Holding a hearing
The phrase “public inquiry” obviously suggests that the proceedings will be held entirely in public but that is not necessarily so. There may be no oral evidence at all. If there is, parts of the evidence may be heard in private. The report may be delivered to the Minister who may choose to redact it or not to publish it at all. However, the expectation will normally be that a public inquiry will hear oral evidence in public and will deliver a report which is published in full and that any deviation from that model will need to be justified. There are a number of clear benefits of having an oral hearing in public but there are factors which may militate against that.
If the Panel and the inquiry team decide that there should be a hearing, they will need to consider:
- Appropriate procedures for calling evidence
- Appropriate procedures for funding representation for witnesses
- Practical aspects of running a tribunal