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Specialist inquest solicitors

The Hugh James Inquest team are a discrete part of the larger clinical negligence team, drawing on their experience in large complex medical negligence claims and the cross over into inquests involving deaths arising from clinical care.

In England and Wales most deaths do not require an inquest, but in some circumstances a Coroner will open an inquest if a death is deemed unnatural or the circumstances leading to the death are unknown. In hospital situations, this is often if there has been an incident or failure resulting in death and a full investigation is required. Alternatively, some families contact a Coroner to say they are concerned about the circumstances leading to a death and want an inquest to be opened.

We will often be contacted after a family has been informed there is to be an inquest, and to assist with representation. In some circumstances when we are investigating a civil claim, we may contact the Coroner on our client’s behalf to request an inquest is opened if the circumstances indicate it would be appropriate.

We have acted for families that have suffered bereavements as a result of neonatal deaths, falls in hospitals, complications from surgical procedures, failure to conduct procedures leading to death, deaths arising from mental health conditions and deaths in care homes. Inquests have included those with a jury, multiple interested parties and Article 2 inquests.

What is an inquest?

An inquest is an investigation into a death conducted by a Coroner. Inquests are only held in certain circumstances and would be held because a Coroner determined that the cause of death was either unnatural, violent, or unexplained; or the deceased died whilst in police custody, in prison or detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

What is the purpose of an inquest?

The purpose of an inquest is to identity the person and establish where, when and how the person has died. The information that is discovered whilst an inquest is held will be used where possible to assist in preventing other deaths.

Key contact

Lynda Reynolds


Lynda is a Partner and Head of the Inquest Team that forms part of the Clinical Negligence Department in the London office. She has considerable experience in assisting families with inquests that relate to deaths in hospital or care homes, where medical negligence is suspected.

She has been instructed on Article 2 inquests, inquests with juries and complicated medical inquests where numerous experts have been instructed. Where necessary she will make submissions on the Coroner’s power to issue Prevention of Future Deaths reports. Her inquest role combined with subsequent civil claims ensures that she is a specialist on Fatal Accident Act Claims. She is recognised in both UK Chambers & Partners and Legal 500.

In addition to her role in the Inquest team Lynda has a caseload of complex clinical negligence matters which include cerebral palsy, brain injuries, spinal injuries and cauda equina claims.

Lynda has recently been mentioned in Legal 500 as ‘incredibly determined and inventive’ and ‘leaves no stone unturned in trying to find a remedy for clients’.

The Legal 500

Market sources describe her as “very good tactically and really energetic,” while one impressed client highlights her “dedication, commitment and organisation”.

Chambers & Partners

I could not be more thankful for you during the last year. Your love of your job is obvious to see. I dread to think what it would have been without you, I could not have listened to the evidence and then asked questions of the witnesses, I was in bits.


I have not come across a more professional, kind & efficient individual than Lynda Reynolds. She has been amazing from the first phone call. She has made something unbearable – bearable and has meant my wife and I could continue to exist knowing she is fighting our corner.

Client testimonial

Hugh James are particularly strong in clinical negligence and inquest work.

The Legal 500

Our recent experience

Our team of experts have experience in a wide range of matters when dealing with inquest claims.

Some of our recent cases and experience includes:

  • Successfully quashed the inquest of Michael McVey dec’d which was originally conducted in July 2013 – read more about this case here
  • Representing the family of a two-day old baby that underwent avoidable and fatal abdominal surgery
  • Representing the family of a 39-year-old whose sepsis was not diagnosed in A&E and was discharged home. When he readmitted later, he suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away
  • Representing families who have suffered complications during labour resulting in neonatal deaths, including sepsis, overuse of Syntocinon, cancelled elective caesarean section and the management of pre-eclampsia
  • Suicide whilst under the care of mental health services
  • Accidental injury in a care home
  • Surgical complications leading to death
  • Falls in hospitals resulting in fractures and death

Why use us?

Our specialist solicitors have expertise in representing families that are pursuing a civil claim where there is to be an inquest. The same team will have conduct of the matter from initial instruction, during the inquest and to conclusion of the civil claim. We will provide you with continuity of solicitor and comprehensive advice on all aspects of the matter from start to finish.

Our assistance will include:

  • Advising on the merits of a clinical negligence claim
  • Advising you on funding the clinical negligence claim and inquest
  • Obtaining disclosure of documents
  • Sorting and collating relevant documents
  • Liaising with the Coroner and other interested parties.
  • Providing representation at the inquest and any preliminary hearings
  • Assistance with preparing witness statements
  • Advice on the law that applies to inquests and subsequent civil claims
  • Making submissions and advising you on the Coroner’s conclusions
  • Making submissions on Prevention of Future Deaths Reports
  • Specialist advice on Fatal Accident Act Claims at the conclusion of the inquest

Your questions answered

Each inquest is a unique journey for the family. The Coroner will determine the interested parties, scope of the inquest, ensure adequate disclosure is received and obtain witness evidence. The process to reach these decisions can include a pre inquest review. The Coroner will decide the likely length of the inquest and which witnesses will be called to give evidence and which can be admitted as documentary evidence.

The hearings are in a court room before the Coroner who will ask questions of the witnesses. Interested persons Legal representatives of any interested person will then be able to ask questions.

If you have instructed the team at Hugh James, we will represent you through the process and explain the nuances of inquest law as the matter proceeds. The inquest process will blend with the steps taken to investigate a clinical negligence claim.

Coroners have a duty to investigate deaths to determine who, why where and when someone came about their death. In some circumstances this investigation is completed as a paper exercise in others a full hearing with witness evidence is required.

The information discovered whilst an inquest is held will be used where possible, to assist in preventing other deaths.

An Article 2 inquest is a special category of inquest where there is a potential that the State’s duty to protect life has been breached. Article 2 does not apply in clinical deaths where there are failings that are deemed ordinary medical negligence. The failings must be a system failure of the state body to protect life.

In other circumstances where the deceased was in the control of the state such as police custody or prison deaths, Article 2 will almost always apply.

There is no automatic right to funding for Inquests. Legal Aid may be available in some circumstances, but for medical related deaths this is very limited.

Some insurance policies may cover inquest representation. The vast majority of healthcare related Inquests are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement or ‘no win – no fee’ agreement. We will discuss funding with you and advise on all of the options available to you. We can also accept instructions under a private retainer if you do not wish to pursue a civil claim, or a Conditional Fee Agreement cannot be offered.

Next steps

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