Post-Implementation Review: The Commitments of the UK’s Government

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As part of the UK Government’s commitment towards transparency, a recent document released by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills sets out the statutory and non-statutory post-implementation reviews (PIRs) commitments made by the BIS as at February 2015 to make those that are affected by regulation informed about what is due to be reviewed and by when. This document will be updated on an annual basis with information about new review commitments and the delivery of existing commitments.

As for statutory reviews, in 2011 it became mandatory to include a review clause in any legislation that regulates business and civil society organisations except where the effect is deregulatory or the costs to business are less than or equal to £1 million in any given year. A review clause imposes a statutory duty to carry out a review of the relevant legislation within a specified timescale but does not necessarily include a sunset clause. In most cases, the date of publication of the statutory review is no later than five years from the date the legislation came into force, and subsequent reviews should take place at five year intervals, at least.

Non-statutory reviews are public commitments made to review the legislation usually within 3, 5 or 7 years. The review commitments are not in legislation but in other published documents, for instance as part of the original IA. This is normally accompanied by a section in the IA’s evidence base providing more detail about the structure and content of the review. In most instances, non-statutory reviews will cover the same material as statutory reviews.

A PIR will review: the original policy objectives, the extent to which the measure is achieving its intended effects/meeting its objectives; whether there have been any unintended consequences; how well it is working; and the reasons why. It will also assess whether the objectives could be achieved with a system that imposes less regulation. Planning of a PIR should begin when the Impact Assessment is being developed and inform next steps  in the later stages of the regulation lifecycle.

The PIR evidence will support decisions about the next steps for a measure, which are:

  1. Renewal – measure continues without change;
  2. Amendment – measure remains but changes are made to improve it;
  3. Removal – measure is removed without replacement; or Replacement – measure is replaced or redesigned substantially.

As part of its work as independent non-departmental oversight body, the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) will scrutinize PIRs and will give each PIR a rating based on whether the review is fir for purpose.

The document is available here.

(Fabrizio Di Mascio)