What role do relatives have?
Certain people have a special status in coronial law. They are known as “properly interested persons” (PIPs) and have the right to become involved in the inquest in certain ways.
Who are classed as “properly interested persons” (PIPs)?
A deceased person's husband, wife, civil partner, parent or child is automatically a “PIP”. The Coroner will also usually regard brothers, sisters and long-term partners as PIPs, and if the next of kin is a more distant relative such as a grandchild, the Coroner will usually grant them that status as well.
What information are PIPS able to access before the hearing?
Before the inquest hearing, PIPs can request copies of all the reports and statements, as explained in the section on disclosure. They do not have an automatic right to this information, but the Coroner normally agrees to disclosure.
PIP's right to ask questions at the hearning:
At the hearing, PIPs may ask questions of the witnesses. The Coroner will let them know when they may do so. The usual format is that the witness will go through their statement or report, the Coroner will ask his questions and then give PIPs the opportunity to ask theirs.
PIP leagal representation:
PIPs have the right to be legally represented if they choose.
After the inquest, they may request copies of the reports and statement if they did not obtain them beforehand. As previously explained, there may be a cost involved in that.
Other people present at the inquest may also be granted PIP status for different reasons. If so, they will also be given the opportunity to ask questions.