"His ability to cut to the chase, while listening, is his strength."

Legal 500 2024

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Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, and it can be even more difficult if there are related legal proceedings to navigate. In certain situations, an inquest may be held to investigate how a person died. The coroner will not attribute blame for the death, but can use their findings to help prevent similar deaths happening in future.  

If you find yourself having to take part in an inquest, legal representation can help in a number of ways. Experienced experts can guide you through the process, help you to ask the right questions and liaise with the coroner, public bodies and other interested parties on your behalf. If this case garners media interest, our barristers can be on hand to help you manage the attention.

Our team combines an extensive understanding of the law with an empathetic manner to ensure that clients are well represented. We are highly experienced in all kinds of inquests including:

  • Deaths involving all kinds of medical issues, including surgical, nursing, obstetric and anaesthetic failures
  • Mental health 
  • Homicides
  • Terrorist-related deaths
  • Deaths in custody
  • Military deaths
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Construction and other workplace accidents

Inquests FAQs

An inquest is a formal inquiry by a Coroner to determine how someone died and can involve a jury to decide the cause of death. The purpose of an inquest is to establish who, where, when and how a person died and is an investigation, not a trial or adversarial hearing. There is only an inquest under specific circumstances:

  • The death is violent or unatural
  • The cause of death is unknown
  • There is a legal requirement to investigate e.g. a death in prison, whilst sectioned.

Before an inquest is held there is a post-mortem (autopsy) to try and find a cause of death and a Pre Inquest Review (PIR) which sets out what preparation is required before the inquest itself. This includes disclosure of documents, witnesses, the potential date etc and there might be more than one PIR before the inquest is held. At the inquest the Coroner, any interested people and the jury (if there is one) hear all the evidence. The Coroner summarises the evidence then delivers their verdict / findings. If there is a jury then the Coroner summarises the evidence and what different verdicts they can reach before they make their verdict.

A Coroner is a type of judge with a legal (and often medical) background who is independently appointed by the Lord Chancellor and the Chief Coroner for England and Wales (not the Crown). Their role is to find out who, when, where and how the person died for official records as well as for the benefit of the bereaved. They cover a specific geographical area.

Inquests are held at highly emotional times for loved ones and can be complicated for any ‘Interested Person’ involved so it can be beneficial to have an experienced representative guide you through the process, help gather the relevant evidence and ask the right questions for you.

We represent every type of party, also known as ‘Interested Person’ or ‘IP’, including families, those involved in the care of the deceased (GPs, Ambulance Services etc) and representatives of where the person died (e.g. police officers, detention centre staff etc.)

It is expected that all ‘Interested Persons’ or ‘IP’ (who are relevant parties to the inquest, such as doctors, family members) will attend court. Inquests are traditionally held at Coroner’s Courts but are also currently conducted remotely.

Our barristers combine expert medical knowledge with superb advocacy skills and extensive experience in the Coroner’s Courts. In addition, many members have edited and co-authored the leading practitioner guide to coronial law The Inquest Book: The Law of Coroners and Inquests and we currently have H.M. Senior Coroner and two Assistant Coroners in our chambers.

Direct Access, also known as Public Access, allows you to directly instruct a barrister to act on your behalf, without using a solicitor or intermediary as is traditional. You are managing your case. However, not all cases are suitable for direct access and only barristers specifically trained to accept direct access instruction can assist you. Meet our trained barristers here.

We use a 4 step process outlining how you can instruct a barrister directly: Enquire, Discuss, Confirm, Instruct. Each stage is designed so we can make sure your case is suitable for direct access. It enables our clerks to find the right barrister, at the right price, for the right time just for you. Read more about the process here.

  • Represent you at court, before a tribunal, at a mediation and/or arbitration
  • Advise you on the potential outcomes of your case
  • Advise on drafting correspondence, formal Court documents and expert/witness statements
  • Advise you on involving experts
  • Advise you on the next steps in the proceedings. 

  • Liaise directly with the courts and other parties
  • Collect evidence and relevant papers
  • Handle money on your behalf

It is your responsibility to provide clear, concise instructions for your barrister to work towards your desired outcome. They cannot manage your case or your affairs nor can they handle money on your behalf.

Each case is different and some cases are not suitable for direct access instruction. For this area Clients using legal aid are not suitable for Direct Access so should instruct us using a solicitor. 

If your case is not suitable

Some cases require more day to day management so are not suitable for direct access. In this case, we will not progress beyond the Enquiry stage of our process but you can instruct us using a solicitor.

Fees can be a fixed amount for agreed upon work or an hourly rate with a set limit. Your case is unique but our experienced clerks can provide an accurate fee once you have submitted your enquiry form. Generally speaking, fees can vary depend on how senior a barrister is and how many hours work are needed but you’ll be aware of exactly what you are spending. Read more about our fees here.

Inquests team

An easy process

Upon receiving this enquiry form a Public Access Clerk will contact you to discuss your case in further detail. Please see our 4 steps outlining the process of instructing a Direct Access Barrister.

1. Submit an enquiry
Fill out our form, designed to collect as much information as possible about your case.

2. Speak to a clerk
After carefully reviewing your form, a specially trained Clerk will get in touch to confirm if your case is suitable for one of our Direct Access Barristers.

3. Receive a client care pack
Once our Direct Access Barrister has agreed in principle to represent you, you will be sent a ‘client care letter’.

4. Instructing a Barrister
If you want to go ahead after agreeing to your client care letter, it’s time to instruct your Direct Access Barrister. Download a PDF of this process here.

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