Regulation, Law and Government

Private Rights and Public Responsibilities: Recent developments in Scots water law

Water law has been the subject of considerable attention in the Scottish Parliament since its re-establishment in 1999, with five Water Acts passed in that time. 
 
This policy brief examines these recent reforms and considers whether there has been a shift from private rights to private responsibilities, or perhaps, from private rights to public rights, over water resources in Scotland.
 
The brief will also consider what lessons may be learned in England from the introduction in Scotland of limited competition in retail services in the business sector, also now part of the current reform package being developed in England. 
 
The policy brief concludes that water has, de facto if not explicitly in the law, moved from the private to the public domain. Holders of land which includes water will still have some special status, but the power to control the resource as a matter of public interest is incontrovertible. 
 

Ranking and Regulating: Markets and Hierarchies in the Governance of Higher Education Today

Professor Colin Scott, University College Dublin, will present his findings of a comparative study of the regulation of higher education conducted in the early noughties, in which he analysed the contrasting patterns of four modes of oversight based in oversight, competition, mutuality, and contrived randomness.

The International Adoption of Ethical Business Regulation

The International Adoption of Ethical Business Regulation

This Policy Brief is the latest in a series on Ethical Business Practice (EBP) and Ethical Business Regulation (EBR). It summarizes current thinking on these topics, based on a Conference held at Wolfson College, Oxford on 4 May 2018.

Drawing on the scientific findings of behavioural psychology research, the authors find that there is little empirical evidence that traditional theories of deterrence affect future business behaviour, and that a collaborative, positive approach between business and regulators is most effective in improving behaviour along ethical lines. 

Traditional policy on encouraging private enforcement of law is based on deterrence, and approaches to enforcement and hence regulation produce an adversarial culture. While some public regulatory and enforcement authorities cling to deterrence as their sole policy, a number of authorities in some countries (led by the UK) have moved to a supportive approach, as a result of practical experience and the impact of Better Regulation policy.

The policy brief identifies the civil aviation industry as leading the way in adopting an open, just (no blame) culture, which is essential if performance is to be maintained. The initiation of ethical business practice (EBP) has to come from the businesses themselves, individually or in sectors, and based on the organizational values as identified at all levels within the organizational structure, rather than as a 'tick box' or compliance-based approach.

The policy brief concludes with implications of the findings for policymakers, calling on politicians to support an EBP/EBR policy, as has already been the case in Scotland, where senior Scottish ministers have indicated that they will follow a no-blame approach. 

 
 

Modern Slavery and Migrant Domestic Workers: The Politics of Legal Characterization

This policy brief outlines the problem of addressing the long-standing exploitation of migrant domestic workers by using a modern slavery and trafficking approach which is embedded in the criminal law. It explains why migrant domestic workers who enter the UK on temporary visas are vulnerable to exploitation by their employers.

Judy Fudge argues that moves by the current government to close national borders to 'unskilled' migrants have backfired. Instead, she recommends a multipronged strategy designed to regulate the labour market, which includes:

  • the UK government’s ratification of the ILO's Domestic Workers Convention;
  • establishing a centralized and well-funded labour inspectorate; and
  • creating a firewall between immigration controls and the enforcement of labour rights.