You can find out much more about the inquest process, including information about funding, in our section, What is an inquest?
An inquest is an inquiry conducted by a Coroner into the circumstances surrounding a death. If someone you know has died suddenly and you want help, please refer to the information leaflet, When Sudden Death Occurs. If you want to find your local Coroner’s details please refer to the Coroners Society website where there is a search facility.
There are about 500,000 deaths each year in England and Wales of which there will be an inquest in about 5% of cases. The Coroner will try to establish who has died and how, when and where the death has occurred.
Most people think of any Court process as being a battle between two sides and most times they would be right. However, the inquest hearing is an exceptional sort of process where the intention is that the Coroner finds the answers to the questions above. The Coroner is not allowed to apportion blame. He or she can however, take up matters with relevant authorities to try to make sure that the facts are not repeated.
Our lawyers in London and Manchester are regularly instructed to represent bereaved families in cases of death following medical intervention. In medical cases it is usual that the Coroner will call medical, surgical and nursing staff to the inquest to give evidence. In a traffic case, a member of the police or ambulance service might be called as well as members of the public.
In a medical negligence case, if the deceased’s family have concerns about the care received we will do our best to explore these issues within the constraints of the limited purpose of the inquest.