Calls for automatic funding for family members in inquests
Legal aid funding is currently only available to family members in certain circumstances in some types of inquest. Families are all too often left without legal representation when attending and trying to properly engage in an inquest that relates to the death of their loved one. Even when funding is available, the application process is long and complicated.
A year ago, a Home Office backed review into deaths in custody undertaken by Dame Elish Anglioni recommended automatic funding of legal representation without means-testing for families in cases where state agencies have been involved in a death. A similar plea was made by the Right Rev James Jones, a former bishop of Liverpool, in his review of the issues facing families since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Campaigners are now urging the government to put in place interim measures to make sure that family members are appropriately funded. INQUEST, which supports families through the inquest process, has called for automatic funding for families in cases like these.
It is exceptionally important that family members receive funding for their own representatives in inquests, particularly where the state is represented so that they are properly supported and guided through this already very difficult process. This is particularly the case given that state agencies and those employed by them, such as police forces, police officers, prisons, or NHS trusts, tend to be represented by lawyers paid for with public money. Where there are multiple state agencies involved, this can mean numerous lawyers for the state asking questions and making representations in an inquest where a family are left to represent themselves. This was covered in a recent Guardian article, which can be found here.
It is vital that action is taken urgently to ensure that this inequality does not continue.
Civil Liberties, Inquests, and Civil Actions Against the Police Specialist Legal Advice
At Saunders Law, we team offer expert legal assistance and representation in matters arising from deaths in state custody, including in inquest proceedings and resulting civil claims. We appreciate that circumstances like these are exceptionally difficult and that everyone's experience is different, and we are used to adapting our service to make sure that it meets our clients' needs.
Should you be looking for advice in this or a related area, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no-obligation, initial discussion to see if we might be able to help.
Call us on 02076324300 or make an enquiry online.