The RPI and its Research
The Regulatory Policy Institute (RPI) was established as an independent educational charity in 1991 with the support of Hertford College, Oxford University, which was its original base. Its object, in brief, is to promote the study of regulation for the public benefit. Alongside organising seminars, conferences, and courses research and project work has been central to the pursuit of that aim from the beginning and, in alignment with the ethos of its founding institution, it has had a global reach.
The scope of this work is wide, reflecting an eclectic view of what constitutes regulation: roughly any type of ‘rule-book’ that governs a particular slice of economic activity. It has included policy areas such as: privatization and public ownership; market development and liberalisation; competition law and policy; regulation of network industries such as energy, communications, transport (road, rail and air) and water; banking and financial services, including payment systems; environmental regulation and climate change; regulation of pensions provision; health and care policies; public procurement; pharmaceutical regulation; social insurance/security systems and policies; regulation, including self-regulation of professional services, particularly legal services; industrial and technology/innovation policies; international trade agreements.
Within this broad domain of activity, three particular strands of experience and expertise stand out: (1) Assisting with thinking about new regulatory rule-books in unprecedented contexts. (2) Developing alternative regulatory approaches/options when existing arrangements appear to be going off track. (3) Providing independent, expert ‘second opinion’ assessments of published public policy documents, whether they reflect past decisions or proposals for the future.
Some of the Research Group’s work is self-initiated and supported from general funds, particularly in areas where broad issues arise that may not, at the relevant time, present as ‘problems’ to any of the participants in specific regulatory processes. The funding for this is necessarily highly limited, however, and the the great majority of projects are undertaken in response to grants, commissions or contracts to study a defined aspect of respect policy.
Project teams are assembled by the Chair of the Research Group from the members of the RPI’s contact network, who come together for specific pieces of work. The Research Group itself comprises Members of the RPI’s Council and designated Research Associates (RAs) or Senior Research Associates (SRAs). Either a Member of the RPI Council/Board or one of the SRAs leads each project.
The Institute operates a strict ‘public domain test’ before embarking upon projects: the authors of resulting reports must be able to make those reports available to the public or, if that is not feasible, the study must be for a body with a public service remit (such as a government department, regulatory agency, inter-governmental organisation, charity etc.).
The Institute welcomes all types of support for its research projects (funding, commissions participation, advice, etc.), at all levels of contribution. Participation in workstreams and projects is welcomed from anyone who has knowledge and expertise to add, subject only to their commitment to the project’s own, ‘for the public benefit’ aims and purposes.
All funding sources are acknowledged on published documents.
Dr Catherine Yarrow
Dr Catherine Yarrow took over as the Institute’s Executive Director in 2023. She holds a first class degree in Economics and Philosophy from the University of York and completed her PhD at the same institution. She has contributed to the work of the Institute for over a decade, previously holding the roles of Research Associate and Director of Administration.
Harold Hutchinson is global energy analyst, with a focus on renewable energy and energy transformations. He is currently the Managing Director in Alternative Energy at Investec. This follewed 7 years as Head of UK Equity Research. He is a former Lecturer at Hertford College, Oxford where he taught PPE, and a former lecturer in Economics at the University of St. Andrews. He has published several academic papers over the years and is a regular author of the RPI Insights blog. Harold also sits on the Council of Management.
Gerard Fox is an RPI Director and Senior Research Associate responsible for the RPI Research Programme. He is a former Managing Director of Credit Suisse with over three decades’ experience in financial markets, and an East Sussex County Councillor. He Chairs the East Sussex Pension Fund Committee, is a member of the Corporate Programme Advisory Group on Investor Engagement for the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and is a Chapter Zero member. He has interests in renewable energy innovation and hydrogen policy. He graduated in Economics & Politics from Bristol University and has a recent Master’s Degree in the Economics & Policy of Energy & the Environment from UCL. He is a member of the UCL Behavioural Economics for the Environment team. A long time investor in the wine business, he is the co-owner of the award-winning Fox & Fox English Sparkling Wine brand. Gerard also sits on the Council of Management.
