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UK Utility Regulation: Licences, Commitment and Judicial Review


  • Michael Harker


This paper analyses critically the claim made by Levy and Spiller that, in the context of UK utility regulation, licences operate as a 'technology of commitment'. The functional logic of delegation which underpins much principal-agent analyses is discussed, together with the credibility problem emerging from a divergence between a principal's long-term and short-term policies. Levy and Spiller contend that the UK has a successful model of utility regulation in part because of the use of licences which restrict the regulator from deviating from the broad substantive principles settled at the time of vesting. This contention is examined through the detailed consideration of five judicial review cases which have cast light on how, and to what extent, the licences restrict regulatory discretion. Copyright CIRIEC, 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Harker, 2005. "UK Utility Regulation: Licences, Commitment and Judicial Review," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 76(1), pages 5-33, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:annpce:v:76:y:2005:i:1:p:5-33

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