Do you need to instruct a solicitor for an inquest?

It is possible for the family of the deceased to participate in an inquest hearing without a solicitor acting on their behalf. However, specialist legal representation can help to ensure that both the right conclusion is reached by the coroner and you receive invaluable support to guide you through the process.

What is involved in preparing for an inquest?

An inquest is an investigation into the circumstances of someone’s death.

Once formally opened by the coroner, it could be a number of months or even years until the actual inquest hearing itself takes place. During the inquest process witnesses may be called to give evidence and, ultimately, the conclusion (previously known as the ‘verdict’) will be determined.

Whilst inquests do vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case, and the coroner dealing with the inquiry, a typical inquest investigation will involve the following:

  • making submissions as to the arrangements for a post mortem
  • obtaining any relevant medical records and/or further reports from any other third parties such as the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), doctors etc., basically anyone relevant to the case
  • ensuring that all relevant documentation is disclosed to everyone involved and undertaking a detailed review of it all
  • obtaining statements from any relevant witnesses
  • attending a pre-inquest review hearing and preparing submissions for the coroner to arrange the inquest hearing
  • arranging for an independent expert to be instructed
  • questioning witnesses
  • making submissions to the coroner in respect of the conclusions (previously known as the ‘verdict’)

Why you should consider instructing a solicitor for an inquest

Interested persons, such as a family member or friend of the deceased, can choose to represent themselves at an inquest if they wish to do so. However, we would strongly urge people to consider specialist legal representation for an inquest in all but the most straightforward and uncontroversial deaths.

The formalities and procedure of an inquest hearing are likely to be a daunting prospect for the family of the deceased, particularly whilst grieving for the loss of their loved one.

Furthermore, the other interested parties are likely to be far more familiar with the process outlined above and will also have their own legal representation. This can mean that family members who represent themselves feel intimidated and ill-prepared when faced with experienced advocates.

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