Report from WGI (MSMEs), by Bryce Williams

From 16-20 October 2017, UNCITRAL Working Group I (MSMEs) met in Vienna to try and finalise its work on a legislative guide relating to business registries.  The guide will form one pillar of its ongoing work in reducing legal obstacles faced by micro, small and medium enterprises, and facilitating the entry of these enterprises into the formal economy.

Observing the dynamics of the WGI in this crucial phase was a fascinating experience – from both a substantive and procedural perspective.  The Working Group had to grapple with the guide’s approach to a number of important, contemporary challenges including the potential of distributed ledger / blockchain technology, and the importance of measuring and promoting women’s participation in MSMEs.  Given the topic has been under consideration since 2014, the continuing relevance of the guide beyond its formal adoption by the Commission will be an important measure of its success.

Naturally, extracting a consensus from hundreds of legal technocrats from all over the world, each with their own legal backgrounds, prejudices and languages, is a challenge.  Key to this challenge is the chair of the Working Group (who is primarily tasked with the job of herding cats) – in this instance, a role performed ably by Professor Maria Malaguti of Italy.

Thankfully, the journey is nearly at an end and the fruits of the Working Group’s labours will soon percolate across the world.  The next challenge? A uniform limited liability entity designed specifically for the needs of MSMEs.

By Bryce Williams: bryce.d.williams@gmail.com

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