There are few things worse than losing a loved one, particularly if it appears that their death could have been caused, or might have been prevented, by agents of the state including doctors, social workers, prison staff or the police. Where agents of the state are implicated the coroner is usually under a duty to conduct an investigation and thereafter hold an inquest to establish the identity of the deceased person and where, when and how they came by their death.

Family members of the deceased have a right to be involved in the investigation and inquest. They may ask questions, either directly or through a representative, of the witnesses called to give evidence, and make representations to the coroner. Family members understandably often struggle to engage properly with what is a complicated and unfamiliar process, and one in which the agents of the state concerned are invariably represented by lawyers.

We have experience in advising and representing the families of those whose death occurred in police custody, after police contact, in prison, in psychiatric hospitals, in care homes, in hospitals and abroad to fully engage with the inquest process.

We advise about challenging the decisions of coroners through the process of judicial review. In 2008 we acted for the family in the case of Moss v HM Coroner for the North and South Districts of Durham and Darlington [2008] EWHC 2940 (Admin) in which the family successfully challenged the coroner’s refusal to reopen inquests relating to deaths following the prescription of high doses of painkillers to elderly patients by a GP, following unsuccessful criminal proceedings against the GP. The case established the status of GPs as agents of the State for the purpose of Article 2 European Convention on Human Rights.

We provide advice about complaints procedures and claims for compensation arising out of deaths.

Please contact our Inquest team to discuss your case in more detail onĀ a no obligation basis.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

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