Other non-medical witnesses
This page is for any professionals expect for doctors, registered nurses and midwives who have had contact with a deceased person. This may include healthcare assistants, support workers or service managers. It also includes people who had contact other than in the context of their employment, such as eye-witnesses to an accident.
The Coroner has asked you to come to court because he feels you may have information that can help to explain how someone came by their death. You have probably already made a statement or written a report. The Coroner requires you to also give verbal evidence and be available to answer questions.
Setting a date and time for inquest:
You will have received a letter with the date and time of the inquest. Please complete the reply slip and return it to the office. Occasionally, we may need to serve a formal witness summons, either in the post or personally delivered. Again, fill in the reply slip and send it back.
How to find us?
View details of how to find us.
Arriving at the inquest:
Please arrive 10 minutes before the hearing is due to start. There is no formal dress code, but we ask people to dress smartly or in uniform out of respect for the family of the deceased person
Being called to the witness stand:
The purpose of the inquest is to find the facts about who the deceased person was, when and where they died and how they came by their death. It does not look at any issues of responsibility or blame. The way the hearing is run and the types of questions you will be asked reflect this. They will be straightforward and factual and all you will need to do is say what happened as you remember it.
When the time comes to give your evidence, you will need to take an oath or affirmation that you will be truthful. You can do this on the holy book of your choice or in a non-religious way.
The Coroner will then take you through the statement you have previously made. He may ask you to read it out, or he may read it to you and give you the chance to add, confirm or change anything. After that, he will ask any questions that he has, and give properly interested persons in court the opportunity to ask their questions. Properly interested persons include the family of the deceased and possibly other people depending on the circumstances of the death. If you are asked something you do not remember or that is outside your area of skill or knowledge, it is fine to say so.
If you need to give technical or medical information, please explain what you have said so that the family and other non-specialists in court will understand.
In some circumstances, it is possible that if a witness answers a certain question honestly, they may incriminate
themselves. This means that they will admit they have done something that is against the law. If a witness is asked this sort of question, the Coroner will advise that they do not need to answer it
Leaving the inquest:
Once you have given your evidence, you will usually be free to go. Please ask the Coroner for permission before you leave as he may have extra questions. If you wish to stay and see the conclusion of the inquest, you are welcome to do so.
If you have spent money on your travel to court or taken time off work and lost pay, you are entitled to claim it back.
If you have any other questions, or would like to arrange a visit to the court, please call the office.