Under a revised legal framework inquests will be completed within six months following a new code of standards for coroners which is now in place. The change has followed many years of complaints and delays experienced in inquests being heard resulting in some bereaved families having to wait more than a year for a hearing.
The aim of an inquest is to establish who has died, and how, when and where the death occurred. They are not trials, and so do not determine civil or criminal liability but often need to be undertaken before any civil action can be properly pursued.
Claims arising from the loss of a loved one come at an already very difficult time and can add to the trauma, stress and sense of loss. If an inquest is to be held, and subsequently continually delayed, the strain is often compounded.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence and personal injury team at Penningtons Solicitors LLP, commented: "A faster, more efficient process will allow families earlier access to potential information and an ability to raise legitimate questions regarding the circumstances of death. It will also enable specialists such as ourselves to be in a better position to advise on the findings and any further action that may be appropriate from a civil claim perspective."