vgso.vic.gov.au

Royal Commissions & Inquiries

The VGSO specialises in Royal Commissions and Inquiries and has a dedicated team working to assist departments and agencies with Commissions and Inquiries of all types. This includes Royal Commissions, Boards of Inquiry, statutory and integrity investigations, internal reviews and consultations.

Our team are ready to assist your department or agency at any stage of the inquiry process, including by:

  • developing your strategic plan for approaching the inquiry body, including identifying, managing and mitigating risk
  • identifying, reviewing and producing documents, and managing relationships with staff and solicitors from the inquiry body
  • providing advice regarding obligations to produce or withhold documents, including in relation to privileges, immunities and risks
  • managing complex Government stakeholder environments and decision making processes
  • supporting and assisting witnesses to prepare and present written and oral evidence
  • preparing and presenting written and oral submissions
  • briefing, supporting and assisting Counsel, including where appropriate, Crown Counsel and the Solicitor General
  • advising and acting in litigation commenced on the basis of facts and circumstances identified by an inquiry or investigation
  • advising the State on arrangements for establishing a Royal Commission or Inquiry
  • Our dedicated document review team specialises in large-scale, time-sensitive and high-risk document production for the State, its departments and agencies.

    We provide succinct, expert advice on your obligations, available claims and next steps. Our advices are pragmatic, drafted in plain-English and purpose-built for Government and public sector briefings.

    We understand the time and stress involved in document production. Our team can relieve your department or agency of this administrative burden, and streamline passage through your approval pathways.

  • Royal Commissions and Inquiries almost always require the production of highly confidential information from departments and agencies.

    We specialise in the laws applying to such information, including:

    • Relevance
    • Public interest immunity
    • Parliamentary privilege
    • Executive privilege
    • Legal professional privilege
    • Privilege against self-incrimination
    • Statutory secrecy provisions
    • Personal information

    We understand Government approval pathways, and work with your department or agency to deliver pragmatic, low-risk outcomes while fostering positive relationships with the inquiry body.

  • We understand the Victorian Government stakeholder environment.  We are part of the Victorian public sector, and have represented Victorian government departments, agencies and Ministers for over 150 years.

    We understand each department and agency is unique, with its own policies and priorities. We are here to listen and understand how those policies and priorities fit within your inquiry response.

    Our staff have first-hand experience briefing departmental Executives, Ministers and Cabinet. We understand the importance and pressures involved in the briefing process, and are here to help by providing your department or agency with timely, practical and expert legal advice.

  • Providing evidence to an inquiry body can be a daunting experience.

    We can help your department or agency manage this stress by preparing your people to give the best evidence they can give.

    We can assist your department or agency at any stage of the evidence process, from requests for statements to appearances at hearings. Our services include:

    • an initiation meeting to discuss processes, timelines, roles and responsibilities
    • witness conferences to discuss the general approach to giving oral evidence
    • reviewing and assisting in the preparation of statements
    • monitoring and advising on other evidence given before the inquiry body
    • discussing potential issues and legal risks
    • identifying opportunities for advocacy
    • working with the inquiry body to provide your department or agency with the greatest possible certainty prior to a hearing
  • Royal Commissions and Inquiries often present an opportunity for advocacy. Usually, this will be through submissions, which allow parties to respond to Terms of Reference and outline visions for reform.

    This can form a vital part of the inquiry process. Often, departments and agencies are the best-equipped organisations in the country to assist an inquiry body with its policy reform agenda.

    We can help your department or agency marshal its subject-matter expertise, produce compelling advocacy and submissions, and deliver optimal policy results.

  • Royal Commissions and Inquiries often present high levels of risk for departments and agencies participating in them.

    We can help your department or agency manage its legal risk through a range of service offerings.

    We monitor evidence given before inquiry bodies, and advise on risks as they arise.

    We advise on the nature and magnitude of legal risks, and solutions for dealing with them. We also advise on strategic, reputational and policy risks.

    Our purpose is to identify risks when they arise and, wherever possible, provide solutions to prevent them from eventuating or minimise their impact.

    We offer this service during inquiries through daily updates and executive briefings. We also offer this service in connection with Interim and Final Reports to assist your office in identifying legal risks and help with strategic planning.

  • We are a multi-disciplinary organisation with expertise in public law and litigation.

    Our public law expertise is particularly important during Royal Commissions and Inquiries, where public law and constitutional issues often arise.

    Our approach of early issue identification, project management and positive engagement with Solicitors Assisting means we almost never have to rely upon our litigation expertise during a Royal Commission or Inquiry. However, if the need arises, we are highly experienced in managing litigation of State significance and conducting public interest immunity applications in Court.

  • We act on behalf of the State of Victoria in relation to the establishment of Royal Commissions and Inquires. Our services include providing establishment advice, briefing Counsel on draft terms of reference and preparing Victoria's Letters Patent.

Reviewed 19 May 2021

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