Help Guides

Inquest Law

Inquest (frequently asked questions)

  • What is an inquest?

    An inquest is conducted by a coroner and is a formal investigation to establish the cause of an individual’s death.

  • What is the role of a coroner?

    A coroner is a government official who is empowered to order an inquest in order to establish someone’s cause of death.

  • Is an inquest always required?

    No. If the death is determined as being due to natural causes, for example following a post-mortem, then there is no need for any further investigation. Inquests are usually instigated in cases of violent or unnatural deaths.

  • What is a post-mortem?

    A post-mortem is an examination following a death to examine the body. This is to determine what caused the death of an individual. This can be invasive (surgical) or none invasive assisted by digital technology. A post mortem is sometimes referred to as an autopsy.

  • Will there need to be a post-mortem?

    It is not necessary for a post-mortem to always take place. The coroner will decide if a post-mortem is necessary to establish the cause of death.

  • What happens before an inquest?

    The coroner’s team (which is usually led by a serving police officer) will investigate the circumstances of the death and gather evidence. Medical evidence will also be gathered and a post-mortem/autopsy may be conducted with a report will be conducted on the findings as to the cause of one’s death. It may be necessary to conduct a pre-hearing review. No evidence is heard within this review. The purpose of this review is to focus on the necessary steps that are required in preparation for the inquest to take place.

  • What happens at an inquest?

    The inquest hearing is the presentation of all the documentation and evidence.The coroner may ask witnesses to give evidence in relation to the death. Once all the witnesses have been called a summary of the evidence is conducted. If a jury is present then they will determine the verdict, if not then the coroner will summarise the evidence presented and complete a Record of Inquest form.

  • When will a jury be involved within an inquest?

    A jury will only be involved within an inquest if the death occurs whilst the individual is in custody or where article 2 of the ECHR is invoked.

  • Do I need legal representation?

    If your inquest involves public institutions, then legal representation may be advised. Despite this, you do not always have to have legal representation present.

  • Can I ask questions at an inquest?

    Questions are permitted, however, you would normally have to be considered ain interested party to have the right to ask questions.