British Banking Strategy and the International Challenge by Derek F. Channon

By Derek F. Channon

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Intense competition led to severe crises and numerous banking failures, so in 1844 the Bank Charter Act restricted the right of note issue to banks that had already had it before 1844. In a second Act, joint-stock banking was regulated and the establishment of new joint-stock banks became almost impossible. In 1857 many of the restrictions imposed by the Joint Stock Bank Act of 1844 were lifted and in 1858 the principle of limited liability was allowed. At first relatively few banks adopted it, but the Companies Act of 1862 helped the rationalisation and merging of joint-stock banks by removing the minimum limit on bank shares.

With this Act the Department of Trade was granted powers to exempt banks from the provisions of the Act and initially this exemption list was the same as the Schedule Eight list of banks. However, Section 127 of the 1967 Companies Act amended this earlier legislation and led to the formation of a new list of banks, known as the Section 127 list. Following legal obscurities about the distinction between a bank and a money lender, under Section 123 of the 1967 Companies Act, the Board of Trade was given responsibility for deciding which institutions could be termed as bona fide banks in this respect.

One important effect of all this was to a recognition of responsibility by the shareholders that went substantially beyond the narrow limits laid down by British limited liability law. Following a breakdown in its internal control systems, Lloyds Bank sustained substantial foreign exchange losses through its Lugano office, and this in tum caused the Bank of England to intervene in advising banks of a number of factors that it considered ought to be included in internal control systems for foreign exchange operations.

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