No Win, No Fee.
No Win, No Fee.
An inquest will be opened soon after the death. This allows the death to be recorded, the deceased to be identified and the Coroner to give authorisation for a burial or cremation to take place as soon as possible.
After the inquest has been opened, it may be adjourned (postponed) until after any other investigations have been completed.
In some cases, the Coroner may hold one or more additional hearings before an inquest begins, known as Pre-Inquest Review Hearings. These allow the extent of the inquest to be considered to include the evidence that is to be heard and whether that evidence is to be given orally or in writing.
During an inquest, witnesses chosen by the Coroner will give evidence. The Coroner usually asks the witness to summarise events in their own words before asking them questions to clarify any points.
When evidence is given to the coroner by a witness, any person who is considered by the coroner to have a ‘proper interest’ is able to ask questions of the witnesses. Somebody who a coroner may consider has a ‘proper interest’ will include the following:
The Coroner will decide who is given proper interest status.
Relatives – Relatives of the deceased can attend an inquest and are able to ask the witnesses questions. However, they are only able to ask questions relating to the medical cause and circumstances of the death.
It is also possible for a relative of the deceased to be represented by a lawyer. In practice you should bear in mind the stress and emotional toll of the hearing. Also, a lawyer will appreciate the line of questioning that the Coroner might disallow and will be able to make a submission to the Coroner on the law and the “conclusion” at the end of the inquest.
When a jury is needed – Most inquests are carried out by the Coroner alone. However, in some circumstances, the Coroner will call a jury to decide the verdict.
For example, a jury will be required if the death occurred in prison or in police custody, or if the death was the result of an accident at work.
The Coroner can also call a jury at their own discretion.
In consequence of the limited nature of the inquest, its outcome does not dictate whether or not there can be subsequent civil proceedings for damages. However, the evidence given at the inquest may be very important and may form the basis of a subsequent civil trial. The inquest will probably be the only opportunity that the Deceased’s family will have to ask questions of the witnesses and to get answers about the circumstances leading to the death. It is therefore a very important opportunity.
If you, a family member or someone you know requires advice on a forthcoming inquest then please contact a member of our team.