Covid-19 Inquiry: start of Preliminary Hearings

The Covid-19 Inquiry is now fully underway, with the provisional scope of the first two Modules having been announced, and the first Preliminary Hearings for Module 1 to commence on 4 October 2022 (available for livestream through the Inquiry's YouTube account or in person at the Inquiry's hearing centre in London).

Module 1 will consider the extent to which the risk of a Coronavirus pandemic was properly identified and whether the UK was ready for one. It will look at the UK’s preparedness for civil emergencies, including resourcing, risk management and pandemic readiness, and will scrutinise government decision-making, identifying lessons from earlier incidents, simulations and international comparisons.

In a recent statement, the Inquiry's Chair confirmed she would update Core Participants on the status of their applications. Aside from devolved administrations, local authorities and other arms of the government, we expect private sector bodies involved in risk management and civil emergency planning to be considered for Core Participant status. These bodies will likely participate in substantive hearings which are scheduled to follow in Spring 2023.

Module 2 will be of particular interest to organisations, as it will examine the political and administrative decision-making of the UK and devolved governments. Any organisations which provided information to the UK and devolved governments about Covid-19 to enable their decision making may wish to give evidence or apply to become a Core Participant, particularly as those governments relied on many and varied sources of information including data and analysis from universities and commercial organisations. Public hearings for Module 2 are expected to begin in Summer 2023.

Behind the scheduled hearings is the prospect of interim recommendations which may have a profound effect on prospective litigation and knock-on effects for a broad variety of organisations, including liabilities for insureds and insurers. We have seen from the Infected Blood Inquiry how far-reaching recommendations can be, where considerable liabilities have been established in relatively short order. Engagement at these early stages may pay dividends as the Inquiry progresses.

Keep up to date with next steps and key implications for organisations through Shoosmiths' Covid-19 Inquiry resources portal.


This information is for general information 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. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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