transparency between the US and the UK.

courts and the executive: control, legal certainty, sub-delegation October 30, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

From the judgment of Lords Mance and Toulson in the UK Supreme Court today in R (on the application of Reilly and another) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The courts have no more important function than to ensure that the executive complies with the requirements of Parliament as expressed in a statute. Further, particularly where the statute concerned envisages regulations which will have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of many people, the importance of legal certainty and the impermissibility of sub-delegation are of crucial importance. The observations of Scott LJ in Blackpool Corporation v Locker [1948] 1 KB 349, 362 are in point: “John Citizen” should not be “in complete ignorance of what rights over him and his property have been secretly conferred by the minister”, as otherwise “[f]or practical purposes, the rule of law … breaks down because the aggrieved subject’s legal remedy is gravely impaired”.

more calls for evidence for the balance of competences review October 30, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

After October 21’s mass request for evidence across a range of different areas, today’s call is for evidence about social and employment policy (responses due by January 17, 2014), and last week it was for evidence about energy policy (responses due by January 15, 2014). As Mark Easton wrote the other day, the Government does not always pay much attention to views expressed in response to consultations. But perhaps to the extent that these calls for evidence generate factual examples which confirm the views of the Government these exercises will be a bit different.

sec crowdfunding proposals October 23, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

All 585 pages of them are here. Public comments may be submitted via this page. The SEC notes:

We understand that these proposed rules, if adopted, could significantly affect the viability of crowdfunding as a capital-raising method for startups and small businesses. Rules that are unduly burdensome could discourage participation in crowdfunding. Rules that are too permissive, however, may increase the risks for individual investors, thereby undermining the facilitation of capital raising for startups and small businesses.

drone strikes October 22, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : fundamental rights , add a comment

My walk to school this morning was overshadowed by a loud helicopter hovering overhead. It made me think of Amnesty International’s report, “Will I be Next?”.

review of the relationship between the uk and the eu continues October 21, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

The UK Government has announced a number of reviews as part of its ongoing review of the balance of competences described as “an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK.” Contributions are now invited by January 13, 2014 to the review of the single market in services, cohesion, agriculture, fisheries, competition and consumer policy, and fundamental rights. Contributions are invited by January 17, 2014 for the reviews of financial services and the free movement of capital and the EU budget.

friday question: should law students be reading literature? October 4, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : law , add a comment

This New York Times piece, reporting on David Kidd and Emanuele Castano‘s article, Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind suggests that the answer may be yes.

improved consultations October 3, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

Two examples of what I would like to see more of in consultations: from the EU’s crowdfunding consultation, and the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) consultation on the regulation of consumer credit. Although comments can currently be submitted to the EU crowdfunding consultation in English only the web page suggests that it will soon be possible to submit comments in German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Polish. The consultation landing page seems to be available only in English French and German, and right now it seems that the consultation document is only available in English. So there is some improvement in terms of openness to comments from people who don’t write English (who presumably will rely on online sources and newspapers for information about the consultation). Increasing the amount of translation would enhance transparency further.

The FCA’s consumer credit consultation explicitly invites comments from regular people:

The majority of adults in the UK are customers, or potential customers, of financial services firms. So anyone may be interested in commenting on how we propose to regulate consumer credit firms.

And there’s an outline of the proposals in addition to the 193 page consultation document and 429 pages of appendices. But although the FCA seems to be trying to communicate with people and not just with regulated firms, this article in the Guardian which describes some aspects of the proposals does not encourage people to comment on them but rather seems to present the proposed new rules as a done deal. The Independent takes a similar approach, although an article on the Express website states that “a consultation is open until December 3 and the FCA will publish its final rules and guidance in February.” Which? announced that it is collecting consumers’ stories of their experiences with the credit industry to share them with the FCA.

lady hale on women judges October 2, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : gender , add a comment

From the Independent:

Lady Justice Hale, who is still the only woman amongst the 12 Supreme Court judges, said: “While I am flattered and proud to have been the first woman to have been appointed as a law lord in 2004, I don’t want to be the last. I’m disappointed that in the 10 years since I was appointed, not one among the 13 subsequent appointments to this court has been a woman.”

cake, anyone? October 1, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : inequality , add a comment

Or, rather, home-baked granary bread made from locally sourced flour (anyone can do it, and it’s better for you). And there’s more austerity to come.