An Inquest is a hearing in a public court, conducted by a Coroner.
The purpose of an Inquest is to establish the facts surrounding a person’s death. A Coroner has three questions to address:
(1) where, (2) when and (3) how a person came about their death.
Sometimes, the scope of an Inquest needs to be widened to incorporate the provisions of the Human Rights Act. This is often the case where a person has died whilst under the care of a State-run organisation (e.g. an NHS Hospital or a Mental Health Trust).
The Coroner will usually call witnesses who may be able to assist in determining the cause of death.
The family of the deceased and/or their legal representatives can ask questions of the witnessed called by the Coroner to give evidence.
Whilst the Coroner has the final say as to which witnesses are called, representations can be made on the family’s behalf for particular witnesses and other evidence to be included in the Inquest.