Inquests: An Overview

An inquest is a legal investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding a person's death, including how, when and why the death occurred.

On average, just under half of all deaths which occur, are referred to a coroner. This occurs when there is reason to suspect that: the deceased died a violent or unnatural death, the cause of the death is unknown or the deceased was in the custody of the State i.e. in prison, police custody, an immigration detention centre or detained in a mental health hospital.

The purpose of an inquest is set by statute. An inquest is held at court by a Coroner, where the Coroner's court will be seeking to ascertain:

  • Who the deceased was
  • When the deceased came by his/her death
  • Where the deceased came by his/her death
  • How the deceased came by his/her death. This is the question that occupies the majority of the time during the inquest. A wider inquiry is conducted than just that of the medical cause of death. However, the inquiry is narrower than an exploration into questions of responsibility

It is often stated at inquests that no-one is on trial, including the deceased. It is known as a fact finding exercise. Evidence is given by witnesses but there is no prosecution or defense. After hearing the evidence at an inquest, the Coroner or a jury must make a determination on the four issues above. Inquests are complex and can be extremely stressful and difficult for family members of the deceased.

Our expert lawyers will provide you with legal advice and support at every stage of the inquest process.

Coroner's Inquests Specialist Legal Advice

At Saunders Law, we offer expert legal assistance and representation in inquests and inquiries into non-natural deaths. We're well-known for our inquest work and thorough approach to complex cases. Nia Williams, the head of the Civil Liberties and Actions against the Police Department is currently representing the family of Terry Smith who died following restraint in police custody. Saunders Law represented Sky News in relation to the inquest into the death of Brenda Leyland, and Laing O'Rourke in relation to the inquest into the death of David Holloway at a building site.

For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of how we may be able to help, please contact us today.

Call us on 0207 632 4300 or make an enquiry online.


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