Steve Smith is a Council Member of the RPI. An economist by training, Steve has extensive experience in the energy and financial services industry. He spent more than a decade at Lloyds Banking Group on the Retail Executive Committee overseeing innovation and working with fintechs. Prior to that, he served on the Board on the British Energy regulator Ofgem running both the markets and networks divisions and delivering major industry and regulatory reform. Steve has also been an angel investor in energy startups in the UK.
Professor George Yarrow
Professor George Yarrow is one of the founders of the RPI and an Emeritus Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford University. He is also currently a member of the RPI’s Council and of the Board of RPI ANZ.
Council of Management
Professor Tony Appleyard
Professor Tony Appleyard is Interim Chair of the Council of Management. He is an Emeritus Professor (Accounting and Finance) at the Newcastle University Business School (NUBS) and, pre-retirement, served as the School’s Ethics Convener. He was a member of the first Board of the RPI (1991) and has been an active participant in the Institute’s work for 25 years thereafter.
David Gray CBE
David Gray CBE has spent 30 years working in financial markets, mainly with HSBC, and has extensive experience of the energy sector including advisory roles on the initial privatisations of British Gas and the electricity sector.
Phillip Davies was founding Chairman of the Regulatory Policy Institute ANZ, and a Council member of the Regulatory Policy Institute in the UK and a Board member of RPI ANZ. Philip holds an MBA from London Business School, a Master’s degree in Economics from the College of Europe and a BA(Econ) from the University of Manchester. Philip has extensive leadership experience in the energy and water industries in the UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
Dermot Nolan was CEO of Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, from 2014-2020, and also chaired the UK regulatory network (the umbrella organisation encompassing all of Britain’s economic regulators). Prior to this, he was Executive Chair of the Irish energy and water regulator. He has also worked in competition policy and telecom regulation.
Sebastian Eyre has been employed in a number of senior regulatory roles including Director of Research for JHA, Head of Energy Market Regulation for EDF Energy and GNE. He has worked for Affinity Water as a Senior Economic Consultant and Thames Water as an Economic Regulation Manager. He has degrees from LSE (MSc Econ); Exeter (PhD) in Merger Control and an MBA in finance (Henley) and has published on topics including Competition policy and energy regulation.
Ed Humpherson is head of the Office for Statistics Regulation, the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority, and sits on the Authority Board. He joined the Authority in January 2014, and led the creation of OSR in 2016 as a new body to set and enforce standards for UK public data and statistics. Before joining the Authority, he was an Executive Board member of the National Audit Office, responsible for economic affairs. Ed is also a trustee of Pro Bono Economics and Motability.
David Stewart has held a sequence of leadership roles at Ofcom in relation to enforcement and competition policy. He also worked briefly on secondment as Competition Policy and Markets Director at Monitor, the sector regulator of UK NHS-funded health care services. David was also Director of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Energis and Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the international division of Cable & Wireless. He was previously a lawyer in private practice with Gilbert & Tobin and Minter Ellison in Australia.
Hannah Nixon has widespread experience in economics and regulation across a range of industries. She was the first CEO of the Payment Systems Regulator, the economic regulator of the UK’s £80 trillion payments industry, responsible for driving competition and innovation in the interests of consumers. Hannah was also a senior partner at Ofgem, where she had responsibility for the networks division. Until recently she was also a NED of the Jersey and Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authorities.
Dr Christopher Decker
Dr Christopher Decker has over 20 years’ experience as a professional economist during which time he has combined an academic career with practical advisory work for government bodies, regulators and private clients.
Tony is an experienced Non-Executive Director and FTSE 100/PE owned Board-level Executive (Severn Trent plc, Cadent Gas Ltd), with expertise in strategy, regulation and sustainability mostly within the utilities sector.
He has a background in economics and policy (Chief Economist at OFWAT), Management Consultancy and academia.
Nicholas is Executive Administration Assistant for the RPI. He is a Master of Physics in Physics with Philosophy from the University of York, and is currently working toward a PhD in Physics and Philosophy from the same institution.