Joint Committee on Financial Services Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 220 - 239)



Viscount Trenchard

  220.  I would like to turn to the question of whether there is sufficient certainty in the Bill as to what constitutes breach of rules and market abuse and whether we should not consider trying to put more into the Bill in this regard. Mr Morton and others have talked about the need for greater certainty and Mr Farrow referred to the paramount importance of maintaining the competitiveness of the City of London and expressed a worry that a lack of certainty might detract from that. In looking at the question of certainty and defining rules and market abuse, to the extent that the ECHR rules apply, the offence of which an individual is accused must be clear. It seems to me looking at the Bill that it could be argued that what we have is a broadly satisfactory balance because clause 56 defines market abuse in broad terms admittedly but the Treasury's Progress Report has explained that its purpose is to set the outer perimeter of abusive behaviour and to make sure that there are no loopholes in coverage. The Economic Secretary explained that there is currently no sanction against abusive but non-criminal acts by non-authorised persons. But clause 56 is of course balanced by clause 57 which requires the Authority to issue a code and the Authority has argued that regulated persons will under this code have more certainty than exists at present. That might also be said to be true if you look at the point that there are nine regulatory regimes and if you are a foreign firm coming into London you have to cope with nine different regimes and it is very complicated and very unclear. I would like a little bit more on why you think there is not enough certainty. In addition, the FSA has set up a Practitioner Group to revise the draft code which means practitioners have the opportunity to be involved in this. Are you satisfied with this framework? If not, what extra do you think should be done?
  (Mr Farrow)  Could I take two specific examples where we think it is lacking in clarity. If I start with the FSA principles, one of the points I made in my initial remarks was that the FSA have made very clear that they wish to be able to take disciplinary action for breaches of principle regardless of anything else. I read principle 5: "A firm must observe proper standards of market conduct." Does that tell you, my Lord, as a practising investment banker what you may and what you may not do? I am looking at the consultation paper and the FSA principles for business. Can I just repeat the principle because it is very short: "A firm must observe proper standards of market conduct." I would submit that that does not give you in your work in the financial market great clarity about what is the boundary between what is and what is not proper.

  221.  No, so I would expect the Practitioner Group to seek clarification on that.
  (Mr Farrow)  It may be that a changed set of documents will achieve the clarity we want. That is exactly what my objective is. All I can say is that the text we have been given to look at so far is not one that achieves the clarity which we need. If I could turn to a second example. If you look at the definition in CP10 of abusive squeezes, and I am not going to read this out because it is rather lengthy, if you go through paragraphs 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5 if you feel that leaves you with knowledge of what transactions you can carry out in the forward market and what you cannot——I have spent ten years looking at that subject from the London Metal Exchange boardroom and I do not find clarity in it on the basis I would be comfortable to tell anybody they had breached a clear provision of law.

Lord Poole

  222.  How then would you answer those who would say that in a fast-moving market-place to be very specific is extremely difficult and from a regulator's point of view counter-productive? As a matter of fact you will recall, because you have been around for as long as me if not longer, the old rule that says people know where the white line on the road is and if you step to one side or the other you certainly know. The more specific you become the more like America we will become with people merely seeking loopholes because that is how the system particularly in the States works. It would seem to me that it may be to your advantage for the rules to be more specific but it is more to the advantage of the national well-being that it should be about principle, which may become defined over time. I know what proper behaviour is and so do you as a matter of fact. You look doubtful: I find that more worrying than your answer! I would like to ask Andrew Whittaker in due course.
  (Mr Farrow)  I have no wish to force an ever increasing elaboration of rule books, but I think if you are going to exercise the power of prohibiting somebody from earning his living in the City for the rest of his life you need to do so against a clearer standard. It is not what the market thinks is proper behaviour. It was whatever was in the mind of the draftsman or the FSA's enforcement division when they wrote the words "proper behaviour". It is because the sanctions are so potentially severe that such a vague definition is really very problematic.

