The Hugh James Inquest team are a discrete part of the larger clinical negligence team, drawing on their experience in large complex medical negligence claims and the cross over into inquests involving deaths arising from clinical care.
In England and Wales most deaths do not require an inquest, but in some circumstances a Coroner will open an inquest if a death is deemed unnatural or the circumstances leading to the death are unknown. In hospital situations, this is often if there has been an incident or failure resulting in death and a full investigation is required. Alternatively, some families contact a Coroner to say they are concerned about the circumstances leading to a death and want an inquest to be opened.
We will often be contacted after a family has been informed there is to be an inquest, and to assist with representation. In some circumstances when we are investigating a civil claim, we may contact the Coroner on our client’s behalf to request an inquest is opened if the circumstances indicate it would be appropriate.
We have acted for families that have suffered bereavements as a result of neonatal deaths, falls in hospitals, complications from surgical procedures, failure to conduct procedures leading to death, deaths arising from mental health conditions and deaths in care homes. Inquests have included those with a jury, multiple interested parties and Article 2 inquests.
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 other deaths.