Select Committees

Our team is experienced and held in high regard for our representation of senior professionals, public figures and major corporations before Parliamentary Select Committees.  We are widely praised for our capabilities in 'sensitive, high-profile, politically inflected work'.

The main role of Parliamentary Select Committees is to hold government to account on behalf of Parliament, and to scrutinise government activity, through the launch of inquiries.  Increasingly in recent years, Select Committees have extended their remit to inquire into the activities of companies and organisations where these have a significant impact on the public.  Recent examples are the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s examination of the horsemeat scandal and the Culture Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the future of FIFA.

How we work with you

Major inquiries are high profile and take place in the full glare of the media. Giving evidence before a committee can therefore be an intimidating experience, whether you are a senior professional, public official, major corporation or representing a public sector body.

We know that you will also have wider interests at stake, be they reputational, professional, commercial or financial, and we carefully help steer you through the preparation for questioning by MPs, mindful of your broader concerns.  

An inquiry is formally launched by a notice outlining the main inquiry themes or terms of reference. The Committee decides whom it wishes to call to answer questions orally, and it may also call for written evidence to be submitted. Questioning takes place during oral evidence sessions, usually in public, with live media coverage.

It is important for witnesses and interested parties to bear in mind that because chairs and members are now elected, Select Committees are growing in standing, acting with greater conviction and renewed authority. Their increase in profile and self-confidence is recognised to stem from the fact that Committees see their activities as helping to restore the damaged reputation of the Commons.

Select Committee processes are not like those of courts or tribunals.  In particular, there is no obligation to disclose lines of questioning in advance, or to make disclosure of documents that will be put to witnesses.  MP’s have no training in interrogation, and can use oral sessions as an opportunity to pursue their own personal political agendas.  Oral evidence sessions can therefore be unpredictable and challenging.  Committee clerks are usually very helpful, but they will be the first to point out the limits of the assistance that they can provide. 

For these reasons, it is essential that legal advisers to witnesses have Parliamentary experience, if they are to provide the best advice possible.  Our team has that experience.  Our understanding of the parliamentary environment and inquiry process means that you can be confident that your interests are taken care of from the moment you instruct us, from communicating with the Clerk to the Committee or the Chair, helping you to gather documentary evidence and prepare for questioning, to attending oral evidence sessions with you, and where necessary taking care of media inquiries. We also understand that it is essential that we have complete insight into your situation from the outset, and we will work very closely with you from the moment the inquiry is launched, through its duration, and afterwards.

 

The team is led by Stephen Parkinson, who has a wealth of experience acting for public figures before Select Committees, both in Government (where he was Deputy Head of the Attorney General’s Office), and since joining Kingsley Napley.  In recent years he has advised witnesses in Select Committee Inquiries into phone hacking, banking standards, food contamination and FIFA.  He is supported by partners Adam Chapmen, Sophie Kemp and Emily Carter, all of whom have significant experience of acting for witnesses facing major investigations

what directories have said about us

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

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

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

 

Latest blogs & news

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Safeguarding - 5 golden principles for school leaders

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A review of the SRA's Upholding Professional Standards Report 2018/19

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Government Launches Public Consultation on Reforms to Judicial Review

On 18 March 2021 the government published the Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL) and began a public consultation on reforms to judicial review. This blog provides some initial thoughts on these important developments. For background on the IRAL see our introductory blog here.

Coaching, Teaching and Support Work in Lockdown: Safeguarding and Data Protection considerations when working with children online

The COVID-19 crisis has forced sports clubs, schools, universities and charities to rapidly change their approaches to coaching, teaching and support work. The regulations on social distancing have forced organisations to innovate; services which had previously been offered mostly or wholly in person were rapidly shifted online during “lockdown 1” and will return online at least for the duration of “lockdown 3”.  If the vaccine rollout has the desired effect there will no doubt be some return to “traditional” methods, but it seems very unlikely that the changes brought about by the pandemic will be completely reversed.  In this blog, Claire Parry from Kingsley Napley’s Regulatory team and Fred Allen from the Public Law team look at the challenges organisations face engaging with children online.

