In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on 14 December 2021, John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister (link here) announced the appointment of a Scottish Judge, Lady Poole, as the chair of a Scotland-only COVID-19 public inquiry and the publication of terms of reference for this inquiry (link here). This inquiry is being established under the Inquiries Act 2005.
Though noting that “the emergence of the Omicron variant is a stark reminder to us all that this pandemic continues to evolve and challenge us”, Mr Swinney did not consider that the emergence of Omicron should “delay our efforts to learn from the past” but should rather be considered as underlining “the importance and urgency of learning lessons from what has gone before.”
On 24 August 2021 the First Minister of Scotland committed the Scottish Government to establish a judge-led, Scotland-only, independent public inquiry on COVID-19 by the end of this year. This marks a significant development in the Scottish Government’s position on COVID-19 inquiry matters. Previously, the First Minister had “broadly welcomed” the UK Prime Minister’s commitment to hold a UK-wide, or “four nations” inquiry, although she expected that to begin before the end of 2021 rather than spring 2022 as initially proposed by the Prime Minister.
On 3 November 2020, the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament continued its stage 1 consideration of the Liability for NHS Charges (Industrial Disease) (Scotland) Bill, taking evidence from: the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), the Forum of Scottish Claims Managers (FSCM), a Professor in occupational and environmental health and from a pursuer’s solicitor.
If enacted, the legislation would allow for the recovery by the state of charges incurred by the health service in treating pursuers with industrial diseases where they obtain compensation for the disease (but only when the cause of action arises after commencement).