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When risk-based regulation aims low: Approaches and challenges


Julia Black and Robert Baldwin, Law Department, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK. Email:;


Risk-based regulation is becoming a familiar regulatory strategy in a wide range of areas and countries. Regulatory attention tends to focus, at least initially, on high risks but low-risk regulatees or activities tend to form the bulk of the regulated population. This article asks why regulators need to address low risks and it outlines the potential difficulties that such risks present. It then considers how regulators tend to deal with lower risks in practice. A body of literature and survey-based research is used to develop a taxonomy of intervention strategies that may be useful in relation to low-risk activities, and, indeed, more widely. In an article to be published in the subsequent issue of this journal, we will then develop a strategic framework for regulators to employ when choosing intervention strategies and we will assesses whether, and how, such a framework could be used by regulatory agencies in a manner that is operable, dynamic, transparent, and justifiable.