The Inquest Process
A brief guide to the Inquest process following the opening of the Inquest
THIS APPLIES ONLY TO WORCESTERSHIRE
The Inquest will be opened and adjourned for investigations to be conducted and reports to be prepared.
The Coroner will review progress in the matter on a regular basis and all interested persons will be informed of decisions made at each review. Reviews are not public hearings and no information will be made public. They will not be listed on the public website.
In the first instance the case will be adjourned for a period of eight weeks for the first review.
Where applicable the Coroner will have written to the pathologist giving him instructions about the retention of any tissue samples that were retained at the post-mortem examination.
Usually the post-mortem report is delivered to the Coroner within five weeks of the examination itself. However, if complex tests or other investigations are necessary, this may take considerably longer.
Usually the deceased will be released for burial or cremation on the day that the post mortem examination is undertaken, but there may be a delay if further tests or examinations are necessary.
The deceased will be released as soon as possible.
When the report is received the Coroner will consider it and may decide that he is able to conclude the inquest as a Document Based Inquest under Rule 37 of the Coroner’s Rules 1984.
The Inquest will not be concluded without consultation with the interested persons.
If they are content then the Coroner will fix a date and time for the final hearing which will be listed on the website. These listings will be posted on the short notice page of the website by 6.00pm the previous evening.
The Coroner’s Officer for the case will notify all the interested persons.
If it is not possible to conclude the Inquest on receipt of the post mortem, because either the Coroner’s investigations are not complete or a full hearing is necessary, with or without the attendance of witnesses, then the Coroner will consider the file and decide what should happen.
If further reviews are necessary then the Coroner will, on a regular basis, consider the progress that has been made and will give further directions to ensure that a final hearing, with witnesses being called if necessary, is arranged as quickly as possible.
There are some cases that take a considerable amount of time to enquire into.
All files are monitored regularly to ensure that all the appropriate steps are taken and that delays are kept to a minimum.
As soon as the Coroner is ready to hear the Inquest the Coroner’s Officer will contact the interested persons and the listing details will be available on the website.
If the Inquest is complex, reports are not forthcoming, or, it appears that the adjournment is continuing for too long, the Coroner will fix a date when all interested persons, including family and any legal representatives will be required to attend court for a formal review hearing. This will be a public hearing.
At this review the Coroner will deal with any outstanding matters and will give such further directions as necessary to prepare the case for a final hearing.
Usually the Coroner, in conjunction with the family and legal representatives will, at the pre-inquest review, decide upon the scope of the Inquest, the evidence to be heard and the witnesses to be called at the final hearing.
The date for the final hearing will usually be set at this pre-inquest review. You will receive written confirmation of the date.
Any properly interested person who wishes to inspect or receive copies of any statement or document to be considered at the Inquest may apply to the Coroner.
This is the resumption of the adjourned Inquest and is a public hearing.
When interested persons arrive at court they will be shown around the Court and given an explanation of what is to happen.
Generally all witnesses will be in court during the inquest.
The family of the deceased and all other properly interested persons will have the opportunity to give evidence and to ask questions of the witnesses who are called.
The Coroner will hear all the evidence and then make the findings of fact that are required; he will also announce his conclusion about the death (the verdict).
On Conclusion of the Inquest
The Coroner will write to the family or the executors confirming his conclusion and explaining the Registration process.
The Coroner will write to the Pathologist instructing him/her to follow the instructions given by the family before the Inquest was opened.