Supreme Court rules that Nigerian communities can have their case against Shell heard in the English courts

This morning (12 February 2021) the UK Supreme Court handed down judgment in Okpabi & others v Royal Dutch Shell (“Okpabi”), a case concerning mass oil pollution in the Niger Delta. Judgment is in favour of the claimants, communities representing over 40,000 affected citizens of Nigeria, whose claim against oil conglomerate Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary can now be heard in the English courts.

Business and Human Rights Legislation and the Enforcement Question - A report by Kingsley Napley and Dr Rachel Chambers

Globally, a trend is taking shape towards legislation that asks more from businesses than the reporting obligations of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, in the area of business and human rights.

Regulation and Uptake of the COVID-19 Vaccine

The government has now approved the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The reason they have been able to do this so quickly is because they have taken advantage of the temporary authorisation regime laid out by the Human Medicine Regulations of 2012 and 2020. The 2012 Regulations were updated in 2020 specifically to facilitate the smooth rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the public consultation preceding the introduction of these updated regulations, several respondents raised concerns regarding unlicensed vaccines and immunity from civil liability. In practice, very little is known about these regulations and their application. This article seeks to shed some light on the temporary authorisation regime and suggest a means of alleviating concerns in the context of “vaccine hesitancy”.

Would the Constitution survive a No-Deal Brexit? The Internal Market Bill and its legal controversies

The Internal Market Bill (the “Bill”) has caused a dramatic fallout at home and abroad. It has faced massive defeats in the House of Lords over the month on November. It was the reported reason behind the UK’s most senior legal civil servant announcing his departure from the Government Legal Service.

Brexit and ‘Physical Presence’ Requirements for Irish professionals resident in the UK

As the end of the Brexit transition period draws near, complexities associated with navigating cross-border regulatory regimes have been increasingly brought to the fore. The Law Society of Ireland’s announcement last week, confirming a ‘physical presence’ requirement for solicitors intending to practise in Ireland, has highlighted wider post-Brexit issues surrounding residency requirements and recognition of qualifications for regulated professionals on the British/Irish border.

Parliamentary scrutiny in the time of Coronavirus

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ICO enforcement action – key considerations for charities in the GDPR era

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Striking a balance or tipping the scales? The Independent Review of Administrative Law and the possible reform of Judicial Review

On 31 July 2020 the Government launched an Independent Review of Administrative Law (‘the Review’). The panel of lawyers and academics, chaired by former Minister of State for Civil Justice Lord Edward Faulks QC (‘the Panel’), has been tasked with examining the potential need for reform of Judicial Review and to ‘consider whether the right balance is being struck between the rights of citizens to challenge executive decisions and the need for effective and efficient government.’

Office for Students refusal to register higher education provider unlawful due to failure to delegate and ‘secret policy’

The Bloomsbury Institute was fighting to survive financially after the Office for Students refused its application for registration. It brought a judicial review challenge which revealed that an unpublished policy had been followed. The policy had been formulated by an official who did not have the power to make the relevant decisions.

International Court of Justice and UN General Assembly do not alter the outcome of the Chagos Islands challenge

In a February 2019 Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice stated that, under international law, the decolonisation of Mauritius by the UK has never been lawfully completed and the UK must therefore “end its administration” of the Chagos islands.

Voter ID laws and the way courts interpret legislation

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The inquest process during COVID-19 restrictions

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The future public inquiry into COVID-19

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COVID-19 and contact tracing apps: A test of public confidence in data privacy?

Dominic Raab announced last week that the current UK lockdown would last for at least another three weeks. These restrictions are unlikely to be relaxed until a large scale plan is in place to track and restrict the spread of the virus. Part of this plan will involve the use of the NHS “contact tracing” app, which we have been told is in an advanced stage of development.

Expenses and Exemptions: Looking at the case of George Greenwood v Information Commissioner (2020)

The recent case of George Greenwood v Information Commissioner (2020) (“Greenwood”) gives useful guidance on the Information Tribunal’s approach when applying one of the s.40(2) exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “FOIA”). When relying on this exemption, public authorities sometimes face the thorny issue of balancing the privacy considerations of third party personal data against principles that militate in favour of disclosing the information. The judgment makes clear that, when considering this balance, the scales are weighed quite significantly towards the privacy rights of third party data subjects.

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