Increasingly, across all sectors, failings in services and scandals are met with calls for reviews and inquiries, and in some cases public inquires. Whilst inquiries cannot result in any civil or criminal liability, their findings can be extremely damaging for participants' reputations and sometimes pave the way for further legal proceedings.
It is therefore essential for any organisation involved in the subject matter of an inquiry or review to ensure it participates effectively. At the very least, organisations will wish to ensure the evidence they have to give to the inquiry is robust and their position is clear. In some circumstances, organisations may wish to become more actively involved in the proceedings, raising questions of other parties, and making submissions as to the findings and recommendations to be made.
We have considerable experience of supporting organisations giving evidence to reviews and acting as legal representatives for core participants in public inquires and are well-versed to help clients through the practical and legal issues which can arise in these proceedings, which are often conducted in the media spotlight.
The County Council has been pleased to work with Bevans on this very high profile matter. We feel that the Bevans team have brought in skilled resources in a timely manner and have dovetailed this resource well with the wider Council team, working collaboratively with us to meet challenging deadlines and showing a good understanding of the issues from a Local Authority perspective. Good relationships have been established with the Inquiry Team and a positive approach to working with counsel has also been a helpful aspect of the overall progress of the work.
Examples of our work include:
- Advice on whether to seek core participant status in a public inquiry
- Making opening submissions to public inquiries
- Undertaking large scale disclosure exercises
- Preparation of witness evidence
- Raising procedural challenges to inquiries
- Raising questions of other witnesses
- Supporting witnesses giving evidence
- Evidence Reviews and making closing submissions
- Representations in response to inquiry warning letters
- Advice on addressing recommendations
- Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry – we were the recognised legal representative for the Care Quality Commission in the Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry. This included preparation of extensive witness evidence; co-ordinating a large scale disclosure exercise of documentation held by CQC in relation to its own activities, and those of its predecessor; liaising with the Inquiry legal team in relation to further evidence requests and procedural issues; reviewing and advising on the evidence of all other parties; making opening and closing submissions; assisting the CQC in responding to warning letters and advising CQC in connection with the Inquiry final report.
- Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - we are the recognised legal representative for the Leicestershire County Council in the investigation into Institutional Responses to Allegations Concerning Lord Janner. The inquiry, which is one of largest Inquiries of its kind, is investigating whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales. Our work to date has involved a significant large-scale disclosure exercise; drafting witness statements required by the Inquiry which deal with both historic and current safeguarding policies and procedures; advising the Council in relation to submissions being made to the Inquiry and providing representation at some of the early preliminary hearings.