Inquiries Act 2005

The Inquiries Act 2005[1]

Long title An Act to make provision about the holding of inquiries.
Citation 2005 c 12
Territorial extent United Kingdom[2]
Royal assent 7 April 2005
Commencement 7 June 2005[3]
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Inquiries Act 2005 (c 12) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. According to the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Act "is designed to provide a framework under which future inquiries, set up by Ministers into events that have caused or have potential to cause public concern, can operate effectively to deliver valuable and practicable recommendations in reasonable time and at a reasonable cost." .


The Parliament of the United Kingdom's Joint Committee on Human Rights has voiced concerns about certain aspects of the Act , as have the Law Society of England and Wales.

Amnesty International has asked members of the British judiciary not to serve on any inquiry held under the Act, as they contend that "any inquiry would be controlled by the executive which is empowered to block public scrutiny of state actions."

The family of Pat Finucane, a solicitor killed by loyalist paramilitaries in Belfast in suspicious circumstances, have announced they will not be co-operating with a forthcoming inquiry into the events surrounding his death if it is held under the terms of the Act.

The Canadian Judge Peter Cory, who was commissioned by the British and Irish governments to investigate the possibility of state collusion in six high-profile murders, is also a critic. He recommended public inquiries into four of the killings, but has strongly condemned the legislation that quickly followed. In a letter read at a hearing of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Subcommittee while the legislation was pending, Cory stated:

it seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible. The Commissions would be working in an impossible situation. For example, the Minister, the actions of whose ministry was to be reviewed by the public inquiry would have the authority to thwart the efforts of the inquiry at every step. It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation. There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the inquiry. If the new Act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing. In fact, I cannot contemplate any self-respecting Canadian judge accepting an appointment to an inquiry constituted under the new proposed Act.

The chairman of the hearing, Representative Chris Smith, declared that "the bill pending before the British Parliament should be named the 'Public Inquiries Cover-up Bill.'"

Indeed, the Act repealed the entirety Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 which had allowed Parliament to vote on a resolution establishing a tribunal that had "all such powers, rights, and privileges as are vested in the High Court"[4] and placed the power solely under the control of a Minister.


  1. The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 53 of this Act.
  2. The Inquiries Act 2005, section 52
  3. The Inquiries Act 2005, section 51; the Inquiries Act 2005 (Commencement) Order 2005 (S.I. 2005/1432 (C. 62)), article 2
  4. The Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, section 1(1) (Revised text as at 8 November 1995 from

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