What Exactly Is Market Integrity? An Analysis of One of the Core Objectives of Securities Regulation

2017 8 (2) William & Mary Business Law Review 215

23 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2016 Last revised: 27 May 2017

See all articles by Janet Austin

Janet Austin

University of New Brunswick - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 27, 2016


One of the main objectives of securities regulation around the world is to protect the integrity or fairness of the markets. This, together with protecting investors, improving the efficiency of markets and protecting the markets from systemic risk, now form the four fundamental goals of securities regulation.

However, what exactly is envisaged by this concept of market integrity or fairness? Are these simply norms of behaviour incapable of further definition? Despite their importance relatively little attention has been given to these concepts in the literature. Do they, for example, require securities regulators to just work towards eliminating dishonest trading practices such as market manipulation and insider trading? Or should regulators be required to go further and ensure, for example, transparency of corporate information, transparency of price information and equality of access to the markets?

Examining what is encompassed by the objectives of protecting market integrity and fairness is critical for a number of reasons. First, if they are only normative concepts, they may be incapable of measurement. This is problematic because it may then be impossible to assess the progress of securities regulators towards achieving these goals. In addition, if they are in fact incapable of further definition and measurement, innovations which improve market efficiency, another key goal of securities regulation, are likely to be permitted even if the innovation in question actually detracts from the fairness or integrity of the market. This is because improvements in market efficiency are generally quantifiable and therefore measured improvements in market efficiency create the momentum for them to be permitted.

This article seeks to analyse the concepts of market integrity and market fairness. It examines how they became one of the core goals of securities regulation around the world. The article then attempts to break down these concepts and provide further definition of them. It is hoped that this analysis will encourage the development of metrics to assess securities regulators’ performance and also allow the assessment of whether or not new market innovations should be adopted.

Keywords: securities, market integrity, market fairness, exchanges, market manipulation, insider trading

JEL Classification: G18, G28, K22

Suggested Citation

Austin, Janet, What Exactly Is Market Integrity? An Analysis of One of the Core Objectives of Securities Regulation (July 27, 2016). 2017 8 (2) William & Mary Business Law Review 215 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2814986 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2814986

Janet Austin (Contact Author)

University of New Brunswick - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4400
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5A3

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