An Inquest is a formal public fact finding inquiry, conducted by a Coroner, designed to establish where, when and how someone died.
The purpose of the inquest is to discover the facts of the death. This means that the coroner (or jury) cannot find a person or organisation criminally responsible for the death. However if evidence is found that suggests someone may be to blame for the death the coroner can pass all the evidence gathered to the police or Crown Prosecution Service. As a result, an Inquest’s findings often shape the nature of any criminal investigation or subsequent prosecution. Every Inquest is, therefore, extremely important to the family of the deceased and also to any other interested party that might be involved, especially if there are subsequent criminal or civil proceedings.
An Inquest can also be a very important part of the process of holding people or organisations to account and ensuring, where appropriate, that steps are taken to prevent deaths in similar circumstances occurring again.
The law relating to inquests is complex. It can be overwhelming and confusing. Inquests are particularly distressing for those who have lost a loved one or who have been involved in a traumatic incident that has led to a death. We have a wealth of experience in assisting those affected by a death and will provide you with the professional support and advice you need to get through this difficult time.
We can liaise with all the relevant people or authorities on your behalf; this could include the Coroner’s office, the Prison Service, the Police, the Prison and Probation Ombudsman or the NHS and request that disclosure be provided prior to any hearing. Disclosure may include copies of any post mortem examination reports, expert reports, medical records and other documents that are relevant to the death.
We deal with a wide range of inquests including deaths in prisons, hospitals and care homes. We act for families and professionals such as midwives, care workers and Prison Officers.
Legal aid is not generally available for representation at the inquest, but can be provided in exceptional cases. Generally, you must qualify financially and your application must meet strict criteria for representation to be funded exceptionally. In the alternative, we may be able to agree a fixed fee for our advice, preparation for the inquest and legal representation during the proceedings.
To arrange a free initial consultation with a specialist inquest solicitor please contact our Jared McNally.