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This briefing deals with the law in England and Wales.

Means of challenge

There is no right of appeal as such from an inquest.

The Chief Coroner has no power to review, investigate, comment on, or otherwise intervene in the individual judicial decisions of coroners, or in the case management of individual cases.

However, it is sometimes possible to challenge a coroner’s decision, or the outcome of an inquest, by way of an application under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988, or an application for judicial review.

Anyone seeking to challenge a coroner’s decision, or the outcome of an inquest should take specific legal advice as quickly as possible to establish whether there are grounds to do so, and the relevant time limit.

Complaint about conduct of coroner

It is sometimes possible to complain to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office about the personal conduct of the coroner (as opposed to complaints about a decision made by a coroner).

Ministry of Justice guide

In January 2020, the Ministry of Justice published an updated version of its Guide to Coroner Services for Bereaved People. This provides bereaved people with an explanation of the coroner investigation and inquest process as well as links to organisations that may provide help and advice. It includes information about challenging a coroner’s decision, making a complaint and how to complain about the standard of service received from a coroner’s office.

Proposed new system of appeal never implemented

Section 40 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 provided for a new system of appeal to the Chief Coroner against some decisions and determinations made by coroners in connection with investigations and inquests into deaths. This section was never brought into effect and has now been repealed.  

In its 2021 report, The Coroner Service, the House of Commons Justice Committee recommended  the introduction of a  system of appeal similar to that in section 40 as originally enacted.

In its response to the Committee, the Government said it would consider whether there should be an additional proportionate appeals mechanism and that it was not responding to the recommendation at that time.

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