Coroner's inquests - how they work and what it will involve

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If you are visiting the Surrey Coroner's Court, please check for the latest COVID guidance and the safety measures we have in place.

Find an inquest

You can find upcoming inquests at our upcoming Coroner's hearings page. We regularly update this page. Your Coroner's officer will notify you about the inquest date and it will appear here in due course.

View upcoming hearings

What is an inquest?

An inquest is a court hearing intended to answer these four questions:

  1. Who was the person who has died?
  2. When did they die?
  3. Where did they die?
  4. How did their death come about?

An inquest is not a trial and does not assign blame or liability. It simply aims to gather information in order to answer these questions. Inquests are held at HM Coroner's Court in Woking. The Coroner can hold an inquest even if the death happened abroad. The Coroner usually conducts the inquest alone but will sometimes sit alongside a jury.

At the end of the inquest, the Coroner will then give their conclusion. All the Coroner's findings are made on the evidence heard during the hearing and are made on the basis that it is more likely than not that they happened. This is the same standard of proof used in the civil courts, but lower than that used in the criminal courts. The Coroner's conclusions will be set out in 'The Record of Inquest'.

Attendance at an inquest

An inquest is a public hearing and anyone is entitled to attend an inquest, including the public and the press. The Coroner also has powers that allow them to require a specific person attend the court to assist in the inquest.

Interested person

An Interested Person is someone who the Coroner decides is entitled to disclose papers and ask questions of witnesses during an inquest. Interested Person's may be required to attend an inquest to assist the Coroner.

What to do after an inquest?

We will let you know the results from the inquest once it has been concluded. We will also send official documents to the registrar to enable you to register the death.

Please wait to be notified before doing anything further.

Note: If the inquest was concluded more than a year after the death of your loved one, you should wait a week before contacting the Registrar. This is because in these instances the registration service needs to do some additional checks before they can complete the registration process.


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