Public inquiries: irreconcilable interests and the importance of managing expectations

Ireton, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-4106-1697, 2023. Public inquiries: irreconcilable interests and the importance of managing expectations. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. ISSN 0964-9069 (Forthcoming)

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Public inquiries address the most serious matters of public concern, including those affecting the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. There are ongoing, heated debates about how an inquiry should be set up and run and who primarily should be served by a public inquiry. However, these debates must be judged in the context of an accurate understanding of their role and function.
This article explores the source of misplaced expectations of the process, which can lead to frustration and distress for participants, delays to the process, and can seriously undermine participant and public confidence. It argues that, even where the public inquiry process is well understood, conflicting interests and expectations arise because of the different capacities in which people engage with a public inquiry, which are often difficult, or impossible, to resolve. The article examines evidence of how this has led to frequent challenges about the setting up and running of public inquiries and considers judicial decisions on the decision-making process.

Finally, it recognises there are limitations to the public inquiry process, which cannot always deliver the outcomes and resolution sought by participants and the public. It identifies the need for clearer articulation of the role and function of a public inquiry, for more effective management of expectations, and calls for further research on how to better address the needs and interests of participants within the constraints on the public inquiry process.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Creators: Ireton, E.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Date: 1 April 2023
ISSN: 0964-9069
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Law School
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 21 Apr 2023 08:19
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 08:19

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