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Funding for inquests
In this section you can find out more about the different funding options that may be available to you as the relative of someone whose death is being investigated by the Coroner through an Inquest.
Depending on the circumstances of your relative’s death and on your financial position, public funding may be available to you through the Legal Aid Agency. Please note, you will not be able to assess whether you are eligible from reading this webpage and you will need to speak to a solicitor to check as to whether you or your family may be eligible to apply for these types of funding.
There are two types of public funding that can potentially be accessed by families requiring legal assistance relating to an inquest into a family member’s death:
If you are eligible to receive legal representative under a Legal Help you can be given ‘advice and assistance’ by a specialist Inquest solicitor in order to prepare for your loved one’s Inquest. This funding covers all steps up to, but excluding, any court hearings.
This funding is ‘means tested’ which means that your financial position is assessed when determining whether you are eligible. In calculating whether you are eligible to receive this type of funding your solicitor will look at any income you receive and also certain outgoings to find out what your disposable income is. They will also assess any capital you have (such as any savings that you might hold and property that you may own).
In certain situations, even if you are not financially eligible to receive advice and assistance under a Legal Help, it may be possible to apply to the Legal Aid Agency for what is called a ‘waiver’ of the eligibility limits.
Exceptional Case Funding
If granted, Exceptional Case Funding covers the cost of either a solicitor or a barrister providing legal representation to you at the Inquest hearing itself (and also any Pre Inquest Review hearings that may take place). This funding covers advocacy and advice at these hearings only.
This funding is ‘means tested’ like the Legal Help but it is also ‘merits tested’ which means that, whilst your financial circumstances are taken into account when determining eligibility, the circumstances of your relative’s death are also considered.
As explained in ‘What to expect at an Inquest’ the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 made it unlawful for the state to act in a way that infringes rights provided by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Article 2 (the right to life) imposes obligation on the state not to be complicit in the taking of life (systemic duty) and to have systems in place to protect life (operational duty). There is also a procedural duty to investigate where a death may have resulted from a breach of the systemic or operational duty.
Exceptional Case Funding will be granted when the Legal Aid Agency is persuaded that the Inquest either:
- engages Article 2 of the ECHR (the right to life) or;
- there is a wider public interest in your family receiving legal representation at the Inquest
In the first instance we would explore whether public funding was available to you before considering other funding options. If you are not eligible for public funding then you may wish to consider privately instructing us to provide you with advice and assistance in relation to an Inquest. The cost of doing so will depend on the circumstances of the case and the amount of work that would need to be completed by your solicitor.
If you want to explore your funding options for legal representation at an Inquest then please, call or complete our contact form
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