Inquests & Public Inquiries

The preeminent set for inquest work in the South West, with specialist areas including deaths in custody, care deaths, and fatal accidents."

Legal 500  2020
Inquests and Inquiries

At St John’s Chambers we have a highly specialist Inquest team who, with members of our clinical negligence, personal injury and regulatory teams, regularly undertake inquest work.  Our team has a significant breadth of experience in inquest and public inquiry work, providing expertise at all levels of seniority. Our barristers provide first-class guidance, support, advice and representation throughout the whole inquest process.

We act for all types of interested person including:

  • Bereaved family / loved ones
  • NHS Trusts
  • Emergency services including police authorities and individual officers
  • Prisons including private prisons
  • Agencies suspected of being involved in a death including local authorities
  • Private companies including private care homes

Members of our specialist inquest team have extensive experience in dealing with complex and long-running inquests, often where Article 2 of the ECHR is engaged and frequently involving a jury. Such cases include deaths in custody, death following police restraint or contact, prison deaths, military deaths, and deaths where the deceased was vulnerable perhaps by reason of age or mental illness and was under the care of the state in some way.

Tom Leeper was instructed in the double inquest into the deaths of Cerys Yemm and Matthew Williams: Williams killed Yemm at a hostel just weeks after being released from prison and also died at the scene shortly after police discharged a Taser and arrested him. Emma Zeb represented Bristol City Council in the inquest into the death of Robert Crane in a fire at his flat; and Rachel Russell represented the pilot’s family in the inquest into the deaths of Lord Ballyedmond, Declan Small, Carl Dickerson and Lee Hoyle in a fatal helicopter crash.

Within our specialist inquest team we have regulatory and disciplinary barristers who appreciate the importance of giving proper advice to potential witnesses who may be at risk of prosecution and/or whose activities may be called into question. We understand the significance of the evidence that is given at such proceedings, most particularly as it may relate to prosecutions under health and safety regulations or road traffic provisions.

We have experience of emergency judicial review applications and judicial review under health and safety regulations as well as how best to use evidence elicited at inquest in subsequent criminal and civil proceedings.

Our team boasts specialist advocates with expertise in personal injury and clinical negligence matters, who understand the importance and implications of an inquest finding on a potential future claim. In the context of a death in hospital or a death related to medical care, specialist clinical negligence barristers in our team will provide a level of expertise from the early stages of an inquest to any potential future claim for damages. Likewise, in any future possible fatal accident claim, our team has a full depth of knowledge to be able to provide the advice and representation needed.

The team thoroughly understand the nuances of the Coronial process, the nature of advocacy required at these hearings and the related procedure.
Under the public access scheme, our Inquest team can either provide full representation at the inquest, or give advice and legal support to family members who wish to represent themselves.

We will always consider alternative funding arrangements, including fixed or capped fees where this is appropriate.


We are committed to providing training to the wider legal and medical communities, and we design and deliver many seminars and workshops; we are always happy to provide bespoke training to meet your team’s individual needs. Please contact Annette Bushell, Practice Manager, to discuss the extensive portfolio of workshops and bespoke seminars that we offer clients.

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