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The Practical Guide to Public Inquiries

By: Isabelle Mitchell, Peter Watkin Jones, Sarah Jones, Emma Ireton
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Published: 10-12-2020
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 328
ISBN: 9781509928330
Imprint: Hart Publishing
RRP: £76.50
Online price : £61.20
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About The Practical Guide to Public Inquiries

This practical guide provides legal practitioners, participants, witnesses and all those with an interest in public inquiries, with stage-by-stage 'hands on' guidance on the process of public inquiries into matters of public concern.

With its user-friendly format of summaries, checklists, 'top tips' and flow charts, this book looks at the setting up of a public inquiry through to its close. It includes information on:

- the appointment of the chair and inquiry team;
- the choice and significance of the venue;
- the drawing up of inquiry procedures, protocols and rulings;
- the appointment and role of core participants;
- evidence taking;
- conducting and attending hearings;
- the role of experts;
- the writing and publication of the inquiry report.

Drawing on the authors' extensive experience as public inquiry lawyers, working on inquiries such as the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry, Leveson Inquiry and Grenfell Tower Inquiry, together with contributions from a number of other eminent practitioners in the field, this book provides valuable, comprehensive guidance on the public inquiry process.

Table Of Contents

1. Public Inquiries
What is a Public Inquiry?
The Role of a Public Inquiry
The Basis upon which an Inquiry may be Convened
The Challenges
Table of UK Public Inquiries Convened by a Minister
2. Appointments
The Chair and Panel
Process of Appointing a Chair and Panel Members
Speed of the Appointment Process
Issues for the Chair on Appointment
Consultation and Focus on the Terms of Reference
Counsel to the Inquiry
Appointment of Counsel
Role of Counsel
Appointment of the Solicitor to the Inquiry
Appointment of the Secretary to the Inquiry
Role of the Secretary to the Inquiry
The Inquiry Team: Additional Considerations
The Role of the Sponsoring Department
3. Location and Venue
Geographical Location
Choosing the Right Type of Premises
What to Expect from the Inquiry Premises
Separation of Certain Categories of Core Participants and Witnesses
Facilities for the Press and Broadcast Media
Venue Set-Up
4. IT Systems
Cost and Effectiveness
The Inquiry's IT Systems
The Inquiry Management System
Potential Features of Inquiry Management Systems
The Document Management System
Potential Features of a Document Management System
Hearing Room Systems
Interactions between a Document Management System and a Hearing Room System
Possible Features of Hearing Room Systems
The Inquiry's Website
Team Communications
Other IT Issues to Consider
Data Security and Storage
Ongoing Technical Support
Sending Documents to the Inquiry
5. Protocols, Rulings, Directions and Orders, and Engagement with the Media
Preparing and Publishing the Protocols
Examples of Inquiry Protocols
Common Issues to be Considered when Preparing Protocols
Internal Protocols and Working Practices
Rulings, Directions and Orders: Terminology
Engagement with the Media
6. Core Participants
What is a Core Participant or an Interested Party?
Who can be a Core Participant?
Applying for Core Participant Status
Challenging a Decision not to Designate Core Participant Status
Why be a Core Participant?
Advantages and Disadvantages
Recognised Legal Representatives
Joint Representation
A Good Working Relationship: Core Participants and the Inquiry
7. Funding
The Approach to Expenses of Participants to a Public Inquiry
The Scope of Awards for Funding
Information that must be Included in an Application for Funding
Alternative Sources of Funding
Joint Representation
Publication of Costs of an Inquiry
8. Documentary Evidence
Written Request for Documentary Evidence
Statutory Provisions and the Power to Require Disclosure
When Might an Inquiry Compel the Production of Documents?
Non-Statutory Inquiries
Withholding Documents
Opposing a Section 21 Notice Requiring the Production of Documents
Advance Disclosure by the Inquiry
Advantages to Recipients of Advance Disclosure
Confidentiality and Advance Disclosure
Public Access to Documents
Restriction Orders and Restriction Notices
9. Data Protection
Public Inquiries, Individuals and Organisations as Data Controllers
Principles for Processing Personal Data
Lawful Basis for Processing Data
The Legitimate Interest Assessment (LIA) and Public Inquiries
Organisations Engaged by a Public Inquiry as Data Processors
Freedom of Information
Requests made of a Public Authority and Exemptions
10. Evidence Taking
The Power to Require the Production of Evidence
Enforcement of a Section 21 Notice
When to Serve a Section 21 Notice?
Powers of Non-Statutory Inquiries
The Taking of Witness Statements
Preparing for a Witness Interview
The Witness Interview and Statement Preparation
Witness Support
Medical Evidence and Capacity
11. Oral Evidence and Hearings
Preliminary Hearings
Additional Procedural Hearings
Commencing the Inquiry's Substantive Hearings
General Structure of the Substantive Hearings
Giving Evidence to the Inquiry
Meeting with Witnesses in Advance of Giving Evidence?
The Order in Which Witnesses will be Called
Putting Written Statements into the Inquiry Record
The Role of Counsel to the Inquiry
Reviewing Evidence on a Rolling Basis
Questioning Witnesses
Suggesting Questions to Counsel to the Inquiry
Arguments for and against Limiting Questioning to Counsel to the Inquiry
Expertise of Core Participants and Interested Parties
Managing and Fielding Questions from Core Participants or Interested Parties
Time Pressure
Public Access and Restriction Notices and Orders
Examples of Restriction Orders and Notices Made
The Media and Hearings
Managing Private and Closed Hearings
12. Assessors, Seminars and Experts
The Role of Assessors
Advantages and Disadvantages of Appointing Assessors or Advisers
Expert Witnesses
Advantages and Disadvantages of using Expert Witnesses
Managing Seminars 7
13. Warning Letters and Rules 13, 14 and 15
The Salmon Principles, Maxwellisation and the Evolution of Warning Letters
Optional and Mandatory Warning Letters
Practical Difficulties Associated with Serving Warning Letters before Evidence is Given
Are Warning Letters before Evidence is Given Necessary?
To Whom Will the Warning Letter be Sent?
What does a Warning Letter Contain?
Mandatory Warning Letters: What is an 'Explicit or Significant Criticism'?
What Happens aft er a Response is made to a Warning Letter?
The Practical Steps to Preserve Confidentiality
Future of Rule 13?
14. Preparing and Publishing the Report
What is Included in the Report? 1
Who Writes the Report?
Reviews and Checks
Number of Recommendations and Public Understanding
Publication, Withholding of Information and Laying before Parliament
Procedure for Publication of the Report
Advance Access to the Report and the Lock-in Procedure
Challenging Decisions
15. Closing Down the Inquiry
Document Retention and Archiving: Planning and Implementation
Lessons Learned


