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Title: A socio-legal response to the constitutional problems of independent regulators in the UK and Spain
Author: Zarate, Sebastian
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2010
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Scholars have considered various constitutional conflicts in relation to independence of utility regulators (such as telecoms, energy, water and postal services). It ha:s been argued that these entities represent a disintegration of the administrative system, causing a serious failure for ensuring accountability and ministerial responsibility. Besides, some scholars have pointed out that, as these entities perform their powers outside the central political institutions (i.e. Parliament and government ministers), independent regulation means a tension with the traditional forms of political legitimacy . This work attempts to contribute to this debate, proposing a more optimistic understanding of independent regulators, defending their compliance with core constitutional values of legitimacy, accountability and responsibility. Using comparative study of independent utility regulators in Spain and the UK, the work intends to demonstrate that regulators' can be regarded as legitimate and accountable. To do so, it will adopt a socio-legal approach, 'showing the interactions of law and other social sciences, such as politics and sociology. In the first part, it argues that administrative disintegration is part of a larger transformation of the state, and it should not be attached to the creation of independent agencies. Controversial issues of legitimacy which can be approached in various and complex ways, including through the use of systems theory. Principal-agent theory seems to provide good reasons for delegation to independent agencies. Then, it aims to argue that ministerial direction is clearly inadequate as a means of accountability on its own, and needs to be balanced against other constitutional requirements. What is more appropriate is to use. accountability a,s a 'hub concept' and to point to the complex networks this involved, as illustrated from utility regulation in the UK, and telecoms regulation in Spain, UK and the EU. Overall, is intended that the contribution of the thesis will introduce a further debate on the current interpretation of constitutional principles to a transformed state structure, and new forms to ensure accountability and legitimacy mechanisms in relation to peripheral institutions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available