  223.  Mr Morton, do you want to comment on this?
  (Mr Morton)  Yes and I would like to come back to the other point Lord Trenchard made in terms of market abuse. He referred to the FSA Practitioner Panel which is a very welcome body, of which I am a member, and that is engaged in examining and trying to improve the code of conduct, the market code, which is very welcome. However, that is only part of the story because the market code obviously only covers the areas which it covers and the Government is making it quite clear that it wishes the possibility to be open to sanction people purely for breaching the definition of market abuse. If you look at the definition of market abuse, clause 56.1(c) in particular, that is not, I submit, a prime example of something that gives people a very clear indication of what conduct is permissible. I will read it out: "Behaviour which is likely (or if the circumstances were publicly known, or the behaviour became commonplace, or both) would be likely, to damage the confidence of informed participants that the market, so far as it relates to investments of that kind, is a true and fair market". It is asking you to make a hypothetical judgement about the attitude of some other described group of people to a set of behaviour. I do not think that that would give the great majority of people any clear idea what they can and cannot do.
  (Mr Farrow)  Could I make one supplementary comment to Lord Poole. The London Metal Exchange has a very considerable body of rules about what is acceptable behaviour on the market which achieves as much clarity as we have been able to achieve. At the moment the way the Bill is constructed we are faced with the possibility that you might conduct a transaction on the LME in complete conformity with the detailed rules but you would nevertheless be at hazard to somebody saying, "I don't think that is proper." One of the clarifications to avoid these layers of general rules, precise rules and so on, is a specific provision that if you have done it in conformity with all the detailed rules that is a safe harbour guarantee against being accused of having breached a very general statement.
  (Mr Whiting)  Can I give the Committee a practical example which I think might be helpful to Lord Poole who said that surely you know you are abusing the market and that this must be absolutely clear. The normal definition of "market squeezes" which is used the world over, a wonderful definition, is that you cannot use a dominant position to extract a higher price from the market than you would have been able to extract if you did not have that dominant position, ie, you cannot use a dominant position to move the market. It is a beautiful definition but in practice it is not particularly helpful because in my position as the regulator that leaves me with the task of saying what is this price? It leaves the participants, who quite often have dominant positions for perfectly good reasons, saying how much can they charge, although the regulator might come along and take a different view from them; and the first they would know about it was when they were charged with market manipulation which is a very serious charge. What the LME has done is to lay down detailed rules about what we think is acceptable behaviour and what is not. The answer to all this uncertainty in the Bill is not to try to have a more specific definition in the Bill. That is a hopeless task. You cannot define these things in legislation and the definition in the current Bill is more helpful than the definition in the Financial Services Act 1986. My own view is it is not particularly helpful to try and define these things in much greater detail. You have got to get whatever detail you use correct in the code of market abuse. I agree with Kit the way to do this (and the exchanges have done this in terms of the markets) is if the FSA has disputes about what we have done, which they do not because they have signed them off, then they should tell us. If they do not have a dispute there should be an explicit provision that if people act in accordance with the rules and regulations of the exchanges then it is deemed to be in accordance with the regulations and code of conduct. I think that would be very helpful for all participants because it would ensure investor protection and would keep down the body of rules enormously.
  (Mr Bates)  I would like to comment on one point in relation to this which is that it has to be remembered that this provision, clause 56, is primarily aimed against the unauthorised person, primarily aimed against people not working in the City and indeed it is, so it seems, primarily aimed against people who are not even operating in the United Kingdom. We are in a situation where we are being asked and Parliament is being asked to prescribe a standard which is a very, very broad generality which applies to anyone anywhere in the world and on which anyone anywhere in the world can be called upon at a later stage and told "sorry, your conduct was unacceptable by British standards". I think there is a suggestion by some people that this only applies to people who have taken advantage of UK markets but in fact it does not matter whether they took advantage of UK markets or not, that is what the Bill says. This is a very, very broad provision aimed at asserting a very universal jurisdiction on the basis of no clear standard at all which I think has raised very serious questions about the proper scope of British legislation. I would suggest that one can focus not only on the effect of this on the authorised community, markets and members of the exchanges but also on the rest of the world and think "is this a standard which we wish as a country to promulgate and impose?"


