Verdicts / Conclusions

When we see an inquest reported in the news, it usually mentions a 'verdict' given as a few words, such as 'accident' or 'natural causes'.  Strictly speaking, following the changes to coronial law in July 2013, this isn't correct.  Rather than a verdict, the Coroner now makes 'finding of fact' about who the deceased was, when and where they died and the medical cause of their death.

The answer to the 'how the person came by their death' is known as the conclusion.  Sometimes the short labels that we are familiar with hearing are appropriate and the Coroner will use one of them.  However, he can also make up his own label or write a narrative of the facts of the case.  He will do whatever is best for your relative's unique situation.

When there is a jury at the inquest, the Coroner will make the decision about which conclusions are reasonable in law.  He would not, for example, leave the jury the option of choosing 'natural causes' if that was clearly wrong.  The jury will then choose between the conclusions they have been left.  The jury also make the findings of fact.

If there are legal representatives present in court, they will have the opportunity to comment on which conclusions they feel the Coroner should consider.