Government plans to give the Financial Services Authority (FSA) power to impose civil fines for "market abuse" are "too extreme" and risk driving investment business out of the City, according to Clifford Chance.
Tim Plews, a partner in the firm's regulation and financial institutions group, which acts for companies being investigated by financial regulators, has written a 13-page commentary attacking the proposals.
Both the Treasury's draft Financial Services and Markets Bill, published at the end of July, and the FSA's own consultation paper on market abuse, propose introducing a code of market conduct for FSA-regulated companies.
Breach of this code would be seen as "market abuse" and, controversially, the FSA would have the power to impose a "civil fine".
But Plews says supervisors like the Stock Exchange are better placed to regulate market conduct. "Exchanges are closest to the marketplace and are keenly aware of the fine line dividing acceptable market practice and market abuse."