If you’re considering an inquest into the death of someone close to you, or have read about the process, then you’ll know there’s a considerable amount of legal jargon that comes out of any proceedings.

Here we give you the top terms you might need to know, to help you when you’re involved in an inquest:

Article II inquest

This refers to Article II of the European Convention on Human Rights (commonly known as the ‘right to life’). If the death occurs under state care, or by agents of the state, then Article II will be invoked as the State is required to take appropriate steps to safeguard life. Death in police custody is an example of such an inquest.

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Balance of probabilities

The burden of proof required for inquests (the same as for civil trials), except the conclusions of unlawful killing or suicide. i.e. is a version of events more likely than not?

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Barrister

A lawyer, who is also known as Counsel, who can represent you at an inquest and ask questions on your behalf.

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Beyond reasonable doubt

This burden of proof is required for conclusions of unlawful killing or suicide. i.e. there is no other logical version of events, as derived from the facts.

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Called

A witness who must attend the inquest and give evidence in person.

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Conclusion

Previously known as a verdict, this is the formal outcome of the Inquest. Examples of conclusions include natural causes, accidental death and suicide.

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Coroner

An official who holds the inquest, similar to a judge in court. They also order the post-mortem examination.

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Coroner’s officer

Helps the coroner with the inquest process, such as corresponding with Interested Persons and managing the disclosure of information.

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Inquest

A judicial inquiry held when there has been a sudden, unexplained, violent or unnatural death. The purpose is to determine how, where and when the death occurred.

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Interested Person (IP)

Individuals and bodies with the right to ask questions at an inquest; as defined in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Family members i.e. parents and partners of the person who has died are automatically IPs but the definition can also include a hospital, care home, Council, trade union, police force and many other bodies, dependent upon the circumstances.

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“Jamieson Inquest”

A type of Article II inquest, where neglect by an individual is considered.

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“Middleton Inquest”

A type of Article II inquest, where systemic neglect is considered.

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Narrative conclusion

An opportunity by the coroner (sometimes delegated to the jury) to outline their conclusion in detail and emphasise any issues. Occasionally a questionnaire is produced for the jury to answer.

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Open conclusion

No conclusion can be reached based on the evidence presented.

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Post-mortem

A detailed examination of the body to determine the cause of death. Otherwise known as an autopsy.

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Pre inquest review (PIR)

A meeting held with the coroner and Interested Persons to plan for the Inquest. PIRs typically address legal and procedure issues before the full inquest, including: disclosure of information; which witnesses will attend in person; and confirming the Interested Persons.

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Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report

If the coroner believes that the death could have been prevented, then they have a duty to write to whoever they have identified as the appropriate authority, recommending that change is considered. Otherwise known as a Regulation 28 Report.

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Read (Rule 23)

A statement by a witness is read at the inquest but the witness does not have to be physically present in court. This allows their statement to be admitted as evidence. Rule 23 of the Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013 was the rule that allowed this.

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Submissions

The statements that your barrister will make on your behalf. i.e. your interpretation of the evidence presented.

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Short-form conclusion

There are a range of these available to the coroner, including but not limited to: suicide, industrial disease, misadventure and natural causes.

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Verdict

See Conclusion definition above.

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