Nicholas Griffin QC has co-authored an article in the Law Society Gazette with Peter Watkin Jones of Eversheds Solicitors on the Inquiries Act 2005. This is the piece of legislation that was brought in after the long and expensive Bloody Sunday Inquiry to underpin major inquiries. The aim of the legislation was to ensure future public inquiries were effective, fair and efficient – including financially and in terms of duration.
Public inquiries play an extremely important role. As we note in the article:
"The Public Administration Select Committee observed in its 2005 report that: ‘The tradition of the public inquiry has become a pivotal part of public life in Britain, and a major instrument of accountability’ ... More recently, but consistently, inquiries have been described as ‘a major feature of our unwritten constitution’...
The 2005 Act has been used in relation to recent important inquiries, such as the Leveson and Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiries, and it continues to be used for significant inquiries.
In the article, Peter and I consider whether, ten years on, the 2005 Act has served us well and also how it might be improved. We draw on our experience of inquiries going back over many years and consider House of Lords post-legislative scrutiny of the Act. We conclude that the Act has generally served us well but that the Inquiry Rules 2006, which contain further legislative detail, have in certain respects not been so successful and could usefully be amended.