A public inquiry is ordered by the Government to investigate events that are of serious public concern or where death has occurred. The purpose of an inquiry is to determine exactly what has happened, and to work out how to prevent it from happening again.
The Government sets the terms of reference of an inquiry, allowing them to be as broad or specific as required. A public inquiry may address issues as wide-ranging as transport accidents, fires, mismanagement of funds, disease outbreaks and decision making that has led to war. As a result, many areas of law can be involved in a public inquiry; this includes public law, civil liberties and human rights, crime, personal injury and clinical negligence.
Public inquiries can be led by an appointed person or panel who examine evidence in the form of documents and oral testimony relating to the concerned events. Those who played a key role in the investigated event(s) may be asked to provide evidence as a witness or be a core participant in the proceedings and can be represented by lawyers. This may be survivors of an incident, relatives of the deceased or other individuals directly involved in events.
Inquiries are complex matters that involve large amounts of evidence and extensive legal arguments and more often than not deal with distressing circumstances, therefore, specialist legal advice is essential.
At Duncan Lewis we have a dedicated team that specialises in this area of law and has the knowledge and expertise to handle sensitive issues that may arise during an inquiry. Our solicitors have significant experience representing individuals in public inquiries, throughout each stage of the inquiry process; this includes representing a number of core participants in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
Our inquiry team includes lawyers from a number of different departments including the criminal defence, civil liberties and human rights and personal injury. This breadth expertise means that clients receive the highest standard of advice, assistance and support throughout their involvement in an inquiry.
We understand that being involved in a public inquiry can be a long, arduous and often demanding experience and our team of lawyers is well equipped to assist in a sensitive and efficient manner, ensuring that the process runs smoothly and is as stress-free as possible.
Thanks to our cross-departmental proficiency, our public inquiry team are adept at interviewing and taking statements from witnesses and core participants, advising on the procedures of the inquiry, assisting with evidence and handling media scrutiny.
Appearing before a public inquiry can be a daunting experience and we understand that there are often wider interests at stake including an individual’s reputation, as well as professional, commercial and financial implications. We offer careful assistance, focussing on these concerns and how the immediate demands of the inquiry affect individuals, senior professionals, public officials, major corporations and public sector bodies.
Anyone who is deemed as a core participant or witness can apply for funding and our solicitors can apply for funding from the Inquiry team on your behalf.
Guidance on funding will be provided on the specific Inquiry’s website.
If you have been asked to be a core participant or witness in a public inquiry and require expert legal advice, please contact a member of our public inquiry team on 033 3772 0409.