If you have a complaint
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the inquest or the conduct of the coroner you may wish to seek legal advice to lodge a complaint to the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC). The complaint is treated completely separately from the inquest and can take several months to be dealt with.
It is possible that the cause of death could result in civil proceedings and a claim for damages being made. The Inquest can be very helpful in exploring evidence and the circumstances of the death which may then give rise to a separate civil claim.
Stephensons strongly advise you seek legal representation as soon as possible so that your solicitor can be involved in the inquest preparation and ask relevant questions. This provides the best chance of collecting all the information necessary to make a civil claim.
In the case of another person or people being involved in the cause of the death, the criminal case needs to be resolved before the inquest can take place. Usually if someone is convicted of murder during a trial the coroner’s verdict will be unlawful killing and is compatible with the results of the criminal trial.
If no trial takes place and there is not an arrest or charges against anyone for an unlawful killing then an inquest will be opened.
What happens at an inquest?
At the inquest the witnesses will either be asked to attend or will have their statements read out. After the evidence has been given there may be further questions by legal representatives or the family could be asked to provide additional background about the deceased. An inquest takes place in an open court which means in high profile cases the press and media are able to attend.
At the end of the inquest the coroner (or jury) may use one of the short-form conclusions which include:
- Natural causes
- Accident or misadventure
- Alcohol or drug related
- Industrial disease
- Lawful or unlawful killing
- Open verdict
- Road traffic collision
Alternatively they may provide a short narrative conclusion.
Do I need legal representation?
In cases where there are controversial issues and family members have concerns about the cause of death it is important to seek legal advice. Quite often other parties such as hospitals or businesses will have legal representation which can make the process very daunting if you are alone.
Stephensons’ team of inquest solicitors can represent the family, address the coroner on legal matters and submit the relevant paper work. We will also support the families by obtaining medical reports or independent expert advice. Stephensons have extensive knowledge of the inquest process and are practised in working with coroner’s courts and professionals in a range of circumstances. Stephensons can also represent you in court
What happens after the inquest?
When the inquest has concluded, you will be able to get the death certificate and register the death.
A report will be published by the coroner if a risk to others is identified. If there is a chance that further deaths could occur in similar circumstances the coroner has a duty to file a preventing future deaths report from regulation 28 of the Coroners (Inquests) Regulations 2013.
The report is shared with any interested parties who are then required to take action to prevent future risks. They have 56 days to reply, stating how they plan to take action. A copy of this report will be sent to the family and a copy posted on the chief coroner’s website.
If you require advice and representation in relation to an inquest please call our specialist team on 01616 966 229 or fill in our online enquiry form and our team will get back to you as soon as possible.