What is an inquest?
An inquest is a judicial inquiry in common law jurisdictions, particularly one held to determine the cause of a person’s death. Conducted by a judge, jury, or government official, an inquest may or may not require an autopsy carried out by a coroner or medical examiner.

What happens at an inquest?
A legal inquiry into a death is held when its cause is unknown, violent or ‘unnatural’. This ‘coroner’s inquest’ is held in public and the coroner determines the cause of death. He or she does not have to establish why the death occurred, but only who the deceased was, how, when and where death occurred.

How long does an inquest take?
It varies. Inquests can be held a few weeks or a few years after the death. The main inquest hearing should normally take place within six months or as soon as possible after the death has been reported to the coroner. If the situation is complicated it can take longer.

Can you have a funeral before an inquest?
The death cannot be registered until after the inquest, but the coroner can give you an interim death certificate to prove the person is dead. You can use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate. When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.

What do you wear to a coroner’s inquest?
Wear clothes that you are comfortable in. The coroner and legal representatives may be wearing formal gowns and possibly wigs. Witnesses may be dressed smartly or possibly in uniform (for example, if they are a paramedic or police officer).

Is there anything else I need to be aware of?
A recent inquest into a mother’s death found nine failings in her care, not all of these would have been found without the family spending thousands of pounds from their own pocket on a Lawyer.
For example, Mental Health Trusts can spend huge amounts on their own Lawyers when many families who have been failed are given nothing.

After a Trust or other failure leading to the death of a loved one most families have no right to Legal Aid at the Inquest and certainly no automatic right.

The Government says Inquests are non-adversarial so families don’t need legal representation. That is not the experience of families who can be faced by several different legal teams when they have none and at a time of grief .

Although a Coroner tries to be neutral, the question has to be asked, how can anyone be neutral after hearing several well thought out questions from one and nothing or poorly formed questions from another?

If you feel you are aggrieved by the current system, please do not hesitate to contact any of our specialists at any one of our offices at Lincoln, Boston, Sleaford, Spalding, Grantham and Newark.

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