An inquest is a public hearing, conducted by a Coroner in a Coroner’s Court, which seeks to establish who the deceased was and how, when and where they came by their death.
Whilst this process can be traumatic for the bereaved family, the search to find out what happened is important in helping them to understand and make sense of their loss.
The Government is determined to ensure that bereaved families are properly supported and able to participate in the inquest process. This includes providing legal aid in cases where it may be needed.
It is important that people have confidence in every part of the justice system. The legal aid scheme is designed to make sure that those who are most vulnerable, and who have no other means of funding support, are provided with assistance.
It is in this light that in 2017 the then Lord Chancellor, the Rt Hon. David Lidington MP, announced that the Ministry of Justice would conduct a review of the current availability of legal aid at inquests.
This document serves as the final report of the review. It examines the evidence submitted as part of the review, considers the key concerns identified by respondents, and identifies potential areas for improvement to the inquest process as a whole.
In addition, the Ministry of Justice has also completed a separate post-implementation review (PIR) of Part 1 the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), which made changes to the provision of legal aid.
The Ministry of Justice has also completed a PIR of Part 2 of LASPO, which focuses on civil litigation costs.