• Research Briefing

    Global Economic Crisis & developing countries

    This note was last published on 26 August 2009 and will not be updated. In the early stages of the financial crisis there were hopes that it would be largely contained within developed economies, with developing economies having 'decoupled' from them. These early hopes proved unfounded, with developing countries struck by declining trade, a loss of investor confidence and withdrawal of investment, a fall in the value of vital remittances, and much reduced growth and contraction in some cases. There are also fears that aid flows may suffer in the aftermath of the crisis. This note summarises key reports and statistics, with links to further resources.

  • Research Briefing

    Financial Services Compensation Scheme

    This note outlines the background to and scope of the financial services compensation scheme (FSCS). Significant changes were made to the scheme in the summer of 2007 following the emergence of financial difficulties at the Northern Rock bank and in October 2008 following continued difficulties in the UK banking sector.

  • Research Briefing

    Digital Economy Bill [HL]

    The Bill implements aspects of Government policy on digital media set out in the ‘Digital Britain’ White Paper published in June 2009. It requires Ofcom to report on communications infrastructure and media content and gives it additional powers in relation to electromagnetic spectrum access. It imposes obligations on internet service providers to reduce online copyright infringement and allows the Secretary of State to intervene in internet domain name registration. The Bill requires Channel Four to provide public service content on a range of media and allows variation of the public service provision in Channel 3 and 5 licences. It also modifies the licensing regime to facilitate switchover to digital radio, extends the range of video games that are subject to age-related classification and includes non-print formats in the public lending right payment scheme.

  • Research Briefing

    Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Bill [HL] [Bill No. 79 of 2009-10]

    The purpose of the Bill is to amend existing legislation governing the relationship between insurers and claimants, with specific regard to 'third parties', to make it easier and less expensive to claim compensation from insolvent defendants. Current legislation dictates that claimants must establish an insolvent defendant's liability before bringing a separate claim against their insurer. The Bill would enable claimants to sue the insolvent defendant's insurer directly, without having to sue the wrongdoer first. The Bill's provisions are largely uncontroversial, and have widespread support from the majority of stakeholders.

  • Research Briefing

    Bribery allegations and BAE Systems

    BAE Systems was accused of corruption, specifically making bribes, in regard to the Al Yamamah arms agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government. This was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following the leaking of a letter from the then Director of the SFO to the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. The SFO discontinued its inquiry in December 2006, citing the need to safeguard national and international security, a move which was supported by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. A legal challenge that the SFO's decision was unlawful was not successful. In addition to the allegations surrounding Al Yamamah, parallel SFO investigations were also conducted into a number of other BAE defence contracts in South Africa, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania, Tanzania and Qatar. In February 2010, BAE Systems reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to plead guilty of conspiring to make false statements to the US Government in connection with certain regulatory filings and undertakings, including the Al Yamamah agreement as well as contracts with the Hungarian and Czech governments. In March 2010, BAE Systems pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations. It was given a $400 million fine and agreed to take measures in order to stay within US and foreign laws concerning corruption and the exports of arms. The company also agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years to assess its compliance program and to make a series of reports to the company and the DoJ. This Standard Note is referred to in the Research Paper, The Bribery Bill (RP 10/19).