INQUESTS & INQUIRIES
Serjeants’ Inn has substantial expertise in inquests and inquiries. Described by The Legal 500 as a “first port of call” in this field, we are ranked as a tier one set for the field, with ten members of the team ranked as leading barristers in the field. Bridget Dolan QC leads the team.
We have specialist counsel of all levels of call, ensuring that we have the breadth of experience to suit every client’s needs and budget. We cover all aspects of coronial law with members advising and representing bereaved families, individuals, statutory bodies and corporate entities in cases covering a vast range of complex legal and factual issues. These frequently include high profile Art. 2 inquests.
This wide expertise in inquests combined with the fact that we are a leading set in the fields of clinical negligence, police and regulatory law means that we are well placed to advise and represent parties through all stages of the civil litigation that can often follow an inquest.
The Inquest Law Reports are edited by two barristers from Serjeants’ Inn Chambers, Bridget Dolan QC and Briony Ballard, and the Medical Law Reports are also written and edited by a team from Chambers led by Angus Moon QC. Members of Chambers often provide training for lawyers and staff from public bodies (such as the police and health & social care professionals) and others on all aspects of coronial law.
Our members regularly act pro bono, particularly for bereaved families through the Bar Pro Bono Unit and other charitable organisations. Furthermore, some members of our team have public access accreditation and so can accept instructions directly from lay clients.
Our Inquests team also writes a popular and frequently updated Inquest law blog, which can be found here.
Barristers from Serjeants’ Inn have represented interested persons in many lengthy and high-profile inquests attracting intense media scrutiny. Examples include:
- the inquest into the death of Pte Cheryl James at Deepcut Army Barracks – Bridget Dolan QC and Jamie Mathieson appeared as counsel to the inquest, while John Beggs QC, Paul Spencer, Oliver Williamson and Cecily White were also instructed;
- the Hillsborough inquests – John Beggs QC, Michael Mylonas QC, Paul Spencer, James Berry, Oliver Williamson and Aaron Rathmell were instructed on behalf of five different parties;
- the inquests into the deaths of the forty people killed in the Al-Quaeda siege of a gas plant in In Amenas, Algeria. Bridget Dolan QC appeared as counsel to the inquest, while Katie Gollop QC and Claire Watson acted for core participants;
- the inquest into the death of Connor Sparrowhawk – Fiona Paterson represented the hospital and Malcolm Fortune, Alan Jenkins, Michael Walsh and Oliver Williamson were instructed by four other parties;
- the inquest into the death of Raoul Moat – John Beggs QC represented Northumbria Police;
- the inquests following the 7th July 2005 London bombings (John Beggs QC, James Watson QC, Sarah Simcock).
In addition to appearing in coroners’ courts, our members appear regularly in judicial review proceedings arising from inquests in the Administrative Court and are instructed as ‘counsel to the inquest’ by coroners.
Our barristers have a wealth of experience of appearing in and chairing public and other inquiries into alleged failings by corporate and statutory bodies.
The high-profile public inquiry into the deaths at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust was chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC whilst some of the core participants were represented by Debra Powell, Paul Spencer, Pravin Fernando and Richard Partridge.
Currently Sir Robert Francis QC, Stephen Morley and Cecily White are acting in the Undercover Policing Inquiry, while John de Bono QC, Chris Daw QC and Gerry Boyle are instructed in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
Other noteworthy inquiries where tenants have represented the inquiry panel or the core participants include:
- the Leveson inquiry – John Beggs QC and James Berry were instructed on behalf of Surrey Police;
- the Freedom to Speak Up Review into whistleblowing in the NHS, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC;
- the ongoing Northern Irish Statutory Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related Deaths – Angus Moon QC, Katie Gollop QC and Malcolm Fortune were instructed;
- the Baha Mousa inquiry into the death of detainees in Iraq;
- numerous other Health and Social Services inquiries into homicides by psychiatric patients (such as that following the Russell killings by Michael Stone);
- the Ladbroke Grove and Southall Rail Disasters; and
- the Marchioness ferry disaster inquiry.
24 Hour Urgent Advice
Our Inquest & Inquiries team provides a 24 hour service, 365 days a year to arrange for urgent advice and representation on applications including injunctions. For more details about our emergency service please click here.
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