Inquests

Specialist inquest solicitors representing families, organisations, other interested persons and witnesses.

"They are outstanding; they combine high-level legal skills with real human understanding."

Chambers UK 2021

The law relating to inquests is complex and the process can be daunting and confusing. Our inquest solicitors have an established record of representing families, other interested persons and witnesses.  We have acted in many high profile cases such as the Westminster Bridge terror attack, The 7/7 London Bombings and Diana Princess of Wales.
 

Although an inquest will not lead to a finding that an individual or an organisation is to blame for someone’s death, it can be a very important part of the process of holding people or bodies to account and in ensuring, where appropriate, that steps are taken to prevent deaths in similar circumstances occurring again. In some circumstances, an inquest can be the first step in deciding whether to bring a claim for damages against an employer or hospital or medical professional.

Dealing with an inquest as a family

For families, an inquest conducted by a coroner can be the first and sometimes only way of establishing how their loved one died. With this in mind, we will help to guide you through the inquest process, seeking to minimise the difficulty and distress that may arise. 

Dealing with an inquest as an organisation

For senior managers and members of staff in an organisation, an inquest can be a very challenging process of scrutiny and accountability, with potentially significant reputational and commercial consequences.

Inquest solicitors

We will work together with you from the beginning to assist you through every step of the inquest process. We provide sensible advice concerning critical decisions made by the coroner throughout the process, as well as any further steps you may wish to take following the conclusion.  

The team is led by Adam Chapman. Our substantial expertise in inquests extends across the firm, including members of our public lawclinical negligencehealth and safety and criminal litigation teams, allowing us to resource a truly expert team according to the context and demands of the case.

If you require more information,  please see our Inquest FAQs setting out key inquest questions you may have as an individual, family or an organisation.

recent Inquest cases

  • Representing the sisters of PC Keith Palmer, victim of the Westminster Bridge terror attack
  • Diana Princess of Wales
  • Mr Dodi Al Fayed Jean
  • Charles de Menezes
  • The 7/7 London bombings
  • Advising a family in connection with challenging the coroner’s decisions on the ambit of investigation
  • Representing interested persons in sensitive and complex inquests involving deaths in state custody and advising upon Reports to Prevent Future Death
  • Representing the family in an inquest concerning a hospital’s failure to identify flaws in the treatment provided to a family member
  • Representing a company at which a fatal accident had occurred in inquest proceedings and the related police and HSE investigation
  • Following an unsatisfactory inquest into the death of a family member in hospital, advice on an application to the Attorney General under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 for a second inquest
  • Representation of an interested person in an inquest into the death of a civilian worker in Iraq  

 

What directories have said about us

One of their main strengths is the personal touch - you get the sense the lawyers really care about the work they undertake and you as a client."

Chambers UK, A Clients Guide to the UK Legal Profession, 2019

Experience, willingness to challenge and be challenged, understanding of legislation, regulations and drafting skills."

Chambers UK, A Clients Guide to the UK Legal Profession, 2018

Clients are ‘very impressed with the degree of care’ Kingsley Napley LLP has in handling judicial reviews, public inquiries, inquests and regulatory matters."

Legal 500 UK 2017

Sources praise the group's abilities in 'sensitive, high-profile, politically inflected work' and attest that 'what is really refreshing is their commitment to their clients and the care they take'..." 

Chambers UK, A Clients Guide to the UK Legal Profession

 

 

Knowledgeable, responsive, thoughtful, professional, well networked and well connected, with a touch of elegance which goes beyond what one normally encounters in a legal firm.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

The team is small but packs a punch well above its size: they are quick, flexible, continuously on the ball and efficient.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

Legal advice is always given with an awareness and deep experience of the wider legal context (in our case, public inquiries) and a sensitivity to the client’s objectives.”

Legal 500 UK 2021

 

Latest blogs & news

The inquest process during COVID-19 restrictions

Inquest proceedings, like other legal proceedings in the UK, have been significantly affected by social distancing restrictions and advice arising from the COVID-19 crisis. This blog looks briefly at the impact of the Coronavirus Act 2020 on proceedings, and examines the Chief Coroner’s guidance notes to coroners working during the crisis.

Suicide Inquests

Inquests are always very sad affairs, and when the court is considering a suicide, it is particularly difficult for the loved ones of the person who has died. 

London Climate Action Week: Cutting through the London smog - the big question still to be answered about the death of Ella-Kissi Debrah

At the end of the inquest in 2014 into the death of Ella Kissi-Debrah, the coroner concluded that this nine year old girl suffered an asthma attack, followed by a seizure, and died after unsuccessful resuscitation. This is one possible answer to the question of how Ella died. However, there is clearly a bigger question which needs to be answered. 

The grey area between Article 2 and ordinary medical negligence? The High Court considers Parkinson and the deaths of vulnerable people in care homes

As we discussed in our recent blog, some inquests will automatically be designated ‘Article 2 inquests’ if the deceased died whilst under the control of the state. Other inquests will only become Article 2 inquests if there is evidence of systemic failures of processes and systems to protect life. Therefore a case of ordinary medical negligence would not trigger Article 2, as confirmed in Parkinson [2018] 4 W.L.R 106.

What is an 'Article 2 inquest' and why does it matter?

In June 2018 the government announced that some bereaved families should find it easier to access legal aid funding for representation at inquests. The updated guidance issued by the Lord Chancellor allows caseworkers to waive the financial means test “for cases where the state has a procedural obligation to hold an inquest under Article 2”. 

Over £450,000 for the state and £0 for PC Palmer’s family at the Westminster Bridge Inquest - how the inequality of arms at inquests looks set to continue

In February 2019 in its Final Report on the Review of Legal Aid for Inquests, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that it would not be introducing automatic public funding for families at inquests where the state is legally represented. This is hugely disappointing news for families, such as the family of PC Palmer, who have experienced the reality of an inquest where the state has the benefit of a highly experienced and well-resourced legal team while they are left to try and find lawyers prepared to represent them for free.

The High Court’s decision is (sometimes) final: the Court of Appeal confirms the decision of a coroner in relation to witnesses and the risk of harm caused by giving evidence

The husband and children of the school teacher, Ann Maguire, who was murdered by a pupil, William Cornick, in her classroom in April 2014 have been unsuccessful in their attempt to appeal against the decision of the High Court to dismiss their claim for judicial review of a decision of the Assistant District Coroner for West Yorkshire. 

Coroners to investigate still born deaths

Today, the Health Secretary announced “a new maternity strategy to reduce the number of stillbirths. This strategy centres on the investigation of still birth deaths by the new Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch but it also included a planned change in the law to allow coroners to investigate full term still birth deaths. Currently there is no requirement for a doctor to refer a still birth death to the local coroner.

Legal update: When an inquest is still necessary after criminal proceedings in order to comply with Article 2

In the recently reported case of R (Silvera) v HM Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire [2017] EWHC 2499 (Admin), the Divisional Court looked at the investigative duties placed on the state by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the importance of the coronial process in ensuring that those duties have been met.

The Coroner’s decision is (almost always) final: the Court’s approach to judicial review of inquest proceedings

The recent decision of Mr Justice Holroyde in R oao Donald Maguire and ors v The Assistant Coroner for West Yorkshire (Eastern Area) [2017] EWHC 2039 provides a salutary reminder of just how difficult it is successfully to judicially review the ‘case management’ decisions of a coroner – in this case a decision as to which witnesses to call at an inquest – and of the costs risks of bringing such a challenge.

Recent inquest insights:

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