Concept

Royal commission

Summary
A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue in some monarchies. They have been held in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Malaysia, Mauritius and Saudi Arabia. A royal commission is similar in function to a commission of inquiry (or, less commonly, enquiry) found in other countries such as Ireland, South Africa, and Hong Kong. It has considerable powers, generally greater even than those of a judge but restricted to the terms of reference of the commission. These powers include subpoenaing witnesses, taking evidence under oath and requesting documents. The commission is created by the head of state (the sovereign, or their representative in the form of a governor-general or governor) on the advice of the government and formally appointed by letters patent. In practice—unlike lesser forms of inquiry—once a commission has started the government cannot stop it. Consequently, governments are usually very careful about framing
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