The following Public Law practice note Produced in partnership with Jim Duffy of 1COR provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
The procedure by which a public inquiry is conducted will vary significantly from one inquiry to the next. Even for inquiries established under the Inquiries Act 2005 (IA 2005), the associated inquiry rules are not particularly prescriptive as to how they ought to be conducted.
Similarly, there is a dearth of official guidance. The Cabinet Office’s Inquiries Guidance: Guidance for Inquiry Chairs and Secretaries and Sponsor Departments was described by a witness giving evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005 as ‘frankly…no use at all’.
This Practice Note focuses on statutory rather than non-statutory inquiries. For background reading, see Practice Note: Public inquiries.
In practice most inquiries roughly follow a number of key steps:
the announcement of the inquiry, its terms of reference and the appointment of a chair/panel
the opening of the inquiry
engaging an inquiry secretary, inquiry staff, a solicitor to the inquiry and counsel to the inquiry
obtaining and securing evidence
initial investigations, scoping exercises, and relevancy checks—this usually leads to the elaboration of a list of issues
disclosure, and the issuing of any disclosure protocols
preparation of procedural and costs protocols
oral evidence, in person or by video link
warning letters, and
the publication of the inquiry report
This Practice Note will now examine some
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