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What happens at an Inquest ?

An inquest is meant to find out facts – the ‘how,’ ‘when’ and ‘where,’ not the why – and are not like criminal trials. The coroner and legal representatives should treat witnesses, especially the bereaved, with care and respect. The coroner will begin the inquest and if there is a jury, the coroner will explain their duties and that they must establish the answer to the questions: who the person was; where they died; when they died and how they came by their death.

The coroner will then call witnesses. If a family member is giving evidence, they will usually do so first. The witness will be questioned by the coroner, before you or your legal representative as well as representatives of other interested persons is given the opportunity to question the witness. The jury are also allowed to ask questions. 

Sometimes witnesses won’t attend the inquest, but their statements will be read out by the coroner. After all the witnesses have been questioned, the coroner sums up the evidence. This is why it is important for you to ask the right questions during the inquest so that the jury (if there is one) understands your concerns. Finally, the coroner or jury will give their verdict. 

Taken from at-the-inquest on the Inquest site.