Talk to an expert inquest solicitor today by calling 07971 520407.
Our team of expert solicitors provide advice, assistance and representation to individuals and businesses following notification that they are considered to be an Interested Person in a Coroner’s Inquest.
From a commercial perspective it can be vital that inquests are handled proactively in order to minimise any reputational damage or prevent future civil or criminal proceedings from being bought against you or your business.
How can we help?
Our expert solicitors can advise and assist throughout the Inquest process, including;
- Preparation of statements
- Article 2 representations
- Liaising with the Coroner and Coroners’ officers (often the police)
- Representation at any pre-Inquest reviews and the Inquest hearing
- Ensuring that the Inquest is conducted properly
- Ensuring that your or your organisation’s rights and best interests are protected
When is an Inquest required?
An Inquest is a public hearing held when an individual has died in unnatural or unknown circumstances or where a person has died in prison, police or state custody.
Inquests are the formal judicial process undertaken to determine:
- The identity of the deceased;
- the place of death;
- the time of death; and
- how the deceased came about their death.
Most importantly, an Inquest focuses on how an individual came to their death.
The Coroner can provide either a short form conclusion or a narrative conclusion on this point.
Wherever possible, a short form conclusion should be given. This is a simple and straightforward conclusion such as ‘accident’, ‘suicide’ or ‘unlawful killing’. A narrative conclusion will provide more detail but should remain non-judgemental.
What is an Article 2 Inquest?
If the state is said to be responsible for an individual’s death then a wider Article 2 Inquest can, in certain circumstances, be held. In an Article 2 Inquest, a narrative conclusion can be judgemental and can look at the events leading up to an individual’s death together with any procedures connected with their death. However, such a conclusion must still not comment upon civil or criminal liability.
Article 2 submissions can be very complex. Our team has the benefit of working on such cases with leading King’s Counsel to argue for or against an Article 2 Inquest being held.
What is an Interested Person in an Inquest?
An Interested Person is someone who is entitled to participate in the Inquest and may include members of the deceased’s family, medical practitioners or a person who may, by any act or omission have caused or contributed to an individual’s death.
The Coroner will usually notify you or your business if you are deemed to be an Interested Person and you will receive a copy of the evidence. You may then have to provide a statement and attend the Inquest hearing to give evidence.
An Interested Person can be asked questions but can also be given the opportunity to ask questions of other Interested persons in the proceedings.
Any interested Person can be legally represented.
Can a Coroner attribute corporate or individual liability?
Whilst a Coroner is prohibited from attributing any criminal or civil liability, they can form factual conclusions concerning the causes of, or the contributory factors to, the death.
Can evidence from the Inquest be used in a civil or criminal case?
Any evidence which emerges during the course of an Inquest may be relied upon in any subsequent negligence or civil claim brought by the family of the deceased.
Also, any evidence which emerges during the course of an Inquest may also be relied upon in any subsequent criminal investigation or prosecution.
What is a ‘Prevention of Future Deaths Report’
The Coroner may also prepare a ‘Prevention of Future Deaths Report’ which identifies steps which the Coroner considers should be taken to avoid similar harm in the future. These are published online and could cause reputational damage for any named parties.
When should you seek advice?
If you or your company have been informed that you will be an Interested Person in an Inquest you should carefully consider the role you might play and whether legal representation is required. We have the expertise and experience to assist you in these considerations.
Our team will ensure that statements are carefully prepared and will assist you in guarding against any reputational damage or future civil/criminal proceedings being bought.
Our Regulatory and Corporate Defence lawyers
Our Regulatory & Corporate Defence team are happy to help you with any questions that you may have regarding Coroner’s Inquests.
The team have been involved in representing individuals and corporate clients in many Inquests. We have particular expertise in dealing with high profile Inquests such as Deepcut and the Jack Ritchie Inquest.
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