Regulation and public law

Public inquiries

Public inquiries. A panel of legal specialists sat in a hearing

How we can help

Advice and support from experienced solicitors

We have experience advising those who are conducting public inquiries as well as representing individuals and organisations who are taking part in a public inquiry, whether as a designated core participant or as a witness.

What are public inquiries?

There are two types of Public Inquiry in which you may become involved:

  • Statutory (those established under the Inquiries Act 2005); and
  • Non-statutory inquiries

Statutory inquiries are more formal and have powers to obtain documents and compel witnesses to give evidence. However, both types of Public Inquiries are established to investigate and review in detail, events which involve a matter of public concern.

Each public inquiry will have its own terms of reference, which will set out why the inquiry has been set up and what it is investigating. The overall purpose of every public inquiry is to provide an impartial view of what has happened, to identify any failings which may have occurred, and to make recommendations for the future.

Public inquiries are chaired by an experienced professional, who is often a serving or retired judge. Some inquiries also have a panel of members, each of whom will bring relevant experience to support the inquiry Chair with the issues that are the subject of the inquiry. The public inquiry will collect and review documentary evidence including witness statements, and may hold private or public hearings to hear oral submissions and oral evidence from witnesses

Those who may become involved in a public inquiry include individuals (victims/survivors or their relatives), professionals, senior executives, public officials, charities, public sector bodies and businesses.

The final stage of a public inquiry is the publication of the inquiry report, setting out details of the evidence which the inquiry has reviewed, what conclusions it has reached - which often includes criticisms of individuals and organisations, and what recommendations the inquiry is making, with the intention to prevent similar issues from happening again.

There are a number of ways you may become involved in a public inquiry. Participation may be voluntarily, because you want to participate and are responding to a call for evidence, or it may be because you have received a formal request for evidence from an inquiry and you need to respond. Whatever the reason, we have professional and dedicated solicitors who can guide you through the process. 

Our expertise

Our expertise includes:

  • Advising on law and process
  • Taking and preparing witness statements
  • Making applications and providing advocacy at hearings
  • Handling large scale e-disclosure exercises, involving questions of data protection law, legal professional privilege and commercial sensitivity
  • Related legal challenges, including judicial review
  • Instructing barristers and expert witnesses

We recognise that every client is unique and that no two matters will be the same. As a result, we work collaboratively to provide a seamless and tailored service to each and every one of our clients to meet their individual needs and protect their interests.

Whether your involvement in a Public Inquiry is voluntary or not, we understand that it can be daunting and that you need specialist advice to support and guide you through the process, either as an individual, or as an organisation supporting your senior employees or providing documentary evidence.

As a multi-disciplinary full service firm, our Public Inquiries solicitors are able draw on experienced specialists from across the firm who have subject matter expertise relevant to the scope of a particular inquiry, or to the work of the individual client. This enables us on each client instruction to assemble the strongest team, designed to ensure the best possible result for our client.

In addition to advising on your direct participation in a Public Inquiry, we can also provide advice and support on related matters and proceedings, which may include: 

  • Inquests
  • Reputation management
  • Regulatory investigations
  • Professional regulatory / disciplinary proceedings
  • Charity law investigations
  • Criminal investigations (defendant)

Recent matters

Examples of our recent public inquiry experience include acting for clients involved in:

  • UK Covid-19 Inquiry
  • Infected Blood Inquiry
  • Grenfell Tower Inquiry
  • Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

Our team

Our team members are recognised experts in their respective fields who are supported by a talented cohort of solicitors, legal executives, trainees, paralegals and executive assistants:

Charging information

Charges are usually based on our hourly rates plus administrative charges and disbursements. We will provide you with an initial estimate of your likely legal costs and will update this as your requirements or the circumstances of the work change.

Depending on the public inquiry, funding may be available for legal representation for core participants.

We would be pleased to discuss your requirements free of charge and tailor a costs proposal accordingly.

Get in touch

If you would like to speak with a member of the team you can contact our regulation and public law solicitors by email, by telephone on +44 (0)20 3826 7524 or complete our enquiry form.

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