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In 2016, of the 4,026 deaths that were reported to the Coroner in Northern Ireland, 1,173 post mortems were carried out and 121 inquests were conducted. 

A Coroner is an independent Judicial Officer who investigates sudden, unexpected, suspicious or unnatural deaths occurring anywhere in Northern Ireland.  An Inquest is held when the Coroner decides that a death should be investigated in a public Court.  This is a fact-finding process with the aim of answering questions about who the deceased was and how, when and where they died.  The family of the deceased can be provided with a factual finding at the conclusion of the Inquest by the Coroner.

An Inquest is discretionary and may be held in the following circumstances however this list is not exhaustive:-

  • In the event of a stillbirth.

  • If a death occurred whilst the deceased was in custody.

  • If a death is thought to have been the result of violence, misadventure, unfair means, misconduct or malpractice.

  • If a death is thought to have occurred due to natural illness or disease.

  • If a death occurred in such other circumstances as may require investigation.

An Inquest is not a trial and its purpose is not to attribute blame to any party.  The Coroner has no power to order an Inquest when the death occurred outside Northern Ireland.

An Inquest is a public hearing and often the family of the deceased are legally represented.  

We Francis Hanna & Co recognise that this can be a difficult and traumatic process for the relatives of the deceased.  We have the skill and expertise to provide representation, assistance and support at any Inquest.

Should you require advice or assistance, please contact us by telephone on 028 9024 3901 or by email on for a free, no obligation discussion.