Abstract. This work is concerned with the development of inverse-type inequalities for piecewise polynomial functions and, in particular, functions belonging to hp-finite element spaces. The cases of positive and negative Sobolev norms are considered for both continuous and discontinuous finite element functions. The inequalities are explicit both in the local polynomial degree and the local mesh-size. The assumptions on the hp-finite element spaces are very weak, allowing anisotropic (shape-irregular) elements and varying polynomial degree across elements. Finally, the new inverse-type inequalities are used to derive bounds for the condition number of symmetric stiffness matrices of hp-boundary element method discretisations of integral equations, with element-wise discontinuous basis functions constructed via scaled tensor products of Legendre polynomials
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