Bangladesh’s original transport disruptor

“Rickshaws continue to grow in numbers thanks to trade unions” (Dhaka Tribune, 4 November 2017)

30 years before Uber entered the Bangladesh market, rickshaws were ‘disrupting’ Dhaka’s transportation industry by making transport more accessible and creating work for the marginalized, in a city that has long been under-served by public transport. Rent-seeking associations – under the cynical guise of being ‘trade unions’ – have not emerged overnight but have grown in the vacuum created by a combination of over-regulation, under-enforcement, judicial gridlock and regulatory capture.

In discussions regarding regulatory design, it is common to speak of how the law delegates regulatory powers to ‘gatekeepers’. Doctors and pharmacists are responsible for preventing potential drug abuse among patients and customers and more recently, ISPs are responsible for filtering illegal content. They monitor behaviour in a manner that regulators cannot. What this vacuum does is effectively position these associations – and I imagine Uber and its likes in the future as well – as de facto gatekeepers. They monitor and control who can ply our roads but unlike de jure gatekeepers, they have no accountability and little incentive to close the gates.

The ‘safety valve’ for giving de jure private gatekeepers some authority is that they can be held liable if they break certain terms. Some of those terms are codified in hard law, others in ‘soft’ law (like industry best practices that are self-regulated), the idea being that hard law will always be playing catch-up while soft-law is better at keeping up with more ‘creative’ practices that might harm the public interest. Of course, this system is not perfect but in the case of de facto gatekeepers like the ones I mention above, they carry out certain functions that they have not been formally authorized to do. Trade associations have a coterie that can profit handsomely from issuing illegal licenses and can extort poor rickshaw-pullers that have no/limited alternate employment options.

Some de facto gatekeepers can become de jure gatekeepers. See how Air BnB is being regulated in several cities, where they underwent just such a transformation. In Amsterdam, a property will be automatically removed from the platform if it has been rented-out for more than 60 days in a year.


The Hague


The Ideal Law School Graduate

The Ideal Law School Graduate

According to a study conducted by an American University, the ideal law school graduate is one who can combine inter-personal skills with an ability to conduct research, etc. Not a particularly surprising conclusion, it has to be said!



Unpaid work experience a bar to diversity, say young lawyers

Unpaid work experience a bar to diversity, say young lawyers

Fewer legal jobs and measly financial returns coupled with rising costs of legal education are not only causing young people to go into substantial debt but also creating spaces for exploitative conditions in the form of an increasing number of unpaid jobs/internships.



The UK “Visa Bond” Scheme

Visitor bond schemes are not the answer to the problems of immigration

As some of you may know, the UK Government is considering piloting a visa scheme where citizens of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria have to pay a GBP 3000 “bond” to be granted a visa of over 6-months in duration. While the specifics of such a scheme have yet to be detailed, the backlash from the Commonwealth has been tremendous with many politicians and policy-makers demanding that reciprocal arrangements be put in place for British tourists. If such a scheme is trialled by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, it will not only alienate potential tourists, who may not have GBP 3000 to spare, but also Commonwealth students and residents in the UK, who would not be able to have their family and friends visit if they wished to. 

This Guardian article rightly points out, in further detail, why such a scheme is not a good idea in its present, nebulous form.  

My personal, non-legal feelings about such a scheme: If you’re so keen to restrict the number of “illegal immigrants” overstaying in the UK, why not implement exit controls for Non-EU/EEA passport holders instead, as they do in Germany? I would think that would only require a couple of more counters, personnel and computers at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, etc.? As this article points out, would a GBP 3000 ‘visa bond’ really deter someone who wants to overstay? They’d just think its another overhead incumbent in the migration process. On a more sinister note, it would allow human traffickers to charge more for their ‘services’.

– Morshed,

My article in this week’s Law & Our Rights

Law Vision: Workers’ insurance law can ensure equitable compensation

The title has been changed and some of the sentences have been omitted, but it looks largely intact: my article on workers’ compensation in this week’s Law & Our Rights. This article is a product of the research I had done in May and June, 2013 to write the ‘Note’ that I had posted on this blog on 27 May, 2013.


Judgment at Nuremberg and Dworkin

This film should be compulsory viewing for all students of Jurisprudence. Despite predating Dworkin and his “Taking Rights Seriously” by a number of years, this film on the prosecution of four Nazi judges marvelously illustrates Dworkin’s theory on ‘hard cases’ and the actions of judges when confronted with the hardest of such cases.

This is best captured by the submission of the inimitable defense attorney, Hans Rolfe (portrayed by Maximilian Schell, who won as Oscar for his role), after the Court has been shown horrifying images and videos of Nazi concentration camps in Dachau and Belsen: “the most ironic part of it is that the prosecution showed these films against these defendants…men who stayed in power for one reason only, to prevent worse things from happening. Who is the braver man? The man who escapes, or resigns in times of peril or the man who stays on his post at the risk of his own personal safety?”
Source: Wikipedia – Judgment at Nuremberg

– Morshed