Better regulation, administrative sanctions and constitutional values

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4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper interrogates the predisposition in favour of informal, low-intervention control styles of enforcement advocated by the ‘better regulation’ movement, and which resonates throughout the Hampton Report recommendations which are currently being implemented in the UK. It focuses on three practices that reflect the trend towards diverting regulatory enforcement action away from the courts in favour of reliance on formal administrative sanctioning powers ranging from ‘hard’ to ‘soft’: the use of negotiated penalty settlements, the acceptance of administrative undertakings (‘enforcement undertakings’) and the provision of firm-specific compliance advice by regulators. Each practice is explored through various analytical lenses which enable the underlying constitutional tensions to be identified and interrogated. In so doing, it demonstrates how the emphasis on bargaining, negotiation and discussions between regulators and those they are responsible for regulating advocated by the UK better regulation movement may antagonise several constitutional values, including transparency, accountability, due process and participation, as well as several values associated with formal conceptions of the rule of law. On the other hand, resort to negotiation and discussion in regulatory enforcement can generate important benefits, largely in facilitating the timely, creative and cost-effective resolution of enforcement disputes while avoiding the formality, delay and hostility associated with formal court adjudication. This ‘clash of logics’ can be traced to inherent differences between bargaining, on the one hand, and adjudication on the other. Bargaining and adjudication represent two quite different and distinct forms of ordering through which disputes can be resolved, and it is these differences that lie at the foundation of their respective virtues and shortcomings when employed to resolve disputes concerning regulatory violations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312–339
JournalLegal Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


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