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Parliamentary and public inquiries invite high levels of media attention and stakeholder scrutiny, and can present significant legal and reputational risk for participants. Requests and summons to appear before or give evidence to any of the UK Parliament’s select committees, or public inquiries, can occur with very short notice. Appearing before one, either as a witness or core participant, can be intense and requires experienced legal support from a team that will prepare participants for the rigors of questioning in a public forum whilst also protecting client interests.

Our team has advised individuals, companies, and public bodies from a wide variety of sectors on comprehensive strategies to respond to requests for information, prepare evidence and responses, protect their reputations, and engage with the media and other stakeholders throughout the process, including following the publication of reports and findings.

Covington’s multi-disciplinary team draws on experienced lawyers from across our Dispute Resolution, Corporate, and Regulatory Practice Groups who have deep substantive expertise. In addition, we stand out in the market for our dedicated public policy team of former ministers, ambassadors, diplomats, and civil servants, who turn their experience in politics and policy into practical advice and insights into the process.

Where parliamentary and public inquiries subsequently lead to litigation, or to investigations by law enforcement authorities or regulators, our team is on hand to advise on the those matters—whether civil litigation, criminal prosecutions, or regulatory interventions.

Our team’s weight of experience in the public sector strengthens our capability to advise clients on the processes, language, and nuances that clients might face when interacting with government departments, ministers, parliamentarians, and the civil service.

More broadly, our work with industry bodies, public bodies, regulatory agencies, lobby and campaign groups, and public relations firms means that we are well placed to advise clients on the broader media and reputational risks associated with parliamentary and public inquiries. Successful participation in such inquiries requires an understanding beyond legal and regulatory risks alone: it also requires a sophisticated appreciation of how inquiries can be used to generate press attention, and lead to other strategic and policy risks.