Setting a date for the hearing
When an inquest is opened, you will receive a letter with details of the process leading up to the final hearing. Depending on the type of case, this is generally within 6 months after the opening hearing, but it may be sooner
Before the date is fixed, the Coroner’s Officer will telephone to check whether there are any dates such as pre-planned holidays etc to avoid. Once the Coroner has all the reports and statements, they will decide who they need to attend court and who can just have their report read out.
If there is any reason that the Coroner might need to ask questions of someone, they will be asked to attend in person. We try to keep a balance between having full and complete evidence and not taking doctors and other professionals away from patients unnecessarily.
The Coroner will often require a member of the family to attend. This will be the person who made the background statement to the Police, which means it may not be the closest relative or next of kin. If there is another closer relative, we will inform them of the date and give them the option to attend. If the Coroner does not require a member of the family, we will still inform the next of kin of the date and give them the option to attend.
All relatives, and any friends the relatives wish to invite, are welcome to attend the hearing. It is an open court. We ask the people who receive letters to inform other family members of the date.
If we ask a family member to attend court but they would prefer not to come, they can apply to be excused. They should do so in writing, giving their reasons, and the Coroner will make a decision.
The Old Courthouse