Now I feel more comfortable about this blog site , off we go. Firstly, thanks to Justin W. and Clare B. for getting this site up and running for me and sorting out my first posts! All errors from now on are mine alone. I have to admit as a non-blogger to date,  I am still wrestling with the inter-connection between this site, linked in and twitter ( but never facebook).

I hope to write about a whole range of issues including ,  in no particular order,  common sense ( or lack of it ) and the law .For example why it has taken a group of lawyers several days to work out the process for issuing a small claim against a major international airline.

Gould’s mantra is certainly a topic on which I would welcome comments. Allied to that is how we can develop  our ” silo -smashing ” conference later this year . The idea is to bring together those interested who come from different “silos” to share ideas they might have in common. Silos include , practioners ,academics, those who use legal services ( clients!) and the Whitehall/Westminster machine..why are silos so prevalent in this country ?

The Good Law Initiative is a third inter-connected theme. Much more to follow on this.

Apart from that how to fund SMEs in the fashion sector and how to support Kids Company ,are high on my agenda.

 

 

 

Real examples

As promised in my first post, here are some real examples as suggested by clients which go straight to the heart of issues raised by the Good Law Initiative.

The Auto Enrolment for pensions is a nightmare. How the Government can shift the emphasis of this traditionally state run function to the private sector is shocking. The cost to our tiny [about 90 employees] business will be £25,000 in pension contributions but the cost of implementation will be many times that . We have to opt them in to opt them out.  I have a foreign workforce – they won’t even understand pensions so that’s another cost (interpreters).

And

The law relating to eligibility for criminal records check is enormously and unnecessarily complex and inaccessible. There are three levels of criminal record check including Standard Disclosure. The relevant Order was amended just once in the years between 1975 and 2001. Since 2001 the English and Welsh version of the Order has been amended by thirteen different statutory instruments.

Perfect examples of an inability by those who produce laws to understand the effects of continuous amendments (whether necessary or not is not the point here) on the end users. Any of the taxation laws could be used as an example here.

A connected point is the real difficulty of end users, most of whom have no legal training, to access the relevant rules. A so called rolling process of trying to “ fix “ things, for whatever reason by introducing ever more rules, is never helpful.

What is the effect of “bad law”?

With the added responsibility of ensuring, employment, health and safety and compliance law et al is adhered to, the twenty- something entrepreneur is looking the other way This leaves him and his company open to action from the government, disgruntled employees and the taxman as well as attack from bigger established organisations.

This ostrich approach ‘I can’t deal with all this stuff, so I will pretend it doesn’t exist’ brings the law into disrepute.

Often people don’t believe that there is a real reason (rather than a “something must be done reason”) behind the rules. As one client suggested

…and dare I say it, my very strong suspicion is that the legislation has caused a large proportion of compliance work to become  a box ticking task [ and here we only really need to mention as a group “ the banks and the regulators ” , to understand the disastrous effects when regulations are reduced to box-ticking ] with no real thought as to what they are trying to do; good old professionalism is a far more productive way to identify potential  problems

What is the true reason for of all this law?

Many people would suggest it is how the politicians prove their “worth or value”. Although perhaps more thought and less rules might be a better option.

Micro–managing the laws relating to business will continue to put a massive financial burden on SMEs and their owners / managers. Laws relating to business should not assume everyone or even most people are “bad”. The bad guys will break the rules anyway and probably, get away with it!

This was never intended to start as a cry for common sense in and throughout the legislative process … perhaps it should have been.

Good law Initiative

The Good Law Initiative (GLI) has come out of the vision of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC). It would like people who use the law to experience so called good law (wouldn’t we all). We need law that is:-

  • Necessary
  • Clear
  • Coherent
  • Effective
  • Accessible

My Involvement

OPC asked people in government, in parliament, as well as people in the world of business to think about good law. I am a corporate lawyer who has been writing and lecturing on these issues for some time.

As part of my involvement in this project I was asked to say something to a group from the Cabinet Office about the problem of volume and complexity of law (and resulting issues of lack of compliance and enforcement) from the perspective of real life users.

My Approach

My basic mantra is as follows, and it applies to just about every part of the legal system. I believe we have:-

  • Too much law
  • Too much bad/complex law
  • Laws which are unenforceable
  • Laws which are unenforced

The Target

This initiative has small and medium sized companies in mind.

In my opinion, what often tends to be missing from these discussions is feedback from the 99 per cent of these businesses.

There are over 4 million SMEs, employing up to 249 people, and make up about 48 per cent of private sector turnover and employ over 13 million people. They are an extremely important part of the economy, and as such should be rewarded with a voice on matters which affect them.

Further Information

In my next post I will offer a couple of examples from clients which go to the heart of issues raised by this initiative.