COVID-19 Inquiry – Terms of Reference published

The Prime Minister has approved, and government has published the long-awaited final terms of reference for the COVID-19 Inquiry.

The inquiry, chaired by the Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE, is two-fold and will:

1. Examine the COVID-19 response and the impact of the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and produce a factual narrative.

2. Identify the lessons to be learned from the above, to inform preparations for future pandemics across the UK.

Outcome of the consultation

The consultation on the draft terms received over 20,000 responses from various groups of people and sectors.

As a result of the consultation, the terms of reference were amended to further include the impact the pandemic had on children and young people, the mental health and wellbeing of the UK population along with the collaboration between regional, devolved, and national government, and the voluntary and community sector.

The chair also recommended to government that possible inequalities should be at the forefront of the Inquiry so that the Inquiry is inclusive in its approach. While the terms of reference do not specifically mention disabled groups, the concerns about this came through very strongly in the consultation and the recommendation to consider any disparities, including but not limited to protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and Northern Ireland Act 1998, is a recommendation that has been accepted by the government.

Next steps

As of the 28June 2022, the inquiry is considered formally ‘set-up’.

The inquiry team will begin to request written evidence from government and other organisations with an expected hearing date in early 2023.

Given the extensive terms of reference, the inquiry team have a significant task ahead of them. 

The inquiry will be lengthy but will need to produce an outcome that is meaningful. The chair is conscious to seek to minimise duplication and will set out, publicly, how it intends to do this.

The pandemic has affected every pocket of society. The inquiry is the formal opportunity to explore (within the remit of the terms of reference) the impact the pandemic has had on so many affected groups, sectors, organisations and industry.

Now the terms of reference have been published, we expect to see organisations, which played a key role in events, apply for ‘core participant’ status. Being involved in the COVID-19 Inquiry gives a core participant the opportunity to have its experience/voice heard with a view to shaping or influencing any recommendations the Inquiry ultimately makes, which are likely to shape future government policies.

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 Inquiry please do contact us.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


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