  224.  I would like to move on to the next issue about pre-clearance, guidance and waiver. Could I ask Mr Whittaker if he would like to wrap up this part of the session in response?
  (Mr Whittaker)  I would like to respond first to Kit Farrow's point and then to Alan Whiting's. Kit expressed concern about one of the proposed principles for businesses that we have issued for consultation on the grounds that it was too short and simple. It is not often that we are criticised for the shortness and simplicity of our requirements. This particular one is based on existing principles that have been in place since the early 1990s. Those principles, which were issued by the SIB, were issued at the request of the industry very largely because of concern on their part that the existing rule books were too long and complicated and made it difficult for people to understand what they had to do and made it difficult to look at the underlying moral content of whether what was being done was right or wrong. The possibility remains available, if desired, for guidance to be given on the application of the principles either on a general basis in published written form or on an ad hoc basis if people want to ring up and find out what the regulators consider the proper interpretation of a principle is. As has been pointed out, we are involving the markets in discussing the way in which we should give guidance on particularly sensitive issues. We have also proposed that there should be a practitioner involved in the Enforcement Committee's decision on whether to take enforcement action. That will also provide a safeguard against what is described as being arbitrary conduct by the regulator in taking enforcement action. Finally, it is not going to be ultimately what the regulator considers is improper conduct but what the tribunal considers is improper conduct and they are entirely independent from us. That is the way I would respond to Kit's comments. In relation to Alan's proposal that conduct which complies with the rules of an exchange should not be regarded as market abuse, we have some sympathy but also some concerns about this proposal. We think that a Bill provision to this effect would reduce rather than improve certainty. Firstly because market abuse often does not sit neatly within a single exchange and it can involve on and off exchange transactions and it can involve exchange and non-exchange members. If you have more than one exchange's rules applying you will risk the situation where the same transaction is construed differently under the market abuse provisions. You would also want each exchange's rules to be construed in the same way that exchange construed them. So you would have more uncertainty, more different sources of authority and guidance, on what the provisions meant.

Lord Taverene

  225.  Has this happened? Is this a frequent occurrence?
  (Mr Whittaker)  We do not have market abuse provisions at the moment and certainly conduct that affects more than one exchange is something that happens quite regularly and, indeed, because most of the enforcement mechanisms and investigation mechanisms are within the existing exchanges one particular form of abuse is that you manipulate one market and take the profit on another in the hope that you will avoid detection in that way. Just two more points in relation to Alan's comment, the bits that we regard more sympathetically. We do think that it is desirable that the Code should give weight to the rules of the exchange in the way in which it describes particular abuses. That is the first point. The second is that we have said that where an abuse arises only within a particular exchange we would expect it to be that exchange that would take enforcement action. We ourselves would not get involved.


  226.  Thank you very much. You have thirty seconds to add to the original reply, although you do not have to.
  (Mr Whiting)  Perhaps I can just say one thing. Most of the exchanges are stand alone in the UK, nobody else trades energy apart from the IPE, nobody else trades metals apart from the LME, at least at the moment; who knows where competition is coming from. Market abuse applies to a market. I cannot see anything wrong in having different—I would not call it standards—regimes for different markets. You may want a difference. It may be quite justifiable to have a different regime for a different market. Markets are totally different. The LME is a market which includes delivery; therefore it is a totally different sort of market from a purely financial derivatives market. You therefore have to have different regimes. My concern about putting all of the detail even in a code is that you are going to have a heck of a long code.
  (Mr Farrow)  I would only like to say that the elaboration of the general principles by the SIB was I think a form of guidance and was not expected at the time to be the basis of enforcement action. This is the point I have been trying to make, that while they are excellent principles the very generality of the statements makes them unsuitable as the basis for disciplinary action.

