The British legal system is an organic and evolutionary system of law that avoids prescription and adapts swiftly to changing circumstances, whereas the continental or Roman legal system is prescriptive - you follow the rules without question. British people do not need more and standardised legislation, writes Marta Andreasen MEP, outlining her speech at the 2011 Practitioners Summit on Fund Management Regulation in Central London, March 30-31.
• This morning I spoke at the 2011 Practitioners Summit on Fund Management Regulation in Central London.
I was asked to give an overview of the European regulatory agenda for 2011. My speech, given the audience, was quite technical in nature and to those with no background in the financial sector, probably a bit like attending a discussion on macro-physics. So I won’t bore you with the detailed financial jargon and nitty gritty. Instead I would like to share some observations I made about the incompatibility of the British legal systems and the continental system favoured by the EU Institutions.
Since I was elected to the European Parliament I have had many opportunities to reflect on a dichotomy, the difference between the British way of doing things and the Continental. This point was made very clear to me when I was involved in discussions on the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFM) and we were trying to resolve the issue of the liability of depositaries. The two competing positions were “reasonable care” and “unlimited liability”. Here we could see English common law rubbing up against what I will call positive Roman law.
The British people have an own highly evolved legal system that is not only adequate, but is good enough to have been the basis of the legal system of a large part of the rest of the world. Indeed, because the Common Law avoids prescription, wherever possible, it is an organic and evolutionary system of law, characteristics which allow it to be nimble on its feet, adapting swiftly to the changing landscape. The system of English law is very strong because it is based on the needs and actions of a reasonable and rational individual. On the contrary the continental or Roman legal system is prescriptive; you follow the rules and do not question them too much. Here is the very nub of the problem with the EU, British people do not need more and standardised legislation, but rather they can decide for themselves because they know they may be called on to explain themselves and consequently responsibility is ingrained in them. It works for them: why must they change it?
At this point I want to make clear that it is UKIP policy that Britain should be sovereign in its negotiations with other countries in all matters including financial policy, but we have to be realistic and try to influence the legislation of the European Union that is going to affect us and for that reason I follow this and try to limit the damage even though I do not like the process. Maybe a bit like cleaning out a sceptic tank! I would also like to point out that in all of the legislation I mentioned in my speech , neither I nor any member of UKIP has given even one single, solitary vote in favour.
It always seems to come to the same thing: In my opinion and from my perspective in dealing with European legislation, the Europeans are afraid of freedom and liberal laws unlike the UK. I value the British legal system, and for this reason, and indeed many others, I believe it should be cherished and protected from EU interference.
Marta Andreasen MEP