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financial conduct authority website feedback survey January 10, 2014

Posted by Bradley in : stakeholders , add a comment

I find the pictures on the FCA website really irritating: presumably the pictures of attractive people are supposed to make the website more appealing but I don’t know what they have to do with the FCA’s functions. So, seeing that the FCA was carrying out a website feedback survey I clicked on the link. The first question is “Are you visiting the FCA website today as a consumer or on behalf of a financial services firm?” the possible options are as a consumer or on behalf of a financial firm. No “other” option. Perhaps they don’t think journalists or academics are likely to participate in the survey? Or they only care about what consumers and financial firms think about the website?

justice in 2014? January 6, 2014

Posted by Bradley in : law , add a comment

The criminal bar in the UK protests funding cuts by withdrawing labour. Nigel Lithman QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, complains that figures about barristers’ earnings released by the Government to the press (the Daily Mail) were misleading (citing the earnings of the better paid, rather than the median barrister). He writes:

Should not the Ministry of Justice be on our side? Should the Lord Chancellor not want a balanced picture given to the press?

vicar told children the truth (about santa claus) – parents were horrified December 12, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : lies , add a comment

The Guardian reports that a Wiltshire Vicar told a group of children about St. Nicolas. After parents objected he apologized to parents for having told their children the truth (he apparently said he had no intention of undermining the kids’ belief in Santa Claus). The article has this quote from one of the parents:

We wouldn’t just walk into the church during one of his services and tell everyone there that Jesus isn’t real. He’s a person of authority and it’s not his place to be telling the children that.
“It’s the older children who have suffered the most because their parents can’t really talk their way out of it like the parents of younger children can.
“Loads of kids went home crying – it has ruined Christmas for them. It wasn’t a nice story for children to hear, there were lots more he could have told. Not only has he spoiled Father Christmas for them, a lot of them are now questioning the existence of the tooth fairy as well.

Parents can’t talk their way out of it with older kids the way they can with younger ones. But why this need to have children believe in things that do not exist? Especially as a significant chunk of the Santa Claus story is too close to the idea of the bogeyman for my liking.

The headline for the Telegraph’s story reads: Santa Claus is not real, vicar claims to audience of primary school children. Claims?

jotwell: coslovsky & locke on global supply chains December 6, 2013

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My latest Jotwell contribution, discussing Salo V. Coslovsky & Richard M. Locke, Parallel Paths to Enforcement: Private Compliance, Public Regulation, and Labor Standards in the Brazilian Sugar Sector, 41 Pol & Soc 496 (2013) is here.

miami gable stage antony and cleopatra kickstarter campaign December 1, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : markets , add a comment

Here:

I think they do theatre better than they do video. But the theatre is good, and this production is designed to bring Shakespeare to a wide audience.

uk: payday lending plans November 25, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consumers , add a comment

The UK government plans to cap the cost of payday loans in amendments to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. According to the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

It’s all about the government being on the side of hardworking people.

cfpb: payday lending enforcement and final rule on mortgage disclosure November 20, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consumers , add a comment

The CFPB announced an enforcement action against Cash America International, Inc with respect to its payday lending practices which includes refunds to customers, a fine of $5m for the violation and for destroying records before the investigation and promises with respect to future compliance. I have been feeling grim because I will be discussing McKenzie Check Advance v Betts in class tomorrow, and this is a step in the right direction. The CFPB also announced new rules on mortgage disclosures. There’s lots of information about this rule on the CFPB website, including a blog post which explains how the final rule is different from the proposed rule, a report on the study of old and new mortgage disclosures, and a page for consumers. Much more user friendly than the usual sort of financial regulation rule announcement.

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more eu (non?) transparency issues November 19, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : disclosure, governance , add a comment

Euractiv shows that it isn’t just with respect to conflict minerals that the EU is having difficulty in trying to enhance transparency. The Commission’s proposals in early 2013 (but foreshadowed in 2011) to increase disclosure with respect to social and environmental matters met some organized opposition. The European Council touched on the issue in May in the context of addressing tax evasion (measures on this may be more likely):

The proposal amending the Directives on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies and groups will be examined notably with a view to ensuring country-by-country reporting by large companies and groups

Here’s what the Euractiv article says about this:

“It is strange that they have pulled back on what leaders agreed so recently,” said another source on condition of anonymity. “There is some suggestion that it was very late at night [at the summit] when the leaders made their pledge, and not all of them understood what they were agreeing to!” the source continued.

conflict minerals in the news November 15, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

The 6th ICGLR-OECD-UN GoE Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains has been meeting in Rwanda. Meanwhile, it seems that there is some uncertainty about how the EU will be regulating conflict minerals. And the DC Circuit will hear the National Association of Manufacturers’ appeal of the rejection of its challenge to the US rules (here is a link to NAM’s latest brief in the case filed this week).

judge rakoff on the downside of corporate deferred prosecution agreements November 13, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , add a comment

There’s a lot more than this in the article (at zerohedge) which suggests that the government’s role in creating the conditions which propagated the financial crisis helps to explain why we haven’t been seeing criminal prosecutions of senior financiers. But part of the story Judge Rakoff tells is of a prosecutorial environment which focused more on corporate than on individual responsibility:

if your priority is prosecuting the company…Early in the investigation, you invite in counsel to the company and explain to him or her why you suspect fraud. He or she responds by assuring you that the company wants to cooperate and do the right thing, and to that end the company has hired a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, now a partner at a respected law firm, to do an internal investigation. The company’s counsel asks you to defer your investigation until the company’s own internal investigation is completed, on the condition that the company will share its results with you. In order to save time and resources, you agree. Six months later the company’s counsel returns, with a detailed report showing that mistakes were made but that the company is now intent on correcting them. You and the company then agree that the company will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement that couples some immediate fines with the imposition of expensive but internal prophylactic measures. For all practical purposes the case is now over. You are happy because you believe that you have helped prevent future crimes; the company is happy because it has avoided a devastating indictment; and perhaps the happiest of all are the executives, or former executives, who actually committed the underlying misconduct, for they are left untouched…. Just going after the company is ..both technically and morally suspect. It is technically suspect because, under the law, you should not indict or threaten to indict a company unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that some managerial agent of the company committed the alleged crime; and if you can prove that, why not indict the manager? And from a moral standpoint, punishing a company and its many innocent employees and shareholders for the crimes committed by some unprosecuted individuals seems contrary to elementary notions of moral responsibility.

Meanwhile, the SEC just announced its first deferred prosecution agreement with an individual. And, as Brandon Garrett and David Zaring note here, the UK has adopted a regime for deferred prosecution agreements which differs in some important respects from the US approach:

Britain’s impending adoption of the agreements, on the other hand, exemplifies the cautious embrace offered by good administrative law.
Britain’s proposed program comes with a code governing its use, and a requirement that a court conclude that the agreement is both “in the interests of justice” and “fair, reasonable, and proportionate.” Moreover, the proposal itself has been opened for comment from the public.