Specialist Public Inquiry Lawyers
Olliers have many years of experience of individuals appearing as witnesses or core participants in public inquiries. We can advise and represent you throughout all stages of the process.
What is an Inquiry?
A public inquiry is often held following an event which causes or is capable of causing public concern. Public inquiries are usually brought after a death (or multiple deaths) as a way to learn from any mistakes so that change can be implemented. They are also a way of trying to obtain answers about what happened – they are a way to hold institutions to account for their actions. Public inquiries tend to be highly emotive and to attract large scale media coverage as they are often high profile. Uniquely, the proceedings are often televised on YouTube, placing additional pressure on those involved.
What happens in an Inquiry?
Public inquiries are ordered by the government and led by an independent chair, who is usually a senior judge. The Chair may deal with matters alone or head up a panel who will hear the evidence. The Chair can direct that the police interview and obtain witness statements from witnesses, as well as conduct further investigations. The chair will call witnesses to give evidence during the inquiry. Those witnesses will be asked questions by the team of lawyers involved. Sometimes the inquiries livestream their proceedings on platforms such as YouTube, so the proceedings are very public. Inquiries can also take a long time to deal with matters – usually several years. At the conclusion of the inquiry, a report will be published setting out what the inquiry has determined and their recommendations. Recommendations can be made to stop similar injustices occurring in the future.
What is core participant status?
Core participant status must be approved by the chair to the inquiry. Core participants are parties involved in a public inquiry who may have played a direct or significant role in the subject of the inquiry. They can be individuals, government bodies (for example the police) or corporate bodies. For those who appear as core participants the appearance at the inquiry may be of very real importance and there may be much at stake for those compelled to appear.
What is the difference between an inquest and an inquiry?
An inquiry can have a much broader remit than an inquest.Both will examine the circumstances in which the deceased died, but an inquiry can go further with its investigation. Cases can start as inquests but turn in to inquiries.
How can Olliers help me?
Whether you’re a witness, core participant or professionally involved in an inquiry, our team at Olliers is perfectly placed to guide you through what is always a complex and challenging process. If funding for representation is not available from insurers, your employer or public funding (the latter is highly restricted), we can assist you at highly competitive private rates.
We can help with:
- whether there is likely to be an inquiry
- whether to apply to be an ‘core participant’ in the inquiry
- witness summonses
- your right to see the evidence
- the provision of witness statements
- what will be made public if an inquiry takes place
- challenging decisions made by the independent chair
- instructing expert advocates to appear at court for you
- how to protect your interests if you are concerned about giving evidence
- advice about press coverage and the public nature of giving evidence at an inquiry
- how to deal with other investigations such as those of the police, the IOPC or the Care Quality Commission
- funding options for representation
- Representation of core participant during the Manchester Arena Bombing Inquiry
- Representation of key witness during the Manchester Arena Bombing Inquiry
- Representation of an interested party during Operation Resolve, the police investigation in to Hillsborough
- Representation of a key witness during the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), including advice during the police interviews before the Inquiry and attendance at the Inquiry itself
- 20 years experience of representing employees of private security companies during police investigations, IOPC investigations, criminal prosecutions and inquests