Professor Roberta Romano, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 2015 Clarendon Law Lectures, supported by Oxford University Press, on November 9, 10 and 11 in the Law Faculty. Her aim was to assess the quality of the welter of legislation which, on both sides of the Atlantic, has followed the financial crisis which began in late 2007.

Her theme was that legislators were ill-prepared to respond to the enormous popular political pressure that was placed on them to enact rules to prevent such an event occurring again – or, at least, to reduce substantially the chances of its re-occurrence. Governments could not afford to wait for a dispassionate analysis of why the crisis had occurred and of the measures most likely to help reduce the chances to its reoccurrence. Politically, they had to act quickly and so often in a state of partial ignorance.

Professor Romano’s solution to this problem was ‘sunsetting’. Legislation would automatically terminate at a certain future date unless it was re-enacted, in its original or an amended form. The review process would be accompanied by an expert report, which would lead to an informed debate about which parts of the legislation had successfully achieved their objective.

Each lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session.