I’ve spent some time looking at the final draft of the Royal Charter – so I want to share my thoughts with you. If you click the bottom left of the viewer, you’ll see in fullscreen view, highlighted, the key changes made since the original draft last March and be able to click again to see my comments on them.
I’m normally slow to criticise the drafting of legal texts – usually the drafter knows more than us, or is working under constraints we don’t understand. That may well be the case here: any text agreed between two or more parties (and here, three political parties and the Scottish government are involved) rather than drafted by a single mind is likely to contain defects. I think this does.
The new provisions relating to Scotland, for example, raise as many questions as they answer. And some of the choices made in catering expressly for Scotland will make it more difficult than it need be for the Charter to fit the Northern Irish context.
The new provision about the standards code and the code committee also raise interesting issues: specifically, how a regulator will ensure that serving editors’ views on the content of the code are not “decisive”.