Coroner’s inquests explained and the role of transcription

The death of a loved one is always traumatic, and even more so when the person’s death is sudden and unexpected, and may follow some circumstances that could give rise to the calling of a Coroner’s inquest. If you are expecting to be called to serve as a witness during a Coroner’s inquest, being prepared is always a positive thing. Even though a Coroner’s inquest is not seen as an adversarial situation and is seen rather more as an inquiry, it is in your best interest to know all that you can about it and about what to expect.

What you should know about a Coroner’s inquest

First of all, it is important to remember that an inquest is seen as a fact-finding mission which is performed by the Coroner following the death of a person. The inquest seeks to find out the various circumstances of the death and answer the when, the where, the how, and other questions.

Basically, a Coroner’s inquest is an inquisitorial procedure that determines who the departed person is, when they died and where, how they died, and under what circumstances.

Why is an inquest seen as a necessary procedure in some cases?

A Coroner’s inquest can be seen as necessary when the death of the person was unnatural or violent, when the person was in either police custody or in a state mental health detention centre and the like, or when the cause of the person’s death has still not been determined after the post-mortem has been performed.

What to expect when giving evidence

If you are called upon to give evidence during a Coroner’s inquest, you will be under oath. This means that you have an obligation under law to speak the truth. Although, as mentioned, a Coroner’s inquest is not an adversarial procedure, questions from certain members of the deceased’s family can be antagonistic or even hostile, and you may choose to have legal representation.

If you receive any questions from the interested parties (i.e. the deceased’s family), you can choose not to answer them. You are not obliged to answer their questions, especially if your answer would implicate you or lay blame on you.

Preparing for giving evidence in a Coroner’s inquest

You should always be trustworthy, honest, and reliable when you are called to give evidence. You also have to make sure that any documents or evidence you give that require a written statement or your signature are not misleading or false.

To help make the process easier and more organised, your facts should be set straight. It is best to prepare your statement in advance, as the Coroner would most likely ask this from you at the inquest. You will often be asked to create a report, and this is where it is also a good decision to seek help from a professional transcription service so they can assist you with your statement and transcribe your oral statement for you in the most accurate way possible.

It is in your best interest to be as clear and concise as possible when it comes to a Coroner’s inquest, as your evidence can serve to contribute to the clarity of the case, or make it necessary for the inquest to be adjourned.

Coroner’s inquests are often fully transcribed by a transcription service. Legal professionals rely heavily on the final documented account of an inquest. Should you require a Coroner’s inquest be transcribed, please contact Alphabet to discuss our services on +44 (0) 1707 260027.