The Covid-19 Public Inquiry

An investigation into the coronavirus pandemic and the UK Government's response.

Legal advice is always given with an awareness and deep experience of the wider legal context (in our case, public inquiries) and a sensitivity to the client’s objectives.

Legal 500 UK 2021

Their manner is excellent. They understand your needs and are sympathetic to them. They listen. Their advice is thoughtful and realistic.

Legal 500 UK 2022

They are outstanding; they combine high-level legal skills with real human understanding

Chambers UK 2021

"The team is small but packs a punch well above its size: they are quick, flexible, continuously on the ball and efficient."

Legal 500 UK 2021

"Knowledgeable, responsive, thoughtful, professional, well networked and well connected, with a touch of elegance which goes beyond what one normally encounters in a legal firm.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

The Covid-19 Public Inquiry is set to begin its work in Spring 2022. Kingsley Napley LLP are expert public inquiries solicitors, top ranked in Tier 1 and Band 1 of leading directories Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners respectively. We will be watching the inquiry closely.

 

Background to the Covid-19 Public Inquiry

On 12 May 2021 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an independent public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, to be held in Spring 2022. This inquiry is likely to be one of the widest ranging that has ever been held, given the extent of the impact of Covid-19 on almost all aspects of life and society.

The public inquiry follows on from the Parliamentary report of the Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, published on 12 October 2021, which highlighted some early lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic and was critical of the government’s early response.

On 15 December 2021, Baroness Hallett was announced as the Chair of the Covid-19 Inquiry, and on 11 March 2022 she launched a consultation on the draft terms of reference for the Inquiry. The consultation is now closed, and Lady Hallett has now made her recommendations to the Prime Minister.

Please bookmark this page as we will be updating our Covid-19 Inquiry timeline with key developments as they happen.

Expert Public Inquiry Solicitors When it Matters Most

Kingsley Napley LLP has one of the most experienced and highly regarded public inquiries teams in the UK with over 25 years of experience representing individuals, public figures and organisations in many of the highest profile public inquires.

Led by Sophie Kemp, and with partners Stephen Parkinson, Adam Chapman, Emily Carter and Nick Wrightson, our team draws on a deep pool of expertise in public inquiries that extends across the firm and includes members of our regulatory, dispute resolution, clinical negligence and criminal litigation teams. This allows us to deploy a substantial and truly experienced public inquiry team.

our Specialist public inquiry experience

Our specialist public inquiry solicitors have played central roles representing core participants and key witnesses in many of the main public inquiries of recent years, including, for example:

Ongoing public inquiries:

  • The Brook House Inquiry
  • The Grenfell Tower Inquiry
  • The Post Office Horizon IT inquiry
  • The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
  • The Undercover Policing Inquiry

 

Past inquiries:

  • Lord Dyson’s inquiry into the BBC Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales (November 2020 - May 2021)
  • The Independent Inquiry into issues raised by Ian Paterson (December 2017 - February 2020)
  • The Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry (Northern Ireland) (January 2017 - March 2020)
  • The Iraq Inquiry: Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry to identify lessons to be learnt from the Iraq conflict (July 2009 - July 2016)
  • The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry into the role of monitoring, supervisory and regulatory bodies in the failings of this NHS Trust (June 2010 - February 2013)
  • Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press (July 2011 - November 2012)
  • The Baha Mousa Public Inquiry into the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq (August 2008 - September 2011)
  • Sir Michael Bichard’s inquiry into child protection procedures in Humberside Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary (December 2003 - June 2004)
  • Lord Butler’s inquiry into the intelligence which the British government had about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction (February 2004 - July 2004)
  • Lord Hutton’s inquiry investigating the death of Dr David Kelly (August 2003 - January 2004)

We also have extensive experience of other similar high profile politically sensitive work. We have advised witnesses before Parliamentary select committees and represented central participants in large-scale complex inquests including into the Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist attack, the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack and the London bombings of 7 July 2005.

 

 

HOW TO START PREPARING FOR THE COVID-19 INQUIRY

1. Get your documents in order

It is advisable to establish a document retention policy in order to facilitate the provision of any information to the Inquiry. Evidence requests can be extensive and made at short notice, and failure to comply with a statutory notice from the Inquiry to provide evidence is a criminal offence. As such, it is best to be prepared and have one’s house in order to ensure that information requests can be responded to smoothly and efficiently.

 

2. Start allocating institutional resources to deal with the Inquiry

Once the Inquiry gets underway it is likely to require a significant amount of institutional time and attention in order to manage the provision of information to the Inquiry, to provide the necessary support to any witnesses called to give evidence and to liaise with and provide instructions to lawyers. As such, it is good practice to pre-emptively consider who at an organisational level will have management responsibility for dealing with work arising from the Inquiry and what resources will be made available to assist with this.

 

3. Get your lawyers lined up

Core participants and key witnesses to the Inquiry will require legal representation. Baroness Hallett has also confirmed that there will be a public consultation on the terms of reference for the inquiry held in early 2022. This will be a good opportunity for prospective core participants to have their say on the scope of the future inquiry. With this in mind, it could also be a good opportunity to consider seeking legal advice.

 

click Here to read MORE ABOUT PUBLIC INQUIRIES AND SEE THE frequently asked questions 

They are easy to get hold of, very agile and speak plainly about what outcomes are likely and what are reasonable, which is really helpful in delicate situations."

Chambers UK 2022

Adam Chapman has public law experience that is second to none, after a long career with the Government Legal Department followed by a move into the private sector. He is trusted by clients and has excellent judgment.”

Legal 500 UK 2022

Sophie Kemp - absolutely outstanding in helping me think through some very complex issues; very patient and also clear and concise”

Legal 500 UK 2022

 

Timeline of COVID-19 Inquiry key events

Inquiry announced

12 May 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Covid-19 Inquiry, to be held in Spring 2022.

Chair appointed

15 December 2021

Baroness Hallett was announced as the Chair of the Covid-19 Inquiry.

Announcement of Lead Counsel

21 January 2022

Hugo Keith QC was appointed as Lead Counsel to the Public Inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 Inquiry website

15 February 2022

The Covid-19 inquiry website can be found below:

Website

Draft terms of reference published

10 March 2022

The Draft terms of reference was published

Consultation on the draft terms opened

11 March 2022

The consultation on the draft terms opened on this date

Consultation

Consultation on the draft terms closes

12 March 2022

The consultation on the draft terms closed on this date

Chair’s recommendations

12 May 2022

Inquiry Chair Baroness Hallett writes to Boris Johnson with her recommended terms of reference.

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