2 March 2009

The general and the particular...

Harriet Harman's comments on the BBC have been well-covered in the press today and yesterday. She is being liberally peppered with the wholly legitimate scorn of many commentators.

What concerns me is the interaction between the unappealing particular - the strangely unctuous looking Fred Goodwin - and the presumably general form of any proposed legislation. Since it seems unlikely, even when one is indulging in conscious legislative smallness, that the text of the putative Fred Goodwin Pension (Removal) Bill will read:
"All contractual obligations accruing to the aforesaid Fred Goodwin esq. (to be defined in Schedule 2: Definitions) in respect of the Royal Bank of Scotland plc shall hereby be rendered unenforceable."
Rather more likely, any such bill would assume a general form, giving some obligation defusing power to a secretary of state in particular circumstances. It is the only thing which could make the legislate-and-grab proposition seem remotely decorous - by concealing the narrow particular in the haughty certainty of legal universals.

As such, even if some people might have a chortle at Goodwin's bank balance shrinking like a cold scrotum - one must keep an eye to more general consequences - and the strong probability that any enactment will not only permit Fred's pension to be cropped, but heaven knows what else.


  1. Can't say I'm too fussed about this, but is there a legal argument with regard to the retrospective aspect of this, as per the criminal offence/ECHR problem you posted about recently?

    BTW, thanks for the reply and case law in the other thread - I'm half way through it ;0)

  2. Just posted about this on my own blog, all the government really need to do is charge Goodwin with negligence... I think the Sunday Herald suggested this.

    I wish that the other culprits would get their day in the stocks though