Lord Poole

  227.  I think that conveniently brings us on to the proposals for guidance to market practitioners. How do you feel about that? Are they adequate and, if not, what else could you do?
  (Mr Bates)  We think the provisions in the Bill on guidance are not adequately framed at the moment. I think one has to distinguish between guidance with respect to the statutory framework and guidance with respect to the FSA's own rules. If we start with the first: if you look at the scope of some of the offences in the Act they are quite broadly defined, the authorisation offence for example, and indeed there is concern about the impact of the new rules on solicitors, whether they will need to be authorised. That is just one of the questions that arises with respect to the scope of the Act. It is suggested in the Treasury's Progress Report, for example, on that point that the role of FSA guidance will be helpful to the market in avoiding the need for unnecessary authorisation but the FSA guidance is given no status in the Act whatsoever on that point. The FSA is not the only prosecutor of the offences, other prosecutors can take action as well. The effect of breaching those requirements is to render contracts unenforceable and to give rise to damages claims against firms. Again, the FSA guidance is given no status with respect to those points. It seems to us right and actually beneficial for the regulator if its guidance were given some interpretative or evidential value. We hear much about evidential value of FSA Codes of Conduct against firms but we hear very little about benefits in favour of firms. Why should the court not be directed to take account of whether somebody has complied with FSA guidance in relation to compliance with the statutory offences and for that to be given some sort of evidential value, for example to show that you have taken reasonable care to avoid the commission of an offence? An example of this in a practical way is in relation to the Internet, a very topical question in relation to the scope of the UK regulatory regime, where the FSA has made some statements about its enforcement policy but it is unable, because it has no powers effectively to interpret the law and there are no powers for the courts to take account of that, to give any real assistance to businesses that are seeking to comply with the law. It may say something but it has no effect and it seems to us that is wrong. We do not need to go so far as to say that what the FSA says binds the court, just that it has some value in the court. That is what we would suggest in relation to the effect of guidance on the statutory effect of offences. Just very briefly in relation to its own rules, it seems to us right if the FSA has said that certain conduct does not contravene its rules that people can rely on that. That is the position with respect to many of the SROs at the moment in respect of written formal guidance and it seems to us only fair that if the regulator has said: "Here are my rules, this is what you have to do to comply with them" you can rely on that. Again, it might be given some sort of evidential value or whatever: at least it should have some status and you should not be in the position that you can obtain guidance: it can be published guidance, it can be standing guidance or whatever: but at any stage the regulator can step back from it and resile from its position. Of course it can change its guidance and develop it in the future but we believe that this will provide an alternative flexible way of developing the regulatory system, both with respect to the FSA's own rules and codes of conduct and with respect to the statutory framework.


  228.  Does anybody else want to comment on this?
  (Mr Morton)  I see it principally as a matter of clarity as to what is the status of guidance. If it is in fact something for which you can be prosecuted then let us be absolutely clear that that is its status. If this is informal friendly advice that you can take or not as you judge in the circumstances, fine, but let us be clear about that. There are places where there are suggestions that doing something which is not actually contrary to the guidance but is getting rather close to being contrary to the guidance might itself cause you trouble. It is necessary to know what you can do and what you cannot.

  229.  I think it sounds like Mr Whittaker again.
  (Mr Whittaker)  We have no particular problem with the idea that our guidance should be given some special status. We regard it as very much a matter for the Treasury to balance the arguments for and against that from the point of view of the Bill.

  230.  Mr Roe, at this stage?
  (Mr Roe)  Only really that we did address this particular point in the Progress Report and said in particular that we did not think that giving particular evidential weight to FSA guidance would add very much. I think this is an example of an issue where if the Committee comes up with some new, and I think preferably specific, ideas about precisely what is meant by evidential weight, I am sure that Treasury Ministers will be happy to consider its suggestions. The Treasury is really coming at this I think from the point of view that we are not entirely convinced that anything particular is necessary.

Lord Haskel

  231.  If the FSA has said something formal, surely a court or a tribunal would take note of what they say irrespective of the status? So I do not quite understand why it is you are so concerned about the status of what the FSA says.
  (Mr Bates)  The issue is, and there have been some practical examples of this, yes, indeed the courts would look at what the FSA says but because it has no formal status, it is no more of an opinion than my opinion as to what the law is. Therefore the court may say: "Well, obviously we wish to construe the law in a sensible way and we will listen to what the FSA says" but at the end of the day it makes no more difference to the outcome than my opinion or your opinion as to what the law is. Our suggestion is giving it some form of evidential status as to compliance, I might add not so the FSA can purport to extend the law by saying: "Well, we think the law means X" and therefore take the law wider but in the sense of interpreting it to say you are not contravening the law by doing X: the starting point is that compliance with the standard tends to establish that you have complied with the law and then you are starting from a slightly different position with the court. The court is not saying this is not just a matter of their opinion or our opinion, as to which the court can put those on one side and make its own mind up, but it has to effectively look at that and treat it as the starting point from which the court can be moved by rebutting force of argument or evidential evidence as to the conduct.

Lord Taverne

  232.  Can you give any statutory precedent for that kind of guidance being given special evidential status?
  (Mr Bates)  The only one which I can think of is in relation to a statutory instrument—others may well be able to think of others—in relation to the money laundering regulations which implement European obligations. Industry guidance is given evidential weight as to whether people have taken the appropriate steps to comply with the identification requirements.


