Help & Advice First Steps


An inquest is a formal court hearing which examines the circumstances of any death which is unnatural, unexplained or happened in circumstances in which the law requires there to be an inquest, such as a death in custody or as a result of an industrial accident.

Inquests differ from other courts because there is no prosecution or defence. The purpose is to investigate who has died, when, where and how they died. An inquest cannot decide that any individual or company is to blame for the death.

How long after a death an inquest is held varies greatly and depends on the complexity of the circumstances to be investigated. You will be kept up to date about progress but please be patient with the coroner’s staff – they are often waiting for information from other people. 

Occasionally families choose to have legal representation at an inquest but legal aid is not yet available for this. After an inquest the death is registered automatically and you can purchase death certificates from the registrar.

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