On 10 March 2022 the Prime Minister announced the draft terms of reference for the UK-wide COVID-19 Inquiry following a period of consultation with the devolved governments and the Inquiry's chair, Baroness Hallett.

The inquiry will investigate the preparations and the response to the pandemic in all four UK nations and will consider reserved and devolved matters. However, it will seek to minimise duplication with the any inquiry established by a devolved nation, including the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry.

What will be investigated?

The UK-wide Inquiry will investigate matters including:

  • preparedness for the pandemic;
  • intergovernmental decision-making;
  • shielding and the protection of the clinically vulnerable;
  • the use of lockdowns and other ‘non-pharmaceutical’ interventions such as social distancing and the use of face coverings;
  • restrictions on attending places of education;
  • the closure and reopening of the hospitality, retail, sport and leisure sectors and cultural institutions;
  • immigration and asylum;
  • travel and borders;
  • the response of the health and care sectors including the management in care homes and the impact of the pandemic on the provision of health care for non-COVID related conditions; and
  • the economic impact of the pandemic including the support packages provided by government.

The UK Government has also tasked the Inquiry with examining any disparities in the impact of the pandemic and the state's response, including those relating to protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 such as race and gender.

The full draft terms of reference can be viewed on the Inquiry's website.

Period covered by the Inquiry

While the Scottish Inquiry will investigate events occurring up until 31 December 2022, the UK-wide Inquiry will only investigate matters up to the date on which the Inquiry is formally set up, which has yet to be confirmed.

The terms of reference require to be confirmed before the Inquiry can be set up. In an open letter to the public Baroness Hallett has confirmed that the Inquiry will be ready to begin its investigations once this has happened.

The Inquiry will gather evidence throughout the rest of 2022 and hopes to begin its public hearings in 2023.

The Government has said that the Inquiry is to produce its reports, including any interim reports in a timely manner but has not set out a timescale for the Inquiry.

Next steps

There will now be a period of public engagement and consultation in relation to the terms of reference led by Baroness Hallet concluding on 7 April 2022, after which the terms of refence will be finalised.

Organisations that expect to be engaged with the Inquiry may wish to make representations in relation to the terms of reference.

For more information on participating in a public inquiry, please contact Christine O'Neill KC, Kirstyn Burke or your usual Brodies contact.


Kirstyn Burke

Senior Associate

Christine O'Neill KC

Chair & Partner