BKL tax partner David Whiscombe comments via the UK200 Group on news that three quarters of people don’t think big firms put profits before ethical standards.
I worry about the apparent naivety of nearly a quarter of the population who think that big firms don’t put profits first or that they could give a stuff about SMEs.
As for regulating large businesses in their conduct towards smaller ones, I would say:
The wider and fundamental problem is inequality of bargaining power. There is no earthly point in giving additional powers to the weaker party which, commercially, he will be frightened to use. In these circumstances freedom of contract is illusory and should not be sacrosanct. There is precedent for the law stepping in to limit freedom of contract where there is unequal bargaining power – think for example of consumer law, property law and employment law. Similar statutory protections should be afforded, where relevant, to commercial contracts – backed up (as in the other areas mentioned) by sanctions under criminal law. The law doesn’t generally allow the strong to bully the weak: it should not do so in the field of commerce.