Can I Challenge a Coroner’s Decision?
17 January 2020
A coroner's decision is usually final and challenging this decision can be very difficult, but there are some situations in which it may be possible to do so. It's best to seek advice from a coroner and inquest solicitor during the coroner and inquest process, to reduce the risk of needing to challenge the decision further down the line.
If you feel that the coroner acted unreasonably, that they've acted outside of their powers or that they have failed to do something they should have done, you may be able to challenge their decision. It's rare to be successful when challenging a coroner's decision though. You would need to seek advice from a lawyer specialising in public law if you did want to take this route.
The most effective way to avoid this situation is to seek legal advice and representation from a coroner and inquest solicitor during the coroner and inquest process. This way, you can ensure that all the right questions are asked and addressed at the time. Once a decision has already been reached, your only option will be to formally challenge this.
Challenging a Coroner's Decision
If you believe you have grounds to challenge a coroner's decision, you may be able to make an application under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988. Our coroner and inquest solciitors cannot help with a section 13 challenge, but we can help with representation during the coroner's process to minimise the risk of needing to challenge this decision.
While there is not a formal deadline for making a section 13 application, it's advisable to do this as soon as possible after the decision has been reached. You would need to seek advice from a lawyer specialising in public law. In addition, the Attorney General would need to consent to this type of application being made.
An application under section 13 of the Coroners Act must be made to the High Court, which will ultimately decide whether or not to uphold the coroner's decision.
How Will the High Court Decide Whether to Overturn the Coroner's Decision?
The High Court will review the application and they may decide that an investigation into the death should be held by the same or another coroner. If the Court is satisfied that the coroner is refusing to hold a necessary inquest or investigation, or that there are shortcomings in the inquest or investigation, then they are likely to uphold the application.
Shortcomings in the inquest or investigation could include the rejection of evidence, evidence of fraud, irregularity in the proceedings or insufficient inquiries being made. If new evidence comes to light after the inquest or investigation has completed then this could also support a challenge.
If the High Court does uphold the application then they may quash the inquest findings and order a new inquest to be held.
Support from a Coroner and Inquest Solicitor
The coroner and inquest process can be a complex one to navigate, and it's important that you understand this process. Our Coroner and Inquest Solicitors can provide comprehensive legal advice and support throughout the coroner's process, as well as represent you at the inquest hearing. This can help to ensure that the right outcome is reached, minimising the risk of needing to challenge the coroner's decision.