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Public inquiries investigate issues of serious public concern. They are often set up in response to major events and their purpose is to understand facts around what happened, the lessons that can be learned and any recommendations for the future.
These independent investigations that are initiated and funded by government have addressed topics such as the outbreak of disease, decision-making that has resulted in war and the mismanagement of pension funds.
Recently we have seen inquiries into Child Sexual Abuse as well as current inquiries, including: the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry and the Manchester Arena Inquiry.
To put the costs of these inquiries into perspective, back in 2017 Institute for Government reported that £639 million had been spent on public inquiries over the last 30 years. Additionally, in August 2022, The Guardian shared news that the UK Covid-19 Inquiry bill was already at £85 million.
The UK public inquiry market is currently thriving with significant major events being investigated, and those working within public inquiries can get a real sense of satisfaction from knowing that their work could be impactful for years to come.
An inquiry, that has now closed, was the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse which helped to shape recommendations to better protect children in the future.
This inquiry published its final report in October 2022, therefore the statistics for this particular investigation are some of the most up-to-date.
Throughout this inquiry, there were:
Here are some of the potential responsibilities Public Inquiry Lawyers have, this will be dependent on many things including the government body, the grade being worked at and the inquiry itself:
Here at Sellick Partnership, we are always looking to network with those interested in a career in public inquiry law and have an on-going requirement to speak to prospective candidates for roles at all levels.
I have had recent success when it comes to placing legal professionals from private practice backgrounds into public inquiry law, which is a testament to the unique work involved, ultimately supporting our legal system and government.
One of my candidates, who made the move from private practice to public inquiries, recently told me:
"I had worked on an inquiry in local government previously and it was one of the best jobs I’d ever had. So, when the job came up in central government, I knew it would be right for me.
I’m very much at the centre of the action on this public inquiry and the work is a fascinating insight into how government works. It’s fast paced and taxing on the brain, but the team are supportive, and everyone helps out.
Getting your head around the inner workings of government can be tough, but it’s worth it to work on such a high-profile case right at the heart of government."