Inquests | Bolt Burdon Kemp Inquests | Bolt Burdon Kemp

Find your Lawyer

Free call back
Contact us
Round the clock support
Won't shy away from difficult cases
Committed to swiftly progressing claims
Medical Negligence

Inquests

When a loved one dies unexpectedly or in circumstances that cause concern that it could have prevented the family will often be bewildered and want to know how it will be investigated. It can sometimes feel as if the authorities are not taking the death sufficiently seriously and, worst of all, that the family is being pushed out of the investigation process at a time when they are grieving. It helps to have information early on, so that those concerned can have as much insight into the investigation, and make such contribution as they can.

Contact us for an informal chat with one of our legal experts, no strings attached
Get in touch

At Bolt Burdon Kemp we know the importance to families of having strong professional help with what can be a slow and frustrating process. We have supported clients through inquests into deaths arising from:

What is an inquest?

An inquest is the Coroner’s investigation, and will involve one or more Court hearings. The inquiry must be begun within 6 months of the Coroner being notified of the death. It must usually be held in public and anyone who has notified the coroner of a reasonable interest within that time must be notified of the hearing date.

When will an inquest be held?

When someone dies suddenly or in unexplained circumstances the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths must report it to the Coroner, who must then decide whether to hold an inquest. The Coroner can usually decide whether or not an inquest will in fact be necessary, but in a number of situations it will be compulsory. These are when the death was:

  • Violent or unnatural
  • Sudden or of unknown cause
  • In prison of police custody

What will the Coroner investigate?

The purpose of the inquest is usually to establish the following four basic facts:

  • The identity of the deceased;
  • The place of death;
  • The time of death;
  • How the deceased came by his or her death.

This basic procedure is known as a Jamieson inquest. Here, the coroner will only consider evidence that is relevant to establishing these four facts and will not investigate whether anyone was to blame, but the information and evidence which may emerge during the course of an inquest is often crucial in assessing whether negligence, neglect or even violence contributed to causing the death.

In some circumstances, however, the Coroner can and should decide to conduct a more extensive inquiry which also investigates by what means and in what circumstances the deceased came by his or her death. This is because under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights the state has a duty to protect the life of its citizens, and if it has apparently breached that obligation there must be a full and open inquiry into the circumstances. This is called a Middleton inquest and would be appropriate when, for example, a solider is killed on exercise or in combat, or when a patient dies while detained under the Mental Health Act.

A Middleton inquest should be considered when:

  • The death was caused by the state, and
  • There appear to have been failures that were serious and systematic, and
  • The state was aware of these failures but did not act

If you are facing the prospect of an inquest into the death of a loved one, then we will be able to guide you through the inquest process. We can also advise you if you wish to bring a claim for compensation.

Our Insights

Loss of Hearing due to medical negligence

Losing your ability to hear is devastating.  Until it has been impaired or has gone altogether, you do not realise the detrimental effect it can…

By Hannah Travis
Cwm Taf Maternity Failings

A recent report by the Independent Maternity Services Oversight Panel (Imsop) has found that a shocking two thirds of women could have had a different…

By Felicity Cottle
Dependency claims: Who is eligible and what is it?

In a previous blog, I considered the bereavement award in fatal accident claims. In particular, I reviewed the value of the award, who would be…

By Michael Doyle
BBC Radio 4 Appeal for Wellbeing of Women’s vital work

Women make up 50% of the population and yet many women’s health issues are often overlooked and under researched.  Women’s health research is chronically underfunded…

By Felicity Cottle
Read all posts

Some of Our Accreditations

See more of our accreditations

We’re here to help you.

Want to talk to one of our experienced lawyers? We can call when it suits you for a no-obligation, strictly confidential chat.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser.

This site (and many others) provides a limited experience on unsupported browsers and not all functionality will work correctly or look its best.