  233.  Could I ask if any of you could respond to Mr Roe's request for some concrete suggestions about how we might deal with this? It is obviously something the Committee would like to look at.
  (Mr Bates)  We are happy to do so.

Chairman:  Can we move on to the next subject.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory

  234.  I am interested in providing some legal counterweight to what could be excessive administrative powers. It gets me back to this question of statutory immunity. We have heard a call today to extend statutory immunity to exchanges in their regulatory function and I think equality is a powerful point. Am I right that the proposed statutory immunity from the FSA includes reckless or negative behaviour in the course of business? This seems to be excessive if granted to the FSA or to an exchange. As part of that, I do not quite see why in its criminal prosecuting role any body should be given statutory immunity when it is not granted to the police or to the Serious Fraud Office. Am I right about that?
  (Mr Whiting)  Can I try and answer some of those questions. You are right that the current statutory immunity which is granted to the FSA and other bodies as well, the Bank of England for example has it, does not exempt reckless behaviour. However, it does not apply to action taken in bad faith. It is always open to somebody to go to court to challenge that an issue was taken in bad faith. Where the border line between recklessness and bad faith is drawn I think is very difficult. It would have to be judged on a case by case basis. I am not a lawyer I should say. I am aware that the police and the FSO and even the Director of Public Prosecutions do not have statutory immunity as such. However they do have—my lawyer colleagues will tell me if I am wrong—a body of law which has been built up over the years which amounts to something extremely similar. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to sue the police for operational issues. You have to establish that the police have a duty of care over you and the same with other bodies. It is incredibly difficult to do. One of the problems with financial services is this body of law has not been developed. There is no body of common law which establishes these issues. As far as the LME and recognised investment exchanges are concerned, I think I have tried to point out we have this public duty and we have a very important public duty which in essence is to protect the public or to run proper markets and to protect the public. This is a public function. Clearly if you give people statutory immunity then to some extent you are taking away private rights. Now you are not taking them away totally because all bodies, certainly the LME, are subject to judicial review. At the moment we are in a rather unusual position that we can be sued in the civil courts and taken to judicial review as well. You could say it is the best of both worlds or the worst of both worlds. I think it is a very important point.
  (Mr Farrow)  I would not entirely agree with Alan Whiting that there is no clear difference between bad faith and recklessness, I think to prove that a public authority has acted in bad faith is an extremely difficult thing for anybody to set up whereas acting without proper thought is perhaps more readily established. As a matter of principle it is hard to believe that a public authority should be allowed to be reckless with impunity as a general statement. What does one do about it? In principle there are two ways in which one can address it. One is one could limit the immunity to say that it does not apply in the event of reckless behaviour. Alternatively in the Bill at the moment there is a provision for investigation of complaints which is quite an attractive way of addressing the same issue but at the moment the provisions are, I think, very much within the control of the FSA and if one were to rely wholly on the investigation of complaints mechanism I think one would want to see it made substantially more robust and independent.


  235.  We were reminded by the Economic Secretary that Lord Denning had spoken on this subject back in 1986 when the original Financial Services Act was going through; about the importance of the regulators not having to look over their shoulders all the time, just as judges, in terms of how they carry out their duties. I am interested in what you say about the alternative route of looking at this in terms of strengthening the complaints procedure.
  (Mr Bates)  I just want to make one point which I think is not addressed in the Bill and which I think is important. If we are going to have a complaints procedure it has to involve the idea of the payment of compensation. It is not enough to have a complaints procedure which only censures or requests the reinstatement of the licence. If a very broad immunity is to be given then it seems to be right that in appropriate cases the complaints body ought to have the power, as the Ombudsman does, to propose the payment of compensation. That raises the important question of who pays that compensation because the FSA is funded entirely by the industry and if it is the FSA that has to pay then essentially the industry is being required to fund the costs of maladministration by a body which it did not appoint and whose members it does not control. There is an issue here as to compensation which I think is important, in answer to Alan's comments, but we also have to think about who pays, because who pays the bill at the end of the day is a rather important question.

