Overview

Nothing can be more difficult than experiencing the death of a family member. Your world is turned upside down and you do not know where to turn or who can help. This can be especially bewildering where someone has died suddenly and unexpectedly, particularly if that death could have been avoided. 

The specialist team at Hugh James recognisethat many families have lots of unanswered questions and often the only place where they can find out what happened to their loved one and how and why they died is at an Inquest. Despite this, representation at Inquests can be difficult for families to access and sometimes they don’t find out until it is too late that they could have had someone there to ask questions on their behalf 

Hugh James is delighted to launch its Inquest Service to give families a better chance of finding the right advice and support around the Inquest process. Working in collaboration with other expert teams across the firm, several specialist charities and support agencies, the Service aims to provide holistic support to families from day 1 in the following ways: - 

  • Discussing and understanding families’ immediate needs 
  • Advising on any practical steps to be taken 
  • Investigating a potential civil claim 
  • Signposting to specialist support services 
  • Providing options for families regarding representation at an Inquest 

As well as working with families directly, the Inquest Service has been set up to help guide and advise professionals working in this area, including police Family Liaison Officers (FLOs), Homicide Case workers, Military Welfare Officers, members of the medical profession and charities.  

We are always happy to discuss the assistance we can provide without obligation so please don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can help. Initial advice and signposting are often provided by our team on a pro-bono basis (without charge). Early access to advice can often make a massive difference and give families choices they may otherwise not have, including helping them to access early financialpractical and emotional support. 

Specialist Areas

The Inquest Service can advise in any case where families have suffered bereavement including 

  • Medical Negligence 
  • Road collisions 
  • Military Combat and Training  
  • Accidents at Work 
  • Acts of Terrorism 
  • Natural Disasters 
  • Accidents abroad 
  • Murder / Manslaughter 
  • Abuse
What is an Inquest?
 

An inquest is an investigation into a death conducted by a Coroner. Inquests are only held in certain circumstances, and would be held because a Coroner determined that the cause of death was either unnatural, violent, or unexplained; or the deceased died whilst in police custody, in prison or detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. 

What is the purpose of an Inquest?
 

The purpose of an inquest is to identity the person and establish where, when and how the person has died. The information that is discovered whilst an inquest is held will be used where possible to assist in preventing future deaths. 

Why use Hugh James?
 

Our specialist solicitors are experts in representing families in civil claims where there has been a death and an inquest will be held. The team will guide the family professionally, compassionately and empathetically through the process from initial instruction, at the inquest and to the conclusion of the civil claim.  

Our other experts across the firm can also advise on the following so a client’s full legal needs can be met in-house:

  • Wills, Trusts and Power of Attorney and Court of Protection matters 
  • The Hugh James Emergency Fund 
  • Welfare Benefits  
  • Employment concerns 
  • Family law matters 
Charities and Organisations we work with
 

We work with the following charities who can also assist families affected by bereavement.

 

 

 

Key contact

Lynda is Head of the Inquest Team and Senior Associate within the Clinical Negligence Department. She has considerable experience in assisting families with inquests that relate to deaths in hospital or care homes, where medical negligence is expected. Lynda specialises in clinical negligence claims and has experience of claims for sepsis, delayed cancer diagnosis, gynaecological and obstetric negligence, surgical negligence, pressure sores and orthopaedic negligence against the NHS and private providers.

View team

Your questions answered

What is the inquest process?

 

Each inquest is a unique journey for the family. The Coroner will determine the interested parties, scope of the inquest, ensure adequate disclosure is received and obtain witness evidence. The process to reach these decisions can include a pre inquest review. The Coroner will decide the likely length of the inquest and which witnesses will be called to give evidence and which can be admitted as documentary evidence. 

The hearings are in a court room before the Coroner who will ask questions of the witnesses. Interested persons Legal representatives of any interested person will then be able to ask questions. 

If you have instructed the team at Hugh James we will represent you through the process and explain the nuances of inquest law as the matter proceeds. The inquest process will blend with the steps taken to investigate a civil claim.   

What is a Coroner’s investigation?

 

Coroners have a duty to investigate deaths to determine who, why where and when someone came about their death. In some circumstances this investigation is completed as a paper exercise in others a full hearing with witness evidence is required.   

The information discovered whilst an inquest is held will be used where possible, to assist in preventing future deaths. 

What is an Article 2 inquest?

 

An Article 2 inquest is a special category of inquest where there is a potential that the State’s duty to protect life has been breached. Article 2 does not apply in clinical deaths where there are failings that are deemed ordinary medical negligence. The failings must be a system failure of the state body to protect life. 

In other circumstances where the deceased was in the control of the state such as police custody or prison deaths, Article 2 will almost always apply. 

Funding the inquest?

 

There is no automatic right to funding for Inquests. Legal Aid may be available in some circumstances, but for medical related deaths this is very limited.  

Some insurance policies may cover inquest representation. The vast majority of healthcare related Inquests are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement or 'no win - no fee' agreement. We will discuss funding with you and advise on all of the options available to you. We can also accept instructions under a private retainer if you do not wish to pursue a civil claim, or a Conditional Fee Agreement cannot be offered. 

Quotes

Lynda has recently been mentioned in Legal 500 as "incredibly determined and inventive" and "leaves no stone unturned in trying to find a remedy for clients".

Legal 500

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Market sources describe her as "very good tactically and really energetic," while one impressed client highlights her "dedication, commitment and organisation."

Chambers & Partners UK

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I have not come across a more professional, kind & efficient individual that Lynda Reynolds. She has been amazing from the first phone call. She has made something unbearable – bearable and has meant my wife and I could continue to exist knowing she is fighting our corner

Client

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I could not be more thankful for you during the last year. Your love of your job is obvious to see. I dread to think what it would have been without you, I could not have listened to the evidence and then asked questions of the witnesses, I was in bits.

Client

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