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Coroners Inquests

How long will an inquest take


How long will an inquest take

Whatever the circumstances surrounding any death, the inquest is an early (and often the only) opportunity for relatives to hear what happened. How long it may take to get those answers has been difficult to predict.

The coronial service is under tremendous pressure and bereaved relatives in some parts of the country have had to wait years for an inquest to even begin.

New rules for coroners throughout England and Wales took effect from 25th July 2013. Now the Chief Coroner for England and Wales oversees coroner services to ensure adherence to the new national code of standards designed to lead to a more efficient system of investigations and inquests.

Coroners must complete inquests within six months of being informed of a death or 'as soon as is reasonably practicable after that date'. This may take some time to implement as some parts of the country have rather longer waits than others. Any inquests that are not concluded within a year must be reported to the Chief Coroner with reasons for the delay.

The purpose of an inquest is not to determine blame it is to address the 4 questions of who died, where and when they died and how they came by their death. The conclusion, (previously called the verdict) will not identify someone as having criminal or civil liability. If there is criminal investigation into the death, the inquest will be adjourned pending the outcome of that investigation. If that investigation establishes the cause of death there will be no requirement for the inquest to be resumed.

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