What we can do

The powers available to the Inquiry to carry out its task

The Chair of the Inquiry has a wide range of powers that she can use to help the Inquiry get its work done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

A key feature of the Chair’s power is the protocols which apply to how the Inquiry works. We will publish new protocols throughout the Inquiry as and when necessary.

We regularly update our protocols to make sure they are fit for purpose. A version number is shown at the bottom left of each page of a protocol. Our protocols can’t cover everything that might happen during the Inquiry. Where something unexpected or different happens, the Chair will decide how to proceed.

The Chair has the power to require people or organisations to give evidence or produce records and other documents. Giving evidence could be at a public hearing or in a written witness statement. If the person fails to do what is required it may be a criminal offence.

The Chair can issue instructions, called “directions” and “orders” about how the Inquiry should operate. For example, an order might set a deadline by which something must be done, such as producing a document to the Inquiry.

If you fail to do what is required by a direction or order, the Chair can refer your failure to the Court of Session. That Court will decide what action to take against you.

The Chair decides who should be a core participant to the Inquiry. A core participant is expected to have a significant role in the Inquiry. It could be a person, group, or organisation . For more information on what being a core participant means and how to apply see Core participant - protocol and application form.

The Chair can agree to pay a person’s legal fees. However, you may not need legal representation to be involved with the Inquiry. For information on legal representation see our factsheet on legal representation.

If you decide you want to instruct a lawyer, and you can’t afford it, we may be able to help you with the cost. For more information and how to apply see Cost of legal representation - Protocol and form.

The Chair can agree to pay your expenses or earnings lost in relation to giving evidence to the Inquiry or handing over documents. For more information and how to apply see Expenses - Protocol and application form and Compensation for loss of time - Protocol and application form.

The Chair decides what evidence should be kept private. This can mean deciding that some information must not be shared, published or disclosed by anyone. For more information on this see Anonymity and other restriction orders - Protocol and application form.

The Chair has made what is called a “restriction order” about keeping private the names of people who tell us they were abused (known as "applicants"). Lady Smith has made a further order protecting the identities of family members of applicants and the family members of people who are now deceased but who were, or could have been, applicants. You will find links to these orders at the foot of this page. This is a complicated and sensitive area so you are encouraged to read the orders carefully and the protocol on Anonymity and other restriction orders to fully understand your position.

The Chair’s power to make orders can also be used to direct that evidence at a public hearing will be heard in private, in the presence of key people only. She can make arrangements so that a witness’ identity is kept private.