The Chief Coroner has called for bereaved families to be given exceptional funding for Legal Representation in cases where the state has agreed to provide separate representation for one or more interested parties.

The Chief Coroner has said in a number of inquests, the family of the deceased is unable to obtain Legal Aid for representation at the Inquest, despite individuals or agencies of the state being funded for legal representation “as interested persons”.

Even worse, in most cases, one or more agencies of the state, such as Police, Prison Service or Ambulance Service may be separately represented.  Inquests are becoming more complex and contentious in the absence of legal representation for interested persons. It is very difficult for the deceased relatives to follow.

The Chief Coroner stated in some cases the Coroner has to give special assistance to the family which may give rise to the appearance of unfair and bias to others.  The Chief Coroner has recommended that the Lord Chancellor consider amending the exceptional funding guidance for inquests, providing funding for legal representation for the family where the state has agreed to provide separate representation for one or more interested persons.

It is a fundamental principle that the law should be a level playing field – at the moment it isn’t.

Take the recent inquest of the Hillsborough disaster.  Funding for the 96 families was only achieved through the full funding of their legal costs. 

On a separate note, at the moment we have inquests being held which involve deprivation of liberty safe guards (DoLS) even where the death is from natural causes.  The Chief Coroner called for the removal of the need for unnecessary inquests for those who die under state detention.  “The case load for all Coroners was substantially increased for no good purpose”, he says.

DoLS authorisations can be a family member having their liberty restricted in a care home or hospital, not just in a prison or detention unit.

Whilst the state resolves whether Legal Aid is available or not we at Ringrose Law are still able to assist on a private basis.

How can we help?

At Ringrose Law we have someone who could assist you in all of our offices at Boston, Spalding, Sleaford, Grantham, Newark and Lincoln. Just ask for our Coroner’s representative.


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