T here is a danger of a legal logjam forming in the rush to establish facts and get answers to the Libor inter-bank lending rates scandal which has so far focussed on Barclays Bank but is likely to involve three or four other banks in due course.
The British and American regulatory authorities are still the front-runners after devoting several years to their inquiries; the US Department of Justice is also said to be interested in some aspects of the affair. On Thursday the House of Commons voted to set up a special cross-party committee of inquiry and yesterday the Serious Fraud Office, not to be left out, announced that it would be looking into the matter.
The parliamentary committee probably has the toughest task since the government is asking it to report by the end of the year. Its chairman, the Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, is a good choice but he will need the help of a QC and staff to make sure that the inquiry is to the point and is not diverted into political by-lanes. Amidst all this activity there has been no sign yet of this committee's all-important terms of reference. The government's haste is understandable since it is bringing a Banking Bill before Parliament in 2013 in response to the recommendations of the recent Vickers Commission on Banking!