I nquests are public judicial inquiries to understand the circumstances of the death of an individual. The inquest is tasked with determining who the deceased was, when and where they died, the medical cause of death and how they came by their death. The inquest should be limited to responding to only these questions and should not deal with issues of blame or responsibility for the death. More recently, however, in some high-profile inquests, this line has become blurred.

If you were caring for the individual or witnessed the circumstances leading to their death, we will consider whether you should apply to the Coroner for interested party status. We will discuss your position with you and advise you whether it is in your interests to seek a more involved role in the inquest or not.

You may have already been designated 'interested party' status and if so, we will advise you on the evidence served and support you during the inquest.

 A conclusion of unlawful killing or criticism of you (or your organisation) could lead to further investigations by the police or regulatory bodies. It is important that you are advised properly from the very early stages.

Public inquiries are set up by the government, under the Inquiries Act 2005, to investigate events which have, or could cause, public concern.

Public inquiries tend to be chaired by a serving or retired judge and will receive both written and oral testimony. The focus of the inquiry will be to establish what happened in the particular circumstances and the lessons to be learned in the future. As a consequence, the Chair of the inquiry is permitted, in his or her conclusions to offer criticism of organisations or individuals.

If you played a significant role in the events under investigation by the Public Inquiry, we will advise you as to whether you should be applying for 'core participant' status. If core participant status is granted, this will allow you access to the Inquiry’s evidence and engage fully in the hearings.  The conclusions of a public inquiry will be extremely important whether you engaged with the process as a witness or core participant. Any personal criticism of you will have a reputational impact but also could lead to an investigation into your actions.

Should there be an indication that you are to be criticised in the final report, you will receive a warning letter explaining this to you and giving you the opportunity to comment on the proposed criticisms. We will assist you with responding to this letter and will advise you in respect of any further investigations into your conduct.

Inquests and Public Inquiries