Coroners can now move Inquests

Coroners can now move Inquests (from February 2013)

Coroners will be able to hold inquests at different locations in England and Wales following a law change put in place by Justice Minister Helen Grant.

The change to the Coroners Act 1988 means coroners will no longer be restricted to holding inquests within their own district. Coroners will now be able to relocate an inquest if it is in the best interest of the bereaved family and others, such as witnesses.

The move is part of a series of reforms to create a coroner system that puts the needs of bereaved families at the heart of the process and ensures consistently high standards across the country.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said:

The anguish of losing a loved one in circumstances that require an inquest is unimaginably heartbreaking for any family.

“We want to ensure inquests can happen without unnecessary delays so families can find closure. That is why I am granting coroners the power to move inquests – at their discretion – to the most suitable location. This will bring about greater flexibility, more timely hearings and some relief to families.”

The inquest process:

  • An inquest is a fact-finding inquiry into a violent or unnatural death, a sudden death of unknown cause, or a death which has occurred in prison to establish who has died, and how, when and where the death occurred.
  • The inquest is conducted by a coroner, and s/he hears evidence relating to the body and the circumstances of the death of a deceased person.
  • The inquest is a form of public inquiry to determine the truth. It is not a trial so there are no formal parties.
  • The inquest verdict cannot be framed in such a way as to appear to determine matters of criminal liability on the part of a named person or civil liability.
  • Section 8(3) of the 1988 Act sets out the circumstances in which an inquest must be held with a jury.