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Inquests held before a jury

What happens when an inquest has to be held by the coroner sitting with a jury.

Most inquests will just be heard before the coroner, but the law requires certain inquests to be held by the coroner sitting with a jury. In such cases, it is the jury who decides the verdict.

This type of inquest includes:

  • deaths in police or prison custody
  • railway or air accidents
  • deaths that occur at a workplace.

Near relatives of the deceased and interested persons (as defined by the coroner's rules) may ask questions of the witnesses. If they wish, they can be represented by a lawyer. With the coroner's consent, they may alternatively be represented by a friend or a member of a trade union/professional body.

Questions must be related to who the deceased was and how, when and where he / she came by his / her death.

Although the coroner has to hold the inquest in accordance with certain rules and requirements, they will try to be as polite and sympathetic as possible to everyone attending the inquest.

Information for jurors

The coroner will send a leaflet explaining the duties of a juror at an inquest and provide any other relevant information. They will also provide an indication, in advance, of how long the jury service will last.