No Extension of Legal Aid for Inquests26/02/19
The government has issued a final report following its long-anticipated review of legal aid for inquests. Campaigners for an extension of legal aid to encompass all inquests where the state is represented will be disappointed.
The key takeaways from this report include:
- Non means-tested legal aid will not be introduced
- ‘Other’ options for funding legal support where the state has state-funded representation will be investigated
- The evidence obtained for the report will be used to review the thresholds for legal aid entitlement
- The government has signalled a number of intentions around support for bereaved families and the inquest process itself. They include the way Coroners initiate contact with bereaved families; guidance about the Coroner Service and (current) eligibility for legal aid; court facilities and support services; and the conduct of lawyers.
The NHS, police forces and the prison service are likely to have seen an increase in the number of inquests where the bereaved are represented following the Lord Chancellor’s 2018 guidance changing the way legal aid for representation for families at Article 2 ECHR inquests is decided. In future, legal aid will continue to be available only via the Exceptional Case Funding Scheme. This enables legal aid to be granted for Article 2 inquests (particularly where the deceased was detained or in custody) or where there is considered to be a wider public interest. Ensuring staff are supported, seeking legal representation at an early stage and preparing thoroughly for the inquest will continue to be vital.
How Capsticks can help
Capsticks is a market leader in the healthcare and inquest field and is ranked in the top tier for inquests and clinical negligence work by the leading client guides for law, including Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. If you require inquest representation or would like to discuss any inquest related issues please contact Philip Hatherall, Tracey Lucas or Ian Cooper.