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

Preparation for Public Inquiries - Webinar Summary

In light of the announcement that an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will begin in spring 2022, Kingsley Napley hosted a webinar last week on the theme of Preparing for Public Inquiries in conjunction with Blackstone Chambers and FTI Consulting. For anyone who missed this event, a recording is available here (LINK) and we have also prepared the summary below.  

What is Next for GDPR in the UK, is Change on the Horizon?

The General Data Protection Regulation (known to everyone as the GDPR) is probably the most famous piece of legislation to come from the EU. It was and is incredibly ambitious in its scope, and shapes the way we engage with organisations both online and in the real world. When the UK formally withdrew from the EU, GDPR became retained EU law and continued to apply as before. The government have recently announced that they want to reform data protection legislation, but substantial deregulation might be an unrealistic ambition.

Case Note – challenging the Court’s jurisdiction in judicial review proceedings: R (Girgis) v Joint Committee on Intercollegiate Examinations [2021] EWHC 2256 (Admin)

The Administrative Court of England & Wales has recently considered a challenge to its jurisdiction to hear a judicial review claim on the basis (asserted by the defendant) that the claim should be heard at the Court of Session in Scotland. As explained below, the challenge was unsuccessful, but the case is interesting not just because of the Court’s conclusion on the substantive issue but also because of His Honour Judge Simon’s approach to the “technical” (procedural) issues the case gave rise to.

New guidance encourages judicial review practitioners to be concise, succinct and prepared

Earlier this year, changes to Practice Direction 54A (covering judicial review) and 54B (covering urgent applications) came into effect. This blog will consider the impact that the changes have had on the procedure for judicial review, before turning to a recent example of the perils of failing to follow the rules.

Can you devise an effective ouster clause to exclude a category of decision making from judicial review?

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill contains a new ‘ouster clause’ designed to prevent judicial review of the Upper Tribunal’s decisions on certain applications for permission to appeal against decisions of the First-Tier Tribunal. This blog explores why drafting legislation to restrict judicial review is so difficult.

The UK Supreme Court has confirmed the principles for judicial review of policies

R (A) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] UKSC 37 and R (BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] UKSC 38

Two linked Supreme Court judgments provide a reminder to claimants that challenges to policies should focus on whether the policies authorise or approve violations of the law. The court acknowledges that policies are issued to promote practical objectives and the standards set for reviewing them must not be unduly demanding.

Case Note – costs of interested parties in judicial review proceedings: CPRE Kent v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government UK/SC 2019/0174

The Supreme Court has, unusually, recently heard, and now delivered judgment on, an appeal concerning costs in statutory appeal and judicial review cases.  It is unusual for costs issues to be considered significant enough to merit consideration by the Supreme Court and, not least given the outcome of the appeal – and of course it is easy to be wise after the event – it is something of a surprise that permission to appeal was granted in the first place.

Regulating working conditions: a ‘one stop shop’ approach to tackling modern slavery

To meet widespread concern about vulnerable workers and working conditions in industries including agriculture, fashion, food and waste disposal, last month (June 2021) the government set up a new watchdog to take over responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers.

Data Subject Access Requests: The Do’s and Don’ts for Charitable Organisations

A Data Subject Access Request, or DSAR, is any request made by an individual for their own personal data. While they are quick and easy for an individual to make, many long hours and significant resources from your organisation will be needed in order to properly respond.

Judicial Review Reform – waiting for the sting

Long awaited reforms to judicial review were revealed yesterday by Robert Buckland in his Judicial Review and Courts Bill. Thankfully the proposals to suspend quashing orders and limit their retrospective effect retain all-important judicial discretion and, at face value, are milder than feared. However, the decision to exclude the review of Upper Tribunal permission-to-appeal decisions (so called “Cart JRs”) is more troubling, marking the return of ouster clauses and possibly setting the groundwork for the removal of the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court in future legislation.

Safeguarding - 5 golden principles for school leaders

Over the past few weeks there has been a steady stream of disturbing stories alleging sexual harassment and sexual abuse of children attending a variety of schools across the country, not just incidents involving children and adults but in many cases peer-on-peer abuse.

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

The SRA introduced a new assessment and early resolution process focusing on upfront engagement and delivering, where possible, earlier outcomes on concerns reported to it. Additionally, in February 2019, the SRA introduced a revised Enforcement Strategy, setting out its approach to enforcement and the factors it will take into account when considering whether regulatory action is needed. 

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

As a new nationwide lockdown comes into effect, Stephen Parkinson and Charlie Roe from our Public Law team, consider the often limited role of Parliament in scrutinising restrictive regulations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

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