Writing this preface in the depths of the crisis sweeping the world with the spread of covid-19, it is tempting to wonder whether banking regulation will fall down the agenda of priorities for governments when matters of life and death loom. The wave of corporate and individual insolvencies that the crisis has caused means, however, that the way that banks respond to economic crisis has never been as important as it is now, and the law and regulation that controls that response has never before affected the lives of so many people so directly.
The way that governments and regulators handle this crisis in the coming months is likely to make the difference between the success and failure of millions of businesses, and the well-being of hundreds of millions of people. Banking regulation will have a critically important role to play in determining how and when banks can and must help their customers get through this difficult time, and financial regulators must play their part to help facilitate this.
Like much else in the financial world, banking regulation will never be the same again and this crisis is likely to lead to new regulatory initiatives to help banks to support stricken economies and businesses. Regulatory lawyers will also have their part to play in helping banks navigate the immediate crisis and any subsequent reforms.
While operational resilience was already at the heart of many financial regulators' agendas before the crisis, it will now surely feature even more urgently. It is important that reforms and still greater expectations in this area are developed in a joined-up way, recognising the critical need for market participants to work together closely to maximise resilience rather than running their own operational resilience projects in isolation.
Looking forward with hope to a time when the crisis eases, other pressing issues will move back up the agenda for banks, such as their continuing efforts to harness the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of emerging technologies, and the role of the financial sector in helping to address climate change and its consequences. Whatever the outcome of the crisis, it seems certain that there will be many lessons to learn, both for banks and regulators. It is to be hoped that as the crisis evolves, cross-border regulatory cooperation and, where necessary, regulatory deference, will operate effectively and not be inhibited by irrational political considerations.
This edition covers 37 countries and territories in addition to our usual chapters on international initiatives and the European Union. Very special thanks are due to all of the authors who have devoted time to the book this year despite, in many countries, working from home, often in difficult and unexpected conditions amid 'lockdown' arrangements on account of covid-19, without any reliable indication of when those arrangements will come to an end.
Thank you also to the partners and staff of Slaughter and May in London and Hong Kong for continuing to support and contribute to this book, and in particular to Nick Bonsall, Ben Kingsley, Peter Lake, Emily Bradley, Selmin Hakki, Jiayi Li, Jennyfer Moreau, Loye Oyedotun, Tolek Petch, Tamara Raoufi and David Shone.
Finally, the team at Law Business Research, in many cases also working in difficult circumstances, deserve great thanks for their understanding, flexibility and true professionalism in seeing this edition through to publication in the midst of so much disruption and inconvenience. This has been a truly heroic effort on their part. Thank you in particular to Tommy Lawson and Katie Hodgetts.
I wondered in the Preface to the 10th edition whether by the time of the 11th edition the position on Brexit would be clearer. That is, of course, only partially true, but no one imagined a year ago that Brexit would be comprehensively overshadowed by a crisis such as that caused by covid-19.
It is to be hoped that the crisis will be under control by the time of the next edition, and that banks and their regulators will have played a leading and positive role in helping economies begin to recover from the shock they are now experiencing.
Slaughter and May