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Regulatory Contracts and Stakeholder Regulation


  • Tony Prosser


This paper examines the application of the concept of a regulatory contract in the analysis of UK utilities regulation. It argues that there are serious problems in conceiving of regulatory relations as analogous to contracts, though particular contracts may be a useful tool in the regulatory armoury. This is partly due to problems with principal/agent theory, which has been conceived in different ways by economists and lawyers, and partly due to the essentially political nature of regulatory relations, which make it difficult to tie down regulatory discretion in ways which resemble contractual relations. There is also ambiguity as to who is principal and who is agent, with the danger of adopting a single theoretical category for relationships which are radically different. The early legal structures adopted for UK utility regulation did have elements of a regulatory contract, but with the growth of competition and social regulation, a different model, that of a network of stakeholders, has largely replaced it. This offers the opportunity to develop more sophisticated regulatory procedures, but does not replace the need for substantive values drawn from economics but also from public service values as guides for regulatory decisions. Copyright CIRIEC, 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Tony Prosser, 2005. "Regulatory Contracts and Stakeholder Regulation," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 76(1), pages 35-57, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:annpce:v:76:y:2005:i:1:p:35-57

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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-Michel Glachant, 2012. "Regulating Networks in the New Economy," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 3(1).
    2. Franceys, Richard W.A. & Gerlach, Esther, 2011. "Consumer involvement in water services regulation," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 61-70, June.

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