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Council Services:

What is an inquest?

This section provides information about inquests.

What is an inquest?

An inquest is a public court hearing held by the Coroner to establish who died and how, when and where the death occurred. The purpose is to discover the facts of the death, not to apportion blame on any individual or organisation.

Why is there an inquest?

If it was not possible to find out the cause of death, the death was unnatural, or the death occurred in state detention the Coroner has to hold an inquest to complete the investigation. The only exception will be if there is a police prosecution in relation to a death.

Opening an inquest

Where an inquest is required the Coroner will open the inquest as soon as possible. This hearing is normally very brief; the Coroner will then immediately adjourn the inquest until a later date when the necessary reports and documents are available.

What is a pre-inquest review?

Occasionally, the Coroner will hold one or more hearings before the inquest which are known as pre-inquest reviews. This would normally happen when the circumstances of the death are complex and there needs to be a legal discussion about the scope of the inquest.

Who can attend an inquest?

Inquest hearings are always held in public. The Coroners Court Support Service (CCSS) will be in attendance to provide support to families and witnesses. Relatives of the deceased will be invited to attend. A Coroner’s Officer may attend depending on the circumstances and complexity of the death. Witnesses who have been summoned to give evidence will also attend. Members of the public and the media are allowed to attend.

The Coroners’ Courts Support Service (CCSS) is a voluntary organisation whose professionally trained volunteers support bereaved families, witnesses and others when they attend an inquest at coroners courts in Lincolnshire. The volunteers offer emotional support and practical help and guide people through the inquest, giving them information about the process and procedures.

If you would like to speak to someone from the CCSS prior to attending, you can contact them on info@ccsupport.org.uk or call 0300 111 2141.

Will the inquest be reported by the press?

Journalists may attend the inquest and report on what has taken place. Anything read out at the inquest may be reported on. The Coroner’s Office will not release any information to the media which has not already been made public through the inquest.

If you have any concerns about what has been published by the media you can get advice from the Press Complaints Commission or by calling 0845 600 2757.

What happens at an inquest?

The Coroner will introduce the inquest explaining who everyone is and what will be happening, then summon and question the relevant witnesses who have to give evidence. All witnesses are required to swear an oath or make a declaration. Family members and other Properly Interested Persons can ask questions of the witnesses after the Coroner has done so. The Coroner will read out any statements that are to be taken as documentary evidence and will then summarise the evidence and pronounce the conclusion (or where there is a jury, give them directions as to the range of conclusions which they can consider).

Am I a Properly Interested Person?

A Properly Interested Person can include, but is not exclusive to, direct relatives (spouse, siblings, children and parents), executor, a person or organisation who may have contributed to the death, and medical personnel who were involved with the deceased prior to death. Properly Interested Person’s may use legal representation on their behalf.

If you believe that you should be treated as a Properly Interested Person, please put this in writing to the Coroner’s Office explaining who you are and the reason why.

Inquest conclusions

The coroner comes to a conclusion at the end of the inquest, this will include determining who died, and where, when and how they died. The death will usually be recorded as accident, misadventure, natural causes, industrial disease, suicide, open or narrative.

How do I get a death certificate after an inquest?

If the N of Kin is in attendance at the inquest, the Coroners Court Support Service will give them a form to complete and submit to the Registration Service applying for a death certificate. If the Next of Kin is not in attendance at the inquest, they will be written to informing them of the conclusion and how to apply for a death certificate. After an inquest, the Next of Kin do not need to attend to register the death.

What happens when someone has been charged with causing the death?

In these circumstances the Coroner will adjourn the inquest until after the criminal court proceedings have been concluded. It may then be unnecessary to reopen the inquest.

What if future deaths may be prevented?

Sometimes at an inquest evidence will show that something could be done to prevent other deaths from happening in the future. If this is the case the Coroner will inform the inquest. The Coroner must write a report to the organisation or person that may have the power to take action. A copy of this report will be sent to Properly Interested Persons. The organisation or person must respond within 56 days. The coroner must send the report and the response to the Chief Coroner. These are published by the Ministry of Justice for public viewing.

Can I get a copy of the documents used at the inquest?

The Coroner will usually supply a copy of the following documents to Properly Interested Persons, next of kin and legal representatives on application in writing for a fee:

  • the Record of Inquest
  • all other documents used as evidence during the inquest
  • the coroner’s inquest notes

The current fees for each document are £5 for up to 10 pages, plus 50p per additional page. Recordings of the inquest on CD cost £5 each. An estimate of the fees can be provided in advance, if requested. Transcriptions of inquests are not avaliable.

For further information on inquests please see the Guide to Coroners Service.

Bereavement Guide

Lincolnshire County Council’s registration service has produced a guide to help you through the difficulty of losing a loved one.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

Need an appointment?

For your convenience, you can book an appointment to register a Birth or Death online.

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Last updated: 1 August 2017

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