Regulatory Institute: reflecting on the year that was 2022

Two words, collaboration and expansion, best summarise the achievements of the Regulatory Institute these past twelve months. Our core work in researching, writing and sharing for free, good regulatory techniques with lawmaking officials, will benefit countless citizens around the world. Achievements worthy of particular mention include: participation in ten law projects to better control addictive consumer products (alcohol, cannabis and tobacco), collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum and civil society organisations towards the world’s first Model Law on Public Financial Management, publishing the Model Laws Library and doubling our workforce to reach all corners of the world!

Laws that save lives

Our focus on regulations that better control the sale of addictive consumer products, specifically alcohol, cannabis and tobacco, help to save lives as well as decrease disability-adjusted life years. Using our Model Law on Alcohol, Cannabis and Tobacco Products, as well as our articles detailing specific regulatory techniques, we provided input to the following law reform projects:

  • Morocco introduced a bill on the “prohibition of smoking, advertising and promotion of tobacco in some places” (due to the non-implemented 1995 law) and a second bill to regulate the sale and consumption of shisha and electronic cigarettes. An important objective of both bills was to strengthen protection of minors by prohibiting sales to children. We recommended additional measures aimed at enhancing protection of children, reinforcing control, particularly those of the responsibility authority, and enhancing enforcement.

  • Bahrain sought to amend its Tobacco Control Act 2009 to regulate electronic cigarettes and provide stricter penalties for the sale and distribution of tobacco products to children. Our Model Law was of great benefit to the National Assembly committee members responsible for the bill.

  • South Africa’s Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill aims to regulate recreational use of cannabis. We provided amendments to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry highlighting, among others, the importance of regulating private imports of cannabis for personal consumption and banning cannabis consumption when it is planned or likely to be necessary to drive or operate vehicles and machines.

  • Switzerland revised its federal law on tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to apply stricter controls for tobacco marketing to reduce exposure to children, our suggested amendments provided more regulatory techniques to achieve this objective.

  • the European Union is revising its Tobacco Products Directive, which is significant due to the obligation of Member States to transpose the Directive into domestic law, representing 27 separate jurisdictions and 447 million people. Our comments were greatly appreciated by the revision drafting team.

  • New Zealand’s Minister of Justice wrote thanking the Regulatory Institute for its contribution to the Bill aimed at reforming the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, the first phase of which will target the alcohol licensing process.

N.B. New Zealand is proactive in its regulatory approach to control addictive consumer products such as alcohol and tobacco, including vaping. Together with Bhutan, both implement a full tobacco products ban.

Other laws

We proudly collaborated with the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) to develop the world’s first Model Law on Public Financial Management (MLPFM). The MLPFM was unanimously approved by the 51st Plenary Assembly of the SADCPF on 14 July 2022, representing several months of work, by experts in several countries and an extensive consultation process across diverse sectors of the SADC region. The creation of model laws is one of the methods used by SADC PF to encourage regional cooperation and has already successfully developed several model laws. The genesis for the development of the MLPFM was to ensure that “SADC national parliaments are enabled to conduct their legislative, budgetary and oversight functions for public financial management to be transparent, efficient and responsive to the needs of SADC citizens”. Regulatory control of public finances and its management are critical for good governance and closely correlated with better outcomes for citizens. For more detailed information about our work with the SADC PF please see this article.

Through our Model Law on Artificial Intelligence we seek to prevent existential risks that may arise from poorly conceived applications of AI. Great interest1 was shown by the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel and the OECD AI Policy Observatory. The EU will be the first jurisdiction to create a horizontal regulation of AI, including banning certain uses of AI. We provided detailed amendments to the two Committees2 of the European Parliament overseeing the legal project as well as the president of the Council at the time, the Czech Republic.

The comments of the Regulatory Institute highlighted that the proposed definition of AI and classification of high-risk AI systems will be more cumbersome to administer and cause some AI systems to not be regulated. We urged additional consideration for the approach taken for a narrow AI definition combined with a technology-driven listing approach. We believe the approach in the EU proposal will need frequent and cumbersome updating, while still creating loopholes because an AI system may be placed on the market, on account of not being a product subject to third-party conformity assessment and being a technology not yet included in the Annex III high-risk list. Furthermore, the decision to regulate AI shows there was little confidence with the previous system of “self regulation” and so how confident can we be that providers will self-assess their new AI system as high-risk? Research is outside the scope of the Act because it is not placed on the market and a desire to not stifle research. However, research can take place in private and semi-private institutions, which could have less probity than a public institution or a private institution subject to the conditions of public funding. We recommended keeping some boundaries and not exempting research from the scope of this law.

Model Laws Library

The Regulatory Institute published towards the end of 2022 the Model Laws Library (MLL) which contains model laws published by the Regulatory Institute and model laws published by other organisations. To the best of our knowledge, this repository of model laws in one place is the first of its kind. Although we are familiar with single subject model law repositories, the Regulatory Institute’s MLL covers a number of policy subjects and aims to include all current model laws ever developed. There are over 250 model laws identified in the MLL, covering over 15 wide policy areas. The Regulatory Institute searched, reviewed and compiled several hundred model laws, covering a variety of topics for publishing in the MLL. Over time the Regulatory Institute will publish amended versions of the researched model laws because most of the laws we researched lacked important elements. We found that for every 100 laws researched, only one is fairly complete. For model laws the ratio is better, but still far from ideal. This was one of the many reasons the Regulatory Institute started developing and publishing its own model laws, based on good regulatory techniques from around the world.

Global reach

We recruited two more Regional Representatives to cover South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan) and East Asia and South-east Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Timor-Leste). With the recruitment of these two Regional Representatives, the Regulatory Institute can now reach over 30% more of the world’s population. Our Regional Representatives perform a vital function in sharing our work in their respective regions, with lawmaking officials that work under difficult conditions often with limited resources. They also monitor legal projects in parliament and provide comments to legal projects with a life-saving element. In 2022 alone we provided comments to over 20 legal projects in the following countries:

  • Australia;

  • Bahrain;

  • Belgium;

  • Canada;

  • Egypt;

  • European Union;

  • Ireland;

  • Ivory Coast;

  • Madagascar;

  • Malta;

  • Paraguay;

  • Peru;

  • Portugal;

  • Morocco;

  • New Zealand;

  • Norway;

  • Switzerland; and

  • Tunisia.

All of which cannot be done without our valuable Regional Representatives.

The year to come

For 2023 the Regulatory Institute is looking to intensify its reach into South America, Central America and the Caribbean through the recruitment of a new Regional Representative South America. We are also on the way to develop another model law covering internet-based international legal relationships, new and emerging virtual worlds and other internet platforms. This is a relatively new legal topic, possibly the first model law of its kind and we welcome collaboration from any experts in the field. Another possible focus might be pandemics. We intend to accompany the international negotiations starting in this field and to provide a new model law.

2. Both the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs are working jointly on the AI Act under Rule 58 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament.

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