Drawing on an evaluative framework inspired by the capability approach, the article assesses the nature and implications of company responses to the British legislation transposing Directive 2002/14/EC on information and consultation rights of employees. Evidence from five case studies in the business services and the financial sectors suggests that the introduction of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 drove the spread of voluntary arrangements. However, the legislation has not promoted so far an effective framework for the development of deliberative procedures between management and labour with the aim of advancing a 'capability for voice'. This is attributed to its institutional design and the limited degree to which extra-legal 'conversion factors' are available in the British industrial relations system. © The Author(s) 2010.