A well-intentioned bid to tackle foreign investments that present a security risk to the UK could hit legitimate international business at a time when the economy can least afford it, the Law Society warned today as peers prepare to vote on amendments to the National Security and Investment Bill at the report stage.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ’Overall, the Law Society supports the National Security and Investment Bill, its clear intention to control foreign investments that may have national security implications, and the need for safeguards. However, as drafted the bill casts its net too wide across ill-defined territory and could easily make international business both more difficult and more uncertain in Britain.

’We need legislation that is proportionate and stands the test of time. The National Security and Investment Bill is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and will hinder global Britain’s growth.

’It is critical for investor confidence that the bill defines national security and distinguishes it from national interest. It should make explicit those factors that should not be taken into account in assessing whether a trigger event would give rise to a national security risk – such as domestic political interests.’

At present, the scope of the bill is so wide that thousands of deals might have to be scrutinised each year, she said. ’With so many deals to audit in such a short timeframe, complex deals could easily get held up and so be jeopardised.’