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What questions will a Coroner address in his or her investigation into a death?

The purpose of a Coroner’s Investigation is defined in the Coroners and Justice Act  to ascertain the following key questions:
  • Who the deceased was 
  • When the deceased died
  • Where the deceased died
  • How the deceased died

The most important question to the families of those who have lost a relative or loved one is almost always “how” they came to their death. 

A Coroner usually has a wide ranging discretion as to what his or her investigation will involve in answering the question of “how” someone died. The question of “how” a person came to their death can usually be interpreted simply as “by what means”. 

However, in certain circumstances, Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) will require a Coroner to undertake an enhanced investigation to examine the “broad circumstances” of how a person arrived at their death. 

The circumstances when Article 2 of the ECHR will require a Coroner to undertake an enhanced  investigation into a death are complex. However, very simply such an investigation will be required if a person has died in state detention, such as in prison or in a psychiatric hospital, and in circumstances where the state has arguably been implicated in the deceased’s death. 
Circumstances where the state could be considered to be implicated could be when a state body failed to provide adequate systems to prevent the death occurring and/or if a state body has been grossly negligent (to the extent to which it could be considered criminal). 

In such enhanced investigations, Coroners must ensure that the person’s next of kin are fully involved and that the investigation is effective and independent. 

Solicitors at Leigh Day have extensive experience in acting in such enhanced investigations, which are often referred to as “Article 2” Inquests.

For more information please contact Suzanne White on 020 7650 1200 at Leigh Day for information and support about inquests.

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