Practice Areas

Inquests

efficient clerks and extremely able members with solid knowledge of inquests and inquiries

Legal 500

Chambers’ particular expertise in this area is reflected in regular instructions to act for Coroners. We provide a service both as Counsel to inquests and in coronial judicial reviews, often in the leading cases in the field. Some Members of Chambers sit part time as Assistant Coroners.

Member of Chambers have particularly extensive experience in handling all kinds of military, prison / detention centre, national security, health and social care, aviation, insurance/road traffic and health and safety related deaths. In these and other areas, we act both for the bereaved families and for the individuals, organisations or Government Departments whose conduct is under scrutiny. A group of practitioners in Chambers accept instructions to act pro bono for bereaved families in cases involving the Armed Forces through the Royal British Legion scheme.

High profile inquests include those into Hillsborough, the 7th July 2005 London Bombings, Alexander Litvinenko, the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed, the Deepcut deaths and many other major military inquests.

Chambers’ coronial judicial review work encompasses the representation of Coroners, claimants and affected interested persons. Members of chambers provide seminars and training.

Naturally much of our work in this field links with our expertise in Health and Safety matters and in Inquiries.

Aviation: Chambers’ aviation work has expanded in recent years to include the full range of civil aviation and military aviation fatalities. Members of Chambers have been instructed in the Vauxhall Helicopter Crash (2015), the Red Arrows ejection seat fatality, the Inquests into 2 deaths of airline crew said to be caused or related to cabin air toxicity (both likely to be held in the course of 2016) as well as military aviation deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were instructed in the Morecambe Bay helicopter crash in 2006 which killed 7 men travelling to an offshore gas platform (acting for various families on instructions from the trade union) and cases such as the inquest into the death of a Cesna pilot in an air crash at RAF St Mawgan. Six Members of Chambers also advised in a departmental review into the loss of a Nimrod aircraft and its 14 crew over Afghanistan.

Military: Members of Chambers have appeared in very many of the highest profile inquests in this field. Recent examples are Cpl Ellement (self-inflicted death following allegations of bullying and rape) and the deaths of James Dunsby, Edward Maher and Craig Roberts (2015) who died as a result of heat illness in the course of SAS selection training on the Brecon Beacons. We have wide experience of appearing and advising in relation to operational deaths, equipment supply and failure issues, and cases involving highly sensitive evidence and claims for public interest immunity.

Prisons: The prison cases that we have been instructed on typically involve Article 2 ECHR issues, appearing on behalf of Government departments, prisons (both state and privately run), and health care providers. Chambers has appeared in a number of prisoner-on-prisoner killing cases, including hostage situations. We appear in many of the most complex cases of self-inflicted deaths in prisons, including advising Coroners. Increasingly, members of Chambers are working in the expanding field of deaths occurring shortly after release from custody, involving the prison, court and probation services such as the death of Raoul Moat’s first victim.

Police: Our work in this field includes issues arising out of police shootings (including Mark Duggan), police chases and deaths in custody, all of which inevitably attract media attention. We were engaged in advisory work connected with the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Chambers has appeared in high profile cases involving the police use of ‘Taser’ (the deaths of Jordan Begley and Dale Burns) and also represent the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Transport: We frequently advise in the aftermath of road collisions, some entailing criticism of road layout, signalling and the management of road works. Members of Chambers have also been instructed into deaths involving ‘Boris Bikes’ and the new London cycle lanes.  We also give advice on issues relating to motor racing. Some of us have considerable experience in the railway industry, following involvement in several railway disaster cases.

Workplace: We have been instructed following fatalities workplaces as diverse as construction, steel, utilities, chemicals, quarrying, manufacturing and facilities management. Chambers appeared in the inquest into the death of Rene Tkakic (2015) (only fatality on the Crossrail project)

Medical: Typical cases that we have been involved with arise out of deaths in hospitals, nursing homes and residential homes, as well as deaths under the care of General Practitioners. Cases have involved the prescription of drugs, alleged delay in arranging treatment and failure to respond appropriately to a patient’s suicidal ideation.

Disease: We have acted over mesothelioma allegedly contracted due to asbestos exposure in buildings decades prior to the death, and in relation to BSE.