Business regulation

We want to make it easier to do business in Scotland by improving our regulatory environment and making Scotland more competitive.

Better Regulation

Our Better Regulation agenda aims to reduce unnecessary burdens on business by ensuring all regulation follows the Better Regulation principles of being:

  • proportionate
  • consistent
  • accountable
  • transparent
  • targeted only where needed

The principles of Better Regulation apply to all regulation – whether it be voluntary or statutory.

Better Regulation is supported by a range of measures including:

  • Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs)
  • voluntary regulation
  • the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014
  • the Scottish Regulators' Strategic Code of Practice
  • regulators including local government
  • the Regulatory Review Group

At the outset of any policy development, non-regulatory options such as voluntary regulation should always be considered and a BRIA completed to ensure the costs and benefits of each option are fully considered and compared.

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs)

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs) help to assess the likely costs, benefits and risks of any proposed primary or secondary legislation, voluntary regulation, codes of practice, or guidance that may have an impact on the public, private or third sector.

Partial BRIAs should be carried out at consultation stage. The final BRIA builds on the partial BRIA and the consultation analysis. Both of these BRIAs require Ministerial sign-off.

In general, we would always recommend and encourage the completion of a BRIA as best practice. The BRIA helps assess the impact of new legislation, as well as other changes such as voluntary guidance or policy changes, even where they do not necessarily present additional obvious burdens. In such cases it can either help confirm understanding that the impact will not change or identify and address unintended impacts which have not been identified. The content of a BRIA should be proportionate to the problem involved and the size of the proposal.

Voluntary regulation

We sometimes sponsor voluntary regulation, where industry groups create their own agreements, pledges, codes of practice, certification and accreditation schemes to regulate behaviour or standards.

We support the approach to Voluntary Regulation set out in the Scottish Retail Consortium's Framework for Government Sponsored Voluntary Regulation.

Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

The main purpose of The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act is to further improve the way regulation is developed and applied and deliver consistent and proportionate regulation. This will create more favourable business conditions in Scotland along with supporting improvements to the environment.

The Act includes provisions that support:

Other regulators

We work with business, local authorities and other regulatory agencies to improve the regulatory and enforcement environment for businesses in Scotland.

Among these agencies is a regulatory forum that is supported by national and local regulators, including local government. This forum aims to promote a consistent approach to regulation across Scotland.

For advice on better regulation contact the Scottish Government's Better Regulation Team at

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