Can I Challenge a Coroner’s Decision?

17 January 2020

While a coroner's decision is usually final, there are some situations in which it may be possible to challenge this decision. This could be the case 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.

The most effective way to avoid this situation is to seek legal advice and representation 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.

There are strict time limits if you wish to challenge a coroner's decision, so it's important to act quickly. The process of challenging a coroner's decision can be complex and we would always recommend that you seek independent legal advice from a Coroner and Inquest Solicitor before taking the first step.

How to Challenge 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. This process can be complex and we would recommend seeking advice from a Coroner and Inquest Solicitor before taking this route.

While there is not a formal deadline for making an application of this nature, it's advisable to do this as soon as possible after the decision has been reached. 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.

We can also provide advice, guidance and support if you are thinking about challenging the coroner's decision, and advise you on the best course of action to take. We can provide guidance on whether we believe you have grounds to make an application under Section 13 of the Coroners Act. If you do then we can help and support you through this process.

If a civil claim is then brought, our Serious Injury Solicitors can also take on this claim on your behalf. We can deal with most serious and fatal injury claims on a no win no fee basis.

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