Appealing an Inquest Conclusion or Coroner’s Decision

Inquest Representation ServiceIf you are dissatisfied with the outcome of an inquest, you might be able to challenge the outcome. There are two possible routes to doing so. First, by applying to the High Court for permission to challenge the conclusio by way of judicial review. A judicial review must be brought promptly and in any event within three months, unless the court exceptionally extends the time in which an application should be lodged. The alternatove route is to bring a challenge in the Divisional Court, if there is new information that would cause the original conlcusion of the inquest to be called into doubt. There is no time-limit when bringing an appeal by this route. The latter procedure can also be used to challeneg a coroner who has refused to hold an inquest. Below, we describe both routes of appeal.

Judicial Review

Where a coroner has misdirected themselves or their jury such that it has had a deleterious impact on the fairness or lawfulness of the proceedings, or the coroner has acted with bias or animosity, it may be possible to bring a challenge by way of judicial review (pursuant to Part 54 CPR). If a coroner fails to adhere to the law, rules and regulations of an inquest, such conduct might be found to be ultra vires. If a coroner excludes evidence that should have been admitted, or admits evidence that should have been excluded, which had a direct and inapprioriate impact on the conclusion recorded by a coroner or returned by a jury, it may be possible to argue that the coroners court acted irrationally or perversely. Procedural unfairness might also be another ground, The first step is to write to the coroner to express concern, and obtain the views of the coroner if they are willing to engage. If, after the pre-action process the coroner has not responded, an application for permission to bring a judicial review will need to be lodged. If the High Court gives permission, the case will move to a full hearing to consider the issues. Coroners might acknowledge a procedural failing and not actively resist the application. It is quite common for coroners to make a submission without personally attending.

Statutory Appeal: S.13 Coroners Act 1988

To appeal a coroner’s conclusion by this route (S.13 Coroners Act 1988), there must usually be new evience that calls into question the original inquest conclusion. Permission must first be obtained by obtaining a fiat from the Attorney General. If they refuse to grant a fiat, case law holds that there can be no challenge to the Administrative Court: R (Lyttle) v (1) Attorney General (2) HM Senior Coroner for Preston [2018] EWHC, (May 2018). However, if permission is granted, two judges in the divisional court will consider the application and make an order, either dismissing or allowing the application. If the application is successful a new inquest is likely to be ordered. However, even if there are merits the could does not have to direct that a new inquest should take place.

Note that in relation to both types of appeals, there are costs risks to the losing party. A losing party will usually have to pay the oppposing party’s costs. And the fees of the applicant’s lawyers will also have to be met. 

Do call Inquest Representation Service on 033 00 77 00 97 for more information about how we may be able to assist you in appealing an inquest conclusion or. All calls are treated in confidence and are without obligation.



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