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  • Within the advisory role of counsel assisting a public inquiry, there are occasions where a more proactive or ‘lateral thinking’ approach to the development of investigation strategies and programs may be beneficial.
  • The opportunity for counsel assisting to influence the direction that the inquiry should take may require an entirely different set of skills from those normally deployed in adversarial litigation.
  • Identifying broader organisational and systems factors contributing to events by means of root cause analysis may assist a commissioner or coroner to make positive practical recommendations to reduce the likelihood of similar events.

In Part One of this article (LSJ October 2015), it was noted that the terms of reference of a royal commission will identify the subject matter of an inquiry and may also identify the method by which issues are to be investigated. In a coronial proceeding the starting point will be the legislation under which an inquest or inquiry is to proceed. In either case, it may be left to the lawyer (counsel) assisting the inquiry to identify salient issues and develop investigative strategies and techniques within a working framework adopted by the commissioner(s) or coroner.

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