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5 principles of Better Regulation

A cornerstone of better regulation is the five principles of good regulation. The principles state that any regulation should be:

  • Transparent
  • Accountable
  • Proportionate
  • Consistent
  • Targeted

Additional context on the better regulation principles is set out below:

Consistency - rules and standards must be joined up and implemented fairly.

  • Regulators should be consistent with each other, and work together in a joined-up way.
  • New regulations should take account of other existing or proposed regulations, whether of domestic, EU or international origin.
  • Regulation should be predictable in order to give reasonable stability and certainty to those being regulated.
  • Enforcement agencies should (work together to) apply regulations consistently across the country.

Transparency -  be open and keep regulations (and how they are implemented) simple and user- friendly.

  • Policy objectives, including the need for regulation, should be clearly defined and effectively communicated to all interested parties.
  • Effective consultation must take place before proposals are developed, to ensure that stakeholders’ views and expertise are taken into account.
  • Stakeholders should be given at least 12 weeks, and sufficient information, to respond to consultations.
  • Regulations should be clear and simple.
  • Those being regulated should be made aware of their obligations, with law and best practice clearly distinguished.
  • Those being regulated should be given the time and support to comply. It may be helpful to supply examples of methods of compliance.
  • The consequences of non-compliance should be made clear.

Accountability -  be able to justify decisions and be subject to public scrutiny.

  • Proposals should be published and all those affected consulted before decisions are taken.
  • Explain how and why final decisions have been reached.
  • Regulators and enforcers should establish clear standards and criteria against which they can be judged.
  • There should be well-publicised, accessible, fair and effective complaints and appeals procedures, underpinned by  clear lines of accountability to Ministers, Parliaments and assemblies, and the public.

Proportionality - only intervene when necessary. Remedies should be appropriate to the risk posed and costs identified and minimised.

  • Policy solutions must be proportionate to the perceived problem or risk and justify the compliance costs imposed – don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
  • All the options for achieving policy objectives must be considered – not just prescriptive regulation. Alternatives may be more effective and cheaper to apply.
  •  “Think small first”. Regulation can have a disproportionate impact on small businesses, which account for most Scottish businesses.
  • EC Directives should be transposed without gold plating.
  • Enforcement regimes should be proportionate to the risk posed; and regulators should consider an empowering and educational, rather than a punitive approach where possible.

Targeting - regulation should be focused on the problem and minimise side effects.

  • Regulations should focus on the problem and avoid a scattergun approach.
  • Where appropriate, regulators should adopt an outcomes approach, with enforcers and those being regulated given flexibility in deciding how to meet clear, unambiguous targets.
  • Guidance and support should be adapted to the needs of different groups.
  • Regulators should focus primarily on those whose activities give rise to the most serious risks.
  • Regulations should be systematically reviewed to test whether they are still necessary and effective. If not, they should be modified or eliminated.

Gold plating is a term used to describe the process where a basic EU directive is given extra strength when being incorporated into UK law.