Royal commissions commenced in British Columbia in 1872, under the authority of the Public Inquiries Act. Chaired by one or more highly-respected persons (usually retired judges), royal commissions are legally autonomous from government.
There are generally two types of royal commissions: policy commissions struck to investigate matters of great societal importance; or investigative commissions set up to investigate individual or institutional misconduct. The results are usually published in large reports detailing the commissions’ findings and recommendations for legislative and policy changes.
In 1979 the former Public Inquiries Act and Ministerial Inquiries Act were consolidated into the Inquiry Act. On June 21, 2007, the British Columbia Legislature passed a new Public Inquiry Act (S.B.C. 2007, c. 9) with revised parameters for conducting royal commissions in British Columbia.