Module Identifier LA37210  
Academic Year 2000/2001  
Co-ordinator Ms Bettina Lange  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Ms Bettina Lange  
Pre-Requisite LA16220 or LA36220, LA30310  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours Two one hour lectures per week  
  Seminar   4 Hours Four one hour seminars during the semester  
Assessment Exam   1.5 Hours   50%  
  Essay   Assessed essay of 2000 words required in Week 6   50%  
  Resit assessment   Resit: By retaking the failed element (ie written assignment or examination or both, as applicable)    
Professional Exemptions Not Required for Professional Purposes  

Module description
This module aims to provide students who have already studied constitutional and administrative law with an in-depth understanding of one particular area of public law in Britain: utilities regulation. Utilities regulation provides the focus for this module for two reasons. First, it is a new and rapidly developing area of public law in Britain. Basic regulatory structures for the utilities, such as gas, electricity, telecommunications and water, existed already when they were still nationalised but developed considerably after their privatisation in the 1980s. New statutory frameworks were created, such as the Telecommunications Act 1984, the Gas Act 1986 and the Water Act 1989. Since then utilities regulation has undergone further development and changes. The new Labour government which came to power in May 1997 aims in particular to strengthen the powers of the regulators to ensure the realisation of environmental and social objectives and thus to redress the balance between shareholders' and consumers' interests. The Utilities Bill 2000 which incorporates these ideas is currently being debated in Parliament.

The second reason why utilities regulation is the focus of this module is that this area of the law allows to explore key themes that are fundamental to the understanding of public law in Britain. Public law regulation raises interesting and fundamental questions about the purposes of regulation, such as social and economic objectives and the role of law in achieving those. How, for example, can environmental and economic objectives be realised in the regulatory regime for the water industry? What role do legal techniques play in such regulatory regimes? What new forms of regulation have developed through utilities regulation in the UK?

The module is addressed to those with a general interest in public law issues and the political conflicts with which public law deals. It should also be relevant to those who want to work in private practice in the commercial law field and who might advise regulated utilities plcs.


This module aims to provide students with knowledge of and the ability to critically analyse different ways of thinking about regulation, general frameworks of utilities regulation in Britain and the regulation of the water industry in particular. Students should also develop skills in reading and analysing relevant legislation and case law.

Module objectives / Learning outcomes
- knowing and critically evaluating different approaches to understanding regulation
- knowing and understanding the basic cornerstones of utilities regulation in Britain
(e.g. actors, processes, legal techniques)
- detailed knowledge about a particular area of utilities regulation: Welsh Water


1. Introduction

Themes and issues of utilities regulation:
A case study of Welsh Water

2. An overview of utilities regulation in Britain in general

2.1. The political debate: nationalisation vs privatisation

2.2.. The 'first wave' of utilities regulation: Privatisation Acts in the 1980s

the basic aspects of the regulatory system:

actors: the role of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, the
Office of Fair Trading, the Secretary of State and the
new regulatory bodies (e.g OFTEL, NRA (EA), OFWAT)

aims: price regulation, social and environmental objectives

techniques: licensing, reserve powers for the Secretary of State,
informal techniques

2.3. The 'second wave' of utilities regulation

The Utilities Act 2000

3. Making sense out of regulation

Different approaches to understanding regulation

- economic theories of regulation:
public choice and private interest theories of regulation
- sociological approaches to regulation:
conflict, consensus, capture

Reading Lists
** Recommended Text
Robert Baldwin, Colin Scott, & Christopher Hood. (1998) A Reader on Regulation. Oxford University Press
Anthony Ogus. (1994) Regulation: Legal Form and Economic Theory. Clarendon Press