Public Funding for legal representation before the Covid Inquiry

Written 3rd July 2022 by Matthew Claughton

Legal Representation at Public Expense is governed by the Inquiry’s March 2022 Costs Protocol This Protocol relates to either a ‘Core Participant’ in the Inquiry or an individual witness not so designated. A written application for funding in respect of Core Participants and witnesses must be made to the Chair to the Inquiry. A separate Protocol will be published in relation to considering applications for Core Participant status. 

General Principles

 A person is eligible can apply for funding if they are: 
  • attending a Public Hearing of the Inquiry either to give evidence or to produce any document or other thing; or 
  • they have such particular interest in the proceedings/outcome of the Inquiry which justifies an award.
The Chair will, when coming to a decision, take into account: 
  • the financial resources of the applicant financial resources and, 
  • whether making an award is in the public interest.
The Protocol expressly states that the Chair envisages that awards will be made only in cases where she decides that: 
  • the applicant: has a direct link to, and evidence to provide in respect of, the matters set out in the Inquiry’s terms of reference; and/or
  • has a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters set out in those terms of reference; and/or
  • may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the Inquiry’s proceedings or in the report/interim report.
and the applicant would be prejudiced in seeking representation if they were to be in any doubt about funds becoming available and there are no other means by which such representation can be funded;  and  it is fair, necessary, reasonable and proportionate to make an award. 

Substantial Bodies and Wealthy Individuals

Awards will generally not be made, in respect of the legal expenses of substantial bodies, or of individuals who could reasonably expect to be met by such bodies.

Scope of the Award

An award, it will normally be limited to the legal representative having a role in relation to some or all of the following matters: 
  • taking initial instructions; 
  • advising the client in relation to the making of a witness statement and/or otherwise providing evidence to the Inquiry, in accordance with any request made by the Inquiry under Rule 9 of the Rules;
  • considering disclosure material and/or that contained in an Inquiry Bundle (or any limited Bundle in the case of an individual witness who is not a Core Participant);
  • advising the client in relation to any warning letter issued by the Chair under rule 13 of the Rules;
  • making an opening statement, where permitted
  • representing the client during their oral evidence (and the evidence of others, if necessary);
  • making an application to be permitted to examine any witness giving evidence
  • making final submissions, where necessary.


In order to manage its work effectively, the Inquiry will divide the issues to be investigated into modules. Awards made by the Chair under this Protocol may be limited to matters relating to one or more of the modules.


Written applications for funding of legal expenses should be sent to the Solicitor to the Inquiry in writing for the Chair to determine. An application should set out
  • reasons why legal representation is necessary; 
  • which Inquiry module(s) the application relates to, with reasons;
  • the extent of the applicant’s financial resources and confirmation that there are no other means by which such representation can be funded
  • the nature of the public interest that will be served by an award being made from public funds
  • the nature and function of the legal representation for which the award is sought;
  • size and composition of the legal team including the seniority and proposed hourly charging rates for all solicitors and paralegals to be engaged,
  • where it is thought necessary to instruct counsel, the reasons for so doing,
  • estimated duration of the recognised legal representation;
  • the number of hours each week for which it is anticipated that the recognised legal representative’s team will be engaged on Inquiry work
  • the number of hours each week for which it is anticipated that counsel will be engaged on Inquiry work;
  • the amount of time that it is anticipated will be spent in conference at the end of each day of hearings; and
  • particulars of any other foreseeable expenses relating to legal representation.

Grant of Representation

Subject to the cap on the maximum number of hours that can be charged by an applicant’s recognised legal representative, a. the representative will agree with the Solicitor to the Inquiry in advance the hourly rates that are to apply to them and/or to any other qualified lawyer who, will be appointed to assist them. Where no agreement can be reached regarding hourly rates, the Chair will determine such rates as she considers appropriate upon receipt of representations in writing on behalf of the applicant The maximum hourly rates for travel and waiting time by the members of an applicant’s legal team shall be half the agreed hourly rate 

Single Legal Representative

The Chair must direct that core participants shall be represented by a single recognised legal representative where 
  • their interests in the outcome of the Inquiry are similar; 
  • the facts that they are likely to rely on in the course of the Inquiry are similar;
  • it is fair and proper for them to be jointly represented

Conflict of Interests

Where the interests of any applicant may conflict with the interests of other parties separate legal representation may be granted 

Determination of applications by the Chair

The Solicitor to the Inquiry will notify the applicant and, where applicable, their recognised legal representative, in writing of the Chair’s determination and, where an award is made, the terms of the award.  Billing Procedures Where the Chair has made an award, the applicant to whom that award has been made must submit bills relating to their legal expenses to the Solicitor to the Inquiry at monthly intervals. 

Olliers Solicitors Public Inquiry Team

Olliers has many years of experience of representing individuals appearing as witnesses or core participants in public inquiries. We advise and represent throughout all stages of the process.

Matthew Claugton

Managing Director


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