On the 23rd of last month I had the great pleasure of moderating a discussion on the highly controversial subject of the European Arrest Warrant; in my capacity as chairman of The City of London Forum.
The Forum was established with the aim of letting City professionals productively voice their concerns in an entirely non-partisan Westminster setting.
It is also intended to facilitate lively, stimulating and informative debate on a variety of topics, between a range of concerned stakeholders.
The European Arrest Warrant, or EAW, has for some time now been a matter of significant and growing concern to many in the financial services industry, particularly the hedge fund sector. As a legal instrument an EAW permits people to be extradited from the UK, while at the same time, the British courts are forbidden from assessing the merits of the case against the subject of the warrant.
This at the very least raises the spectre of a truly colossal compliance burden for firms, who would potentially have to self-regulate according to the criminal codes of 27 separate nations.
The evening saw presentations by Prof. Steven Peers a highly distinguished expert on EU criminal law from the University of Essex, Gerard Batten MEP who has taken up the case of several subjects of EAWs in the European Parliament, and Mr Mark Stephens who is the lawyer for the most famous subject of an EAW, Julian Assange.
Representatives from several NGOs, the Home Office, a range of law firms, and journalists enjoyed a fascinating evening in the company of both hedge fund workers, and parliamentarians; who included the likes of Baroness Helena Kennedy and Lord Pearson of Rannoch.
The City of London Forum shall be holding a variety of different dinners, debates and discussions over the course of the coming year.
Our high-profile focus on the subject of regulation in May, for example, is likely to be particularly significant and engrossing. And I look forward to telling you all about it.