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Fuzzy Legality and National Styles of Regulation: government intervention in the Israel downstream oil market

Dr Margit Cohn
Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Email: msmargit@mscc.huji.ac.il|

Date: 12 February 2002
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue
: CARR Seminar Room, H615

Abstract

Even in today's fragmented regulatory world, legislative mandate is still considered an important component of regulatory packages. The presentation examines one aspect of the role of statute law in regulatory reality through the concept of "fuzzy legality". This concept serves as a collective title for six different regulatory techniques, all of which, although "perfectly legal", deviate in their operation from the ideal-type regulatory arrangement, which is presumably topped and dominated by legislative mandate. Under a veneer of legality, each of these practices may enable actors to accumulate covert and unaccountable gains.

This framework is applied to a historical-institutional case-study of a crucial retail market. The history of state intervention in the Israeli downstream oil (supply) market is dominated by "fuzzy legality", which allowed the industry, acting in concert with the government regulator, to retain a lucrative, practically non-accountable arrangement in changing politico-economic climates. Three central forces encouraged the continuation of fuzziness: a "cloud" of state-security, institutional "stickiness" that preserved colonial Mandatory legal structures, and a prevalent national culture of non-legalism. The presentation ends with a careful suggestion regarding the Israeli national style of regulation. In contrast to American "adversarial legalism" and its opposite, "consensual non-legalism", the Israeli regulatory style may be capped "adversarial non-legalism", a style that shows less promise for balancing between market and public interests.

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