Covid-19 Inquiry – Update on timetable
As the Inquiry continues to progress its work, we provide an update on the current status of Core Participant applications and what is known so far in relation to the hearing timetable.
Following the closure, in December 2022, of the application process to become a Core Participant (CP) in the latest module of the Inquiry, a list of CPs for Module 3 has now been published on the Inquiry's website. This takes the total number of CPs in the Inquiry to over 70 across those investigations which are currently open, noting that some entities falling within this number have been designated CPs for more than one module. This is especially the case for governmental bodies and groups representing bereaved families.
For further information on the Modules open and their scope, please see our previous updates here and here.
During February and into March 2023, the Inquiry continues to move forward with second Preliminary Hearings taking place in Modules 1, 2, 2A, 2B and 2C and the first Preliminary Hearing in Module 3.
At the Preliminary Hearing for Module 3 on 28 February 2023, Counsel to the Inquiry announced that a second Preliminary Hearing in relation to Module 3 is to be held later in 2023.
Oral evidence hearings
Oral evidence hearings for Modules 1 and 2 are scheduled to take place in Summer 2023. It is likely that an update on the timetable for the oral evidence hearings in Modules 2A, 2B and 2C will be provided at the respective second Preliminary Hearings scheduled to take place on 21 March, 29 March and 29 March 2023.
The oral evidence hearings for Module 3 are to take place on dates to be announced in 2024.
Next phases of the Inquiry
Also at the Preliminary Hearing for Module 3, Counsel to the Inquiry confirmed that further modules are to be announced, including relating to vaccines, therapeutics and anti-viral treatment, the care sector, government procurement and PPE, testing and tracing, the government's business and financial responses, health inequalities and the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and particular groups such as the elderly, the disabled, the poor and minorities, education, children and young persons and other public services, including frontline delivery by key workers.
In light of the Inquiry's Terms of Reference, we also expect that a dedicated module may be opened in relation to the effect of the pandemic on some or all of the following sectors: hospitality, retail, sport and leisure and travel and tourism.
Counsel to the Inquiry confirmed that the next phase of the Inquiry relating to further modules is to be announced in early Summer of this year. There is speculation that Module 4 may relate to the care sector given it would follow on naturally from healthcare.
If your organisation has experience of any of the issues mentioned above or falls within one of the above-mentioned sectors, you may be asked to become a CP or alternatively choose to apply to become one (further information on becoming a CP can be located on our website here. There is also a possibility you (or your staff) may be requested to submit evidence to the Inquiry or you may wish to submit evidence voluntarily.
In these circumstances, you may wish to consider taking steps now to collate and retain data and documentation which might be relevant, including recording staff experiences. Please do contact us should you require any advice in this area.
We will continue to monitor the progress of the Inquiry and to provide regular updates.