Commissions of Inquiry
We love appointing commissions of inquiry in the Republic. But that is not a bad thing, and nor is it new. The Commissions Act 19471 still operates to this day, over 60 years after its promulgation – in fact, commissions of inquiry are (apparently) a feature of English law, dating back to the 12th Century.2 No surprise, commissioners and their investigative teams have extensive powers.
- If you are summoned to give evidence, or to produce any book, document or object at a commission of inquiry, it is a crime:3
- (without sufficient cause) to fail to do so, unless the chairman of the commission excuses you;
- to fail to remain in attendance until the conclusion of the inquiry, or until excused by the chairman;
- to refuse to be sworn or make an affirmation about your evidence;
- to answer fully and satisfactorily any question lawfully put to you;
- to fail to produce any book, document or object in your possession or control required by the subpoena; and
- to give false evidence.
- Any person who wilfully interrupts the proceedings of a commission or who wilfully hinders or obstructs a commission in the performance of its functions commits an offence.4