Legal Aid Funding For Representation At Inquests

Published date13 October 2022
Subject MatterGovernment, Public Sector, Human Rights
Law FirmLanyon Bowdler
AuthorClaire Vale

On 3 October 2022, the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency published guidance for bereaved families on obtaining legal aid funding for legal representation at an inquest into the death of a family member. This can be found on the website. The guide also discusses when an inquest is needed, what an inquest seeks to answer, accessing Legal Help to prepare for an inquest, having a legal representative at an inquest hearing and other sources of support at inquests.

A Coroner's inquest into the death of a family member is an important process that is intended to find out answers to questions including who was the deceased person, where and when they died, and, most importantly, how they died. An inquest is a fact-finding process designed to enable the Coroner to answer the above questions. The Parties to an inquest are called Interested Persons and they assist the Coroner in carrying out their duties.

Funding for representation at an inquest is not generally available because an inquest is a relatively informal inquisitorial process, rather than an adversarial one. The role of the coroner is to question witnesses and to actively elicit explanations as to how the deceased came by their death. An inquest is not a trial. There are no defendants, only Interested Persons, and witnesses are not expected to present legal arguments

There are two types of legal aid funding available relating to inquests:

  1. Legal Help - legal advice and assistance when preparing for an inquest
  2. Exceptional Case Funding - legal representation at an inquest

Legal Help may be available from a solicitor to help a close family member of the deceased prepare for an inquest, but it does not cover the cost of legal representation at the inquest itself. The person applying for Legal Help usually has to meet certain financial...

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