Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIA): guidance

Guidance for policy officials on what a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) is for, and the stages involved in one.

This is part of a collection that makes up the complete BRIA guidance. We have also produced a template for completing a BRIA and best practice examples

A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) is used to analyse the cost and benefits to businesses and the third sector of any proposed legislation or regulation, with the goal of using evidence to identify the proposal that best achieves policy objectives while minimising costs and burdens as much as possible.

All proposals which may have an impact upon business or the third sector should be accompanied by a BRIA. BRIAs should be completed for legislation and regulations (including voluntary regulation), as well as policy changes.

Consultation documents should be accompanied by partial BRIAs, which are designed to encourage comment by those the proposals affect. Once the consultation has been completed a final BRIA should be produced, building on the partial assessment and information gathered from the consultation analysis.

Each directorate is responsible for their own BRIA quality monitoring, making sure they have consulted with economists, analysts, businesses and third sector organisations as appropriate. The Better Regulation team is available for general advice.

Do I need to complete a BRIA?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions then a BRIA is required.

Does the proposal:

  • impose additional, or reduce existing, costs on relevant businesses or third sector organisations?
  • impose additional costs on public sector organisations that deliver services?
  • involve a transfer of costs or benefits from one group to another, even where it does not change overall net costs or benefits?

If you believe a BRIA is not required for proposed legislation, you must gather and present evidence of this to secure your Minister's sign off.

What information is expected in a BRIA?

There are various levels of analysis that are expected in a BRIA:

  • a description of who will be affected by the proposed legislation
  • a full description of the costs and benefits to those parties
  • quantification of the impacts of the costs and benefits, for example, they will affect 1000 planning applications per year, there will be 500,000 new houses built per year

What approval is necessary before a BRIA can be published?

The Cabinet Secretary or Minister responsible for the proposed legislation is required to sign off all BRIAs prior to publication. If you are conducting a BRIA as part of a non-departmental public body or another agency, the Chief Executive is required to sign off before publication.

Legal issues

You should seek advice from the legal directorate (SGLD) on questions of legal risk. Following the BRIA process should help reduce any risk of legal challenge.

The stages of BRIA

We have created a flowchart that gives more detail on the various stages of an assessment:

  • development stage
  • options stage
  • draft of partial BRIA
  • Ministerial agreement
  • agreed partial stage BRIA out to public consultation
  • draft of final BRIA
  • Ministerial agreement
  • publication of BRIA
  • review stage



Telephone: 0131 244 4386

Better Regulation Team
Scottish Government
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

Back to top