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Covid-19 Inquiries: Where are we now?


As at the 20 July the number of Covid-related deaths in the UK edges towards 200,000[1] and the total number of Covid cases recorded to date in the UK stood at 23.3 million. On the same date the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 stood at 17,019 with 175 being in ventilation beds. This is against a background of 93.1% of the population aged 12 or over having received at least one dose of the vaccine.[2] 

While the pandemic has not ended, the impact has been very much reduced and the restrictions in place have in turn been similarly reduced. In fact, Covid-19 is now a matter for public health guidance rather than statutory regulation and restriction in the overwhelming majority of cases.  The Health & Safety Executive no longer expects every business to consider Covid-19 in their Risk Assessments or to have specific measures in place. Employers may still choose to continue to cover it in their Risk Assessments but there is no obligation.

There is however a requirement to protect those who will come into contact with the virus due to their work activity and this unsurprisingly includes health and social care workers caring for infectious patients and in those cases, there must still be a Risk Assessment and controlled measures in place. 

Just as Covid-19 has moved on to be a public health matter the inquiries that have been mooted for some time are due to get underway. 

United Kingdom

The UK Government has set up an inquiry to be chaired by Baroness Hallett[3] under the following terms of reference: 

The inquiry will examine, consider and report on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, up to and including the inquiry’s formal setting up date. In doing so it will consider reserved and evolved matters across the United Kingdom as necessary, but will seek to minimise duplication of investigation, evidence gathering and reporting with any other public enquiry established by the dissolved administrations. 

The aims of the inquiry are to:

  1. Examine the Covid-19 response and the impact of the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, producing a factual narrative account.
    Identify the lessons to be learned, thereby to inform the UK’s preparations for future pandemics.
  2. The terms of reference were approved by the Prime Minister on 28 June at which point Baroness Hallett launched the inquiry and laid out a timetable with evidence hearing expected to begin in 2023.


Terms of reference for the inquiry in Scotland were published on 14 December 2021 and were subject to minor revision on 9 June 2022. The Chair is Lady Poole (a Court of Session Judge) with a public launch pencilled in for early summer 2022[5].

The aim of the inquiry is to:

Establish the facts and strategic response, along with the lessons learnt, from the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland. 

It is highly likely, despite the stated intentions at UK level, that there will be a significant overlap with Scotland regarding terms of reference. Despite the much earlier publication of terms of reference and intention to have an early summer public launch, further details and a timetable have yet to be released.


The First Minister Mr Mark Drakeford has not ruled out a Wales-only inquiry but to date has indicated he will be relying upon the Hallett inquiry to provide a proper Welsh dimension as promised by the Prime Minister. It must be noted however that Drakeford is under some significant pressure from the bereaved families and indeed the Conservatives in Wales for a Wales-only inquiry. 

Northern Ireland

There have been similar calls for a separate inquiry in Northern Ireland. This has been pressed for by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Older People who called for a separate inquiry into how the pandemic was managed in care homes. This however is unlikely to be progressed while the Stormont assembly remains suspended.


Our taskforce combines industry leaders in handling all elements of disease claims with regulatory experts versed in a range of inquiries. We will provide regular updates as the inquiries progress and can assist in all jurisdictions should you have any involvement in, or concerns over, the inquiries.


[1] HMG Corona virus data as at 20th July - deaths within 28 days of positive test 177,977, deaths with Covid-19 on the death certificate 198.552.
[2] Healthcare in the UK | Coronavirus in the UK (data.gov.uk)
[3] UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry (public-inquiry.uk)
[4] Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry (covid19inquiry.scot)
[5] https://covid19.public-inquiry.uk/

Peter Kenworthy

Peter Kenworthy
Head of Legacy

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