Lord Haskel

  236.  I have a short question on that point, if I may. You were raising the point about who pays and what went through my mind was what then should the powers of the FSA be over firms that are not regulated because they do have certain responsibilities over firms that are not regulated? They do not pay towards the upkeep of the FSA. Should the FSA have any powers over them?
  (Mr Bates)  I think the principal power is in relation to the market abuse power which comes back to the point we were discussing earlier. I think there is an issue not so much as to the payment of the FSA's regulatory costs but more as to the extent of its regulatory— effectively delegated—powers to regulate the unregulated. I think the concern which I was alluding to earlier was the question of a very broad power being given to effectively prescribe conduct with very few limits placed on those powers and with no parliamentary scrutiny, for example, of the way in which those powers are exercised.
  (Mr Whiting)  Can I just come back to the point about statutory immunity. We just explained very briefly why we think it is important but I suspect that members of the Committee may think we need it for a different purpose from what we actually do need it for. It is not that we are concerned that if we take disciplinary action against the members of the exchange that we fear we will be sued, I think that is extremely unlikely, but a large part of my job is to maintain the markets as fair and proper markets. In order to do this you have to monitor markets very closely and you have to intervene quite often at extremely short notice. When you intervene in the markets, and you do it as best you can, you are bound, unfortunately, from time to time to hurt innocent people as well as the guilty. You hurt the innocent people far less than the guilty people but nevertheless sometimes innocent people are hurt. This is an inevitable consequence. If we have to fear that we are going to be sued every time that we intervene in a market or, worse, that lawsuits will go in that prevent us intervening very quickly in the market this really does make the job impossible. I think people's rights are protected because everything we do has to be Wednesbury reasonable. We are subject to judicial review; we are facing a judicial review at the moment.

  237.  We discussed the question of tribunals when we were talking about the various models, but one way or another we are going to have to have some sort of independent tribunal. I wonder whether you think that the proposals for the tribunal as they now stand are satisfactory? Do they make sense? What about costs? What about Legal Aid? Can you tell me what your thoughts are about the status of the tribunal?
  (Mr Mayhew)  Certainly as far as the tribunal is currently proposed we do not have any difficulty or problems with the way it is formulated. We do not know enough about the rules yet because the Lord Chancellor's Department has not made those proposed rules. There are two things I would say. One is that I think it is very important that the tribunal has sitting on it practitioners alongside the qualified chairman because in my experience they bring enormous value to the quality of decision making of tribunals. Secondly, it is very important that the tribunal does have the ability to award costs against either party. Currently in the SFA model in particular the basis on which costs can be awarded against the SFA is only if the prosecution is unreasonable, which I think is a high standard which is unnecessary. Finally, in relation to the way the tribunal operates, I do believe that the equality of arms principle means that we may need to have provision for Legal Aid for people who are impecunious who are caught up in a tribunal hearing because they will require expert evidence and it can be very expensive. Some people have felt very aggrieved by the current system where they are faced with huge legal costs, not only their own but also the regulator's costs, which leads them to abandon the game altogether with a burning sense of injustice. We have seen that in the Morgan Grenfell case where individuals felt that they were very poorly treated.

  238.  Will equality of arms imply Legal Aid?
  (Mr Mayhew)  It does effectively in those circumstances. In relatively complex cases and unusual circumstances, yes.

Viscount Trenchard

  239.  I would like to ask the panel whether they think that the establishment of a tribunal as now proposed is an adequate response to those who think there is a lack of independent review within the disciplinary process? That is my first question. My second question is what about practitioners, in particular foreign practitioners, who are trying to preserve a good relationship with a regulator and who are frightened that they might incur the regulator's displeasure if they go off to the tribunal? I represented a British firm in Japan and I was very concerned at all times to have a good relationship with my regulator and I would have thought very long and hard before appealing against what he said. Aside from the costs, is the desire to maintain a good relationship with the FSA also going to be a reason working against a practitioner feeling free to appeal to the tribunal?
  (Mr Farrow)  Yes, as a matter of practice people are quite reluctant to start litigating against the man who is going to be regulating them next year or the year after. That is one of the inevitabilities of things. However, to go back to your first question, my Lord, yes, the establishment of a fully independent tribunal is what we want to be available as a safety net. We do not in any way want to make the enforcement process more litigious or more involvement of lawyers generally than there needs to be but the safeguard to ensure that fairness prevails is an opportunity for a fully independent hearing if you have not been able to resolve matters in any easier way.

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