The Path from Legislation to Regulation

Dafydd Huw Davies
The Middle East is looking at ways of securing legislative compliance in many industries, including construction.

An efficient regulatory system ensures not only compliance with legal frameworks but also enhanced service delivery to the end user. Consequently, greater value for money can be achieved at both strategic and operational levels.

Regulation or accreditation?

Regulation should be distinguished from accreditation – people often confuse the two. Both have a role to play but they are fundamentally different.

What is regulation?

Regulation means that a government or industry body acts as an approving or licensing authority. The authority (or regulator) regulates a defined category of service delivery providers, which in turn governs the service provider’s ability to provide the service. Construction industry examples include planning authority permits and municipality permits.

What is accreditation?

An accreditation body seeks to establish best practice, and accreditation is primarily elective as opposed to mandatory. The service provider chooses to be judged by the operating standards of the best practice organisation. The service provider’s membership depends on their continued evidenced ability to meet those standards. Construction industry examples include ISO, LEED, GORD and Estidama.

How do regulatory approaches work in principle?

A regulatory framework is underpinned by a legislative framework, guidance and, periodically, national minimum standards. The legislative framework combines primary legislation which stipulates principles, and secondary legislation to provide more detail. Guidance, whether statutory or otherwise, provides the sector with a useful insight into what is expected in practice. If written, national minimum standards act as a manual setting out specific information which every service provider should engage with and apply.

Applying a regulatory framework

A successful regulator applies the enabling framework in a consistent and justifiable manner, enabling the service provider to flourish. A progressive approach will enable the regulator to respond to the society’s changing circumstances and needs. The application of smart technology will enable service user empowerment and improved service delivery, as the service provider sees and feels the impact of regulated, programmed and service user-led regulatory toolkits.

Making the regulatory approach more effective

The key is to ensure that the approach is both relevant and workable within the local culture. Whilst ‘international best practice’ is an essential building block, it’s also important to ensure that these principles are incorporated into local practice.

Here in the Middle East

Governments across the Middle East are taking steps to strengthen their regulatory ability. The use of regulation as a compliance tool is increasing and there are encouraging signs of further progress. Planning and permitting procedures, for example, are being reviewed to make it easier and less time consuming for applicants, and more inspectors are being appointed to oversee and enforce planning laws. We are also seeing more information sharing - interdisciplinary and cross-municipality/agency, as well as between countries in the region.

Wider benefits

A strengthened regulatory system forms a key building block in the construction of an enhanced society. Governments will be better informed from a strategic and policy delivery basis. The construction industry will have greater confidence in the way their permitting applications are processed and, most importantly; the end user will experience a tangible benefit.

Effective regulation will result in governments sharing relevant information between different agencies, safeguarding citizen welfare and ensuring streamlined services. An effective regulator in turn is well placed to inform policy makers and to advise the legislature of any required changes.

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