“The book offers a lucid and accessible foundation in the practicalities of establishing, running and concluding a public inquiry. Its coverage is comprehensive, and it will be a boon to those lawyers and civil servants working for an inquiry … For those wanting an insight into public inquiries, this will be the go-to book.” –  Ryan Ross, Farrar's Building, Law Society Gazette

“The authors are to be complimented on an impressively comprehensive and authoritative guide to public inquiries. It addresses every aspect of their establishment and conduct, and provides clear guidance supplemented by eminently practical checklists, a boon to the busy practitioner. Such a guide is much needed, and will prove invaluable to all those involved in the wide range of statutory, non-statutory and other forms of inquiry that have become such a feature of our public life.” –  Sir Robert Owen, Chair, Litvinenko Inquiry

“This concise guide to inquiries … fills a serious gap. It sets out to offer practical guidance on public inquiry procedure for inquiry teams, legal practitioners, participants, witnesses and all those interested in the public inquiry process and does this very well. The authors are well qualified; three work in the Inquiries and Investigations Team at Eversheds and Emma Ireton is a law lecturer who has researched inquiries for many years. The account is comprehensive; it follows the course of an inquiry from the pre-inquiry stage to the post-inquiry stage of 'lessons learned'. The layout is easy to follow and, with its many examples of 'best (and worst) practice', those readers who are merely 'interested in the public inquiry process' will find it a good read.” –  Carol Harlow, Emeritus Professor of Law, London School of Economics and Political Science

The Practical Guide to Public Inquiries not only does exactly what it says on the tin but it does so with style and a level of detail that mines every conceivable aspect of the Public Inquiry process from its inception to ultimate conclusion. It will rapidly become essential reading for all those so engaged whether they be government officials tasked with setting up an inquiry, panel members, lawyers or members of the press or individuals, interested groups and families affected by the outcome. I found the use of boxed quotations and check lists to be of particular value in making this both a comprehensive and user-friendly tool for all concerned.” –  Barra McGrory QC, Former Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland

“My view is that this is an invaluable practitioners' guide for anyone coming to inquiry or investigative work whether in the public or private fields. The contributors list the major inquiries of the last twenty years; their expertise comes from having been in just about all of them. They cover every aspect of setting up an Inquiry from appointment of a Chair and their duties to data security and storage. I have already used it and will keep it with me.” –  Tom Crowther QC, Serjeants' Inn Chambers

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