An Introduction to Coroners’ Inquests - What You Need to Know
Inquests are significant legal events as they are often the first time witnesses explain, on oath, what they saw.
Unlike some other legal processes, inquests do not ‘settle’, nor can they be compromised by agreement between those involved. They are valuable not only for families striving to understand what happened, but for the media, they represent an opportunity to hear evidence first hand and report matters of concern to the wider public.
Any lawyer involved must understand the process and be aware of the ways an Inquest may be expanded or contained.
This webinar will enable you to forewarn your client what will happen and when and how their position can be secured or advanced by making astute contributions, at the appropriate time.
What You Will Learn
This webinar will cover the following:
- The structure of the coroners’ courts system and the fundamental differences between it and other courts
- The relevant law - which comprises statutes, regulations, rules, guidance notes and a plethora of court precedents
- The organisation of coroners’ courts and the respective roles of the chief coroner, senior coroners, area coroners, assistant coroners and local authorities
- The statutory purpose of an inquest and the limits imposed upon the process
- The way proceedings are commenced and progress, plus their likely timescales
- A statistical overview of the way deaths are dealt with in England and Wales
- Initial investigations: types of post mortem examinations; toxicology, histology and other tests
- An examination of the key concepts, such as:
- Interested persons
- Findings, determinations and conclusions
- The ‘scope’ of the inquest
- Disclosure of documents and statements - from and to the coroner
- Pre inquest reviews: appropriate agenda items
- The role of lawyers, with tips as to how and when to make effective submissions
- Experts: when and how they are involved
- The impact of the Human Rights Act 2009; in particular, Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- The distinction between Jamieson and Middleton inquests. Whether alleged ‘systematic failings’ in relation to medical treatment trigger the engagement of Article 2
- The procedure at an inquest:
- When juries are involved
- Entitlement to put questions - by whom and when?
- Protection against self incrimination
- A statistical analysis of those most frequently returned
- The standard of proof to be applied in suicide cases, following the court of appeal decision in Maughan 
- The ongoing debate as to the standard to be applied in relation to ‘unlawful killing’ cases
- An insight into the complexities of ‘neglect’ in the coronial arena
- The content and construction of ‘narrative’ conclusions
- Regulation 28 reports (also called prevention of future deaths (‘PFDs’) - understanding the coroner’s duty and the implications for the recipient
- Remedies available following an inquest: a brief insight into judicial review
This webinar was recorded on 20th August 2019