What Happens at an Inquest
When the Inquest begins, the lawyers representing family members or other interested parties introduce themselves. Counsel Assisting will then call the witnesses one by one to give evidence. The procedure is:
- Witness sworn in
The witness goes into the witness box and swears an oath or affirms to tell the truth.
- Witness statement and Questioning of the Witness
The witness will usually be asked questions pertaining to their statement by Counsel Assisting or the Coroner who may ask questions to clarify points. If there are other lawyers involved they will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the witness. Counsel Assisting can then ask more questions to clarify anything that has come up. If the family is not represented by a lawyer, Counsel Assisting can then check whether the family has any questions they would like asked of the witness.
The Coroner can also ask questions along the way. The Coroner may request other witnesses to be called if more evidence is needed to clarify an issue.
- Final submissions
Once all the witnesses have been heard, the lawyers may make submissions to the Coroner. If the Inquest is a complex one or one that has lasted several weeks written submissions may be required and the case will be adjourned for these submissions to be provided to the Coroner. The family may also be asked by the Coroner if there is anything they want to say.
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