An inquest is a legal investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding a persons death, including how, when and why the death occurred.

In some cases,an inquestwill also try to establishthe deceased person's identity.

The investigation is held in public at a coroners court in cases where:

  • a death was sudden, violent or unnatural
  • a death occurred in prison or police custody
  • the cause of death is still unknown after a post-mortem (where a body is examined after death)

A coroner's court is a legal body that helps determine how, when and why a person died. Coroners are independent judicial officers who are usually lawyers or doctors with appropriate training in law.

Unlike criminal trials, inquests don't try to establish whether anyone was responsible for a persons death. Evidence is given by witnesses but there's no prosecution or defence.

When an inquest is held, the coroner must inform the deceased person's next of kin or personal representative.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 24 Nov 2016