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, 45 (3), pp. 212-233. ISSN 0964-9069

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Public inquiries address serious matters of public concern, including those affecting the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. There are ongoing, heated debates about how inquiries 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, leading to frustration and distress for participants and delays, which 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. It recognises 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 and more effective management of expectations.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Creators: Ireton, E.
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 13 August 2023
Volume: 45
Number: 3
ISSN: 0964-9069
Rights: © 2023 the author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Law School
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 21 Apr 2023 08:19
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 16:22

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