Inquests will most commonly arise in relation to circumstances where the cause of death is unknown, where someone dies in a sudden, violent or unusual way or when someone dies whilst in state care or detention for example, a death in prison. An inquest is essentially a public hearing which is chaired by the coroner which seeks to establish when, where and how a death occurred. It is not a trial and it is not in the coroner’s power to impose convictions or other penalties. The role of the coroner is to investigate the circumstances of a death and to make recommendations on how to avoid such deaths in the future.
At P.A. Duffy & Co, our solicitors can provide legal advice to families and individuals involved in the inquest. They can explain the process, your rights, and what to expect during the proceedings.
When Can an Inquest be Ordered?
Some examples include:
Death in Prison – There will be an automatic Inquest following a death in prison whether it occurs due to natural causes, suicide or self-inflicted injuries, injuries caused by other inmates or prison officers. An Article 2 Inquest can be ordered in these circumstances.
Deaths in Police Custody – An Article 2 Inquest can also be ordered in these circumstances. This type of Inquest relates to the ‘right to life’ enshrined in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Deaths while detained under Mental Health Act – persons who are considered to be of unsound mind can be detained in a hospital or care facility. There is an enhanced duty of care to these patients as they are usually considered high risk. If there have been failings which have resulted in a death then it is important that an Inquest is ordered to properly investigate the circumstances of a death.
Deaths in a hospital or care setting – Inquests of this nature generally relate to failings or negligence which have resulted in an avoidable death. Again, it is important to properly investigate the circumstances of deaths in hospital or care so that similar incidents can be avoided in the future.
How can I finance an inquest?
We know that funding an inquest might be a worry at an already difficult time, so we offer a range of options. These include:
Legal expenses cover
After the Event insurance (ATE insurance)
We will be happy to discuss funding with you to find the best option for your circumstances.
What is the time limit for initiating an inquest?
There is generally no strict time limit for initiating an inquest. Inquests are conducted to investigate the circumstances surrounding a person's death, and they can be held regardless of how much time has passed since the death occurred. Unlike many other legal actions, such as personal injury claims, inquests are not subject to specific statutory limitations.
However, it's important to note that while there is no formal time limit for initiating an inquest, it is typically conducted relatively soon after the death, especially if there are concerns or questions about the circumstances. The timing of an inquest may vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the case, the availability of evidence, and the workload of the coroner's office.
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