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Inquests and Inquiries

If you’re involved in a coroner’s inquest into a death, whether as a relative or organisation, we offer specialist legal advice and assistance throughout the entire process.

Our vast experience spans many different types of cases where an inquest is opened following a state body’s or private organisation’s involvement in a death. From work-related deaths that require formal investigations to contentious deaths that occur following police contact or at a hospital, we offer specialist support and guidance aimed at ensuring our clients are fully and effectively represented.

Read our guide: Inquests

The Purpose and Procedure of an Inquest

When someone’s death is considered non-natural (such as deaths in a business premises, on building sites or during employment), occurs following contact with or in the care of a public body (such as deaths when in police custody or involving poor medical treatment) or the cause is unknown, a coroner will be legally required to carry out an investigation and open an inquest.

An inquest is a fact-finding exercise that is aimed at scrutinising and establishing the circumstances surrounding someone’s death. They are often complex, involving highly detailed examinations of policies, procedures and evidence. A coroner’s verdict or decision provides a narrative account of the circumstances that led to the death. Although they do not seek to attribute blame or responsibility, they are a means for establishing accountability, which can raise issues of civil or criminal liability.

If you are deemed an interested party, whether as a family member or organisation, you should be legally represented. We draw on our vast experience of inquest work to ensure you’re thoroughly represented and fully supported. We will also help you prepare for the outcome, including the possibility of challenging a coroner’s verdict via judicial review or dealing with any further consequences that are beyond the scope of the inquest procedure, such as civil or criminal proceedings.

Saunders Law – 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.

We are ranked as a leading firm in The Legal 500 for Civil Liberties and Human Rights, and Administrative and Public Law, and in Chambers & Partners for Police Law: Mainly Claimant.

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

Public Inquiries

When an event takes place which causes or is capable of causing 'public concern', the Government can sometimes elect to hold a public inquiry.

A public inquiry can be a powerful way to hold powerful institutions to account as a broad range of evidence is heard in public and wide recommendations can be made to stop similar injustices occurring in the future.

A public inquiry operates differently to a normal legal case in that it is ordered by the Government and is led by an independent Chair (often a Judge) who determines what aspects will be investigated.  At the conclusion of the inquiry a report will be published setting out what it has determined to be the facts of what happened, and recommendations.  Much like an inquest, an inquiry cannot make a finding of legal liability, but its findings can be used as a springboard for a civil or criminal case afterwards.

However public inquiries are different to inquests even when they happen after a death.  An inquest is generally limited to an examination of who the deceased is, when and where they died, how they died and in what circumstances..  An inquiry on the other hand can have a much broader remit within its terms of reference.

The parties involved in a public inquiry are known as 'core participants' and their status as such must be approved by the Chair.  Core Participants can be individuals, government bodies such as the police, and corporate bodies.

Inquiries are complex matters involving huge amounts of evidence and extensive legal arguments.  This is compounded by the fact that often the inquiry will be dealing with distressing circumstances.  Specialist legal advice is therefore essential.  At Saunders Law we are known for our inquiry work, acting for both individuals and organisations.  We do not act for the Government or public authorities, and are dedicated to representing those who are seeking justice from the state.  Our experienced team, headed by partners James Saunders and Nia Williams, have decades of experience advising in connection with the most high-profile public inquiries, including:

Grenfell Tower

We are currently instructed in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry led by Sir Justice Moore-Bick, which is examining the catastrophic fire which claimed so many lives in Summer 2017.  The Inquiry was opened in September 2017 and will examine a range of issues in order to determine why the fire spread so quickly and with such devastating results.

Undercover Policing

We are instructed in the UCPI (Undercover Policing Inquiry) which was opened in 2015 after it emerged that for many years undercover police had been spying on a huge range of lawful, non-violent activist groups, trade unions and justice campaigners.  We are instructed by Michael Mansfield QC, an eminent lawyer who has reason to believe he was spied upon by the police because of his work in cases which challenged the state.

Hillsborough Independent Panel – known as the “Hillsborough Inquiry” – and Hillsborough Inquest

Saunders Law has been acting for many of the Hillsborough families for some years and members of the team have been advising in connection with the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the Hillsborough Inquests.   The firm has been a Group Litigation Order in respect of all claims being brought for misfeasance in public office against the Chief Constables of South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police in relation to the police investigations following the Hillsborough tragedy in April 1989.   The litigation is to be known as "The Hillsborough Victims’ Misfeasance Litigation" and is on-going.

The Leveson Inquiry and The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee

Saunders Law advised before the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British Press, following the News International Phone hacking scandal. This included representing the former Director of Legal Affairs before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and obtaining a subsequent exoneration before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Saunders Law – Public Specialist Legal Advice

At Saunders Law, we offer expert legal assistance and representation in all public inquiry cases and we are well-known for our work and thorough approach to complex cases.

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.