Inquiries into deaths: coroners investigations and inquests
The majority of deaths which occur in the UK can be registered by a medical practitioner without any further inquiry into the circumstances of death. In certain circumstances however, a death cannot be registered until a Coroner has completed an investigation into that death and reached a conclusion as to how the person died.
A Coroner’s investigation will sometimes include an Inquest, which is a hearing that in all but exceptional circumstances is held in a public court. At this hearing, the circumstances of death are examined by the Coroner and he or she will call relevant witnesses to give evidence about how the deceased died.
Certain individuals, including the deceased’s family, have a right to participate in Inquest proceedings and ask questions of the witnesses called to give evidence.
If you have lost relatives and are involved in Inquest proceedings we can help. Our solicitors have helped many families obtain answers about the circumstances of how their loved one died and helped to bring to bring to light light any failings which may have contributed to their death.
A Coroner's investigation is entirely separate from any civil or criminal proceedings which may arise out of a death and a Coroner is expressly prohibited from making findings which determine questions of civil or criminal liability. However, the evidence which a Coroner will obtain as part of his or her investigation, and the conclusions that are reached as to how the deceased came by their death, are frequently relevant to any civil proceedings which may arise from the circumstances of death, including claims arising out of personal injury, clinical negligence or human rights violations.
Lawyers at Leigh Day are able to provide advice to clients on both the Inquest touching on a death and any civil claim which might arise from it.
The system of Coroner’s Investigations and Inquests has recently undergone a process of reform with the implementation of the new Coroner’s and Justice Act in July 2013 and the introduction of new Rules and Regulations for Coroners.
In the minority of cases there is a form of public funding that might be available. Your financial circumstances will be taken into account and if you think that you might be eligible you should speak to your solicitor about this possibility.
For more information please contact Suzanne White on 020 7650 1200 at Leigh Day for information and support about inquests. INQUEST has produced The Inquest Handbook which you might find useful.