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The Objectives of Economic Regulation: Feasibility and Public Acceptability

16 September 2019, Julian Study Centre, Floor 3, Room 3.02, University of East Anglia

In honour of Professor Catherine Waddams’ lifetime of research, the Centre for Competition Policy hosted a special one-day conference which looked at how regulatory objectives have changed in the last forty years.

At the origin of the current regulatory structure, economic regulation may be characterised as focusing on a narrow definition of economic efficiency. These objectives have since broadened, largely in response to political imperatives. In some sectors, the number of legislated objectives for regulators has multiplied, without regulators receiving simple and implementable guidance on how to weigh the different objectives against each other.

This conference discussed the theoretical and practical consequences of such trends, as well as the implications for political and public acceptance of devolving regulatory mandates to independent entities not subject to day-to-day political oversight. 

SPEAKERS: Lucy Eyre (Ofcom); Monica Giulietti (University of Loughborough); Bruno Liebhaberg (CERRE); Stephen Littlechild (University of Cambridge); Martin Lodge (LSE); David Newbery (University of Cambridge); Greg Olsen (Clifford Chance); Maureen Paul (Ofgem); Russell Pittman (U.S. Department of Justice); Alex Plant (Anglian Water); Michael Pollitt (University of Cambridge); Simon Roberts (CMA & CCRED); Michael Waterson (University of Warwick), and Frances Bowen, David Deller, Sean Ennis, Michael Harker, Amelia Fletcher, Tim Tutton, Bruce Lyons & Catherine Waddams (CCP & UEA).




About Catherine Waddams: 

As the founding director of the Centre for Competition Policy and a Professor of Regulation at the Norwich Business School at UEA, Prof Waddams’ key research interests are in the area of Industrial Organization. She has published widely on privatization, regulation and the introduction of competition, especially in energy markets. She is particularly interested in the distributional impact of regulatory reform, and consumer choice in newly opened markets, both in the UK and elsewhere.





Catherine Waddams, Centre for Competition Policy, UEA: ‘Changing Answers, Questions and Reference Points’

SESSION 1: The Development of Regulatory Objectives Over 40 Years

Michael Harker, Centre for Competition Policy, UEA: ‘Statutory Duties and the Decision-making of an Economic Regulator: A case study on Ofgem’

David Deller, Centre for Competition Policy, UEA: ‘Economic Regulation in Context: The case of the water sector in Europe’

SESSION 2: International Experience with Goals of Economic Regulation

Panel Chair: Michael Pollitt, University of Cambridge

Bruno Liebhaberg, Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE) 

Simon Roberts, Competition and Markets Authority & CCRED, University of Johannesburg: 'Goals of Economic Regulation: Insights and experience from South Africa'

Russell Pittman, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice: 'Objectives of Regulation and the Infrastructure Restructuring "Model": Lessons from the rail sector'

SESSION 3: Economic Objectives of Regulation

Panel Chair: Stephen Littlechild, University of Cambridge: 'Life before Economic Regulation'

Monica Giulietti, University of Loughborough: 'The Objectives of Economic Regulation: Consumer engagement and protection'

Michael Waterson, University of Warwick: 'Presentation in Honour of Catherine Waddams'

David Newbery, University of Cambridge: 'Regulatory Cooperation: Two countries, one Single Electricity Market'

SESSION 4: Regulatory Objectives - Past, Present & Future

Martin Lodge, London School of Economics: ‘The Changing Nature of Economic Regulation’

Tim Tutton, Centre for Competition Policy, UEA: ‘Political Control of State-owned Utilities: Lessons from UK experience with nationalised and privatised utilities’

SESSION 5: Practical Challenges of Regulators with Multiple Objectives

Panel Chair: Greg Olsen, Clifford Chance

Amelia Fletcher, Centre for Competition Policy, UEA: 'Proposal for a Single Overriding Consumer Duty for CMA: Brief discussion'

Maureen Paul, Ofgem: 'Practical Challenges of Regulators with Multiple Objectives'

Alex Plant, Anglian Water: 'Becoming a Public Interest Company'

Lucy Eyre, Ofcom: 'Trade-offs Between Objectives in the Next Spectrum Auction'




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