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Hertfordshire County Council

An inquest will be held if it was not possible to find out the cause of death from the post-mortem examination, the death is found to be unnatural or the death occurred whilst the deceased was in detention.

The inquest process is a fact-finding, rather than fault-finding, process to help the coroner establish the cause of death and the appropriate legal conclusion.

The 4 questions the coroner considers as part of their inquest are:

  • who the deceased was
  • where, when and how the death occurred.

How the death occurred is usually the focus of the inquest and means ‘by what means’ the death occurred. It isn't within the role of the coroner to look into potential issues regarding matters of negligence.

At the end of the inquest the coroner completes a ‘Record of Inquest’. This contains details about the deceased for the purposes of registering of the death.


Inquests take place at:

Hertfordshire Coroner Service
The Old Courthouse
St Albans Road East
AL10 0ES

Map and directions


Support for families

The Coroners' Court Support Service, a registered charity, offers support and advice to families and witnesses going to inquests.

The Coroners' Courts Support Service 
Victoria Charity Centre
11 Belgrave Road

Call 0300 111 2141 or email


Interim Certificates of Cause of Death

The coroner will issue 6 ‘Coroner’s Interim Certificates of Death’ once an inquest has been opened or an investigation formally commenced.  This allows the funeral to be organised and to enable administration of the estate.


Pre-Inquest Review Hearing

Sometimes a Pre-Inquest Review Hearing will be needed if there are particular issues of law or procedure that need to be determined by the coroner before the final inquest, for example:

  • the witnesses who need to give evidence
  • the time, date and place of the final inquest
  • how long the inquest is likely to last
  • whether a jury will be needed
  • whether any other hearings are needed.


Who can attend an inquest?

The inquest is a matter of public record.  The public are entitled to attend an inquest and the press can potentially attend too.

All interested parties (people entitled to take part and ask the witnesses questions) are entitled to be represented by lawyers at the inquest or any pre-inquest hearings. However, most inquests are conducted without any lawyers being involved.


What happens after an inquest?

The coroner will register the death with the registrar for the district where the death happened. The family may then apply for a death certificate through the registrar by completing an application form provided at the conclusion of the inquest.

Some inquests lead to court proceedings and in such cases the inquest will be adjourned. When the accused perpetrator is committed to crown court to be tried, the coroner can issue documentation to enable the death to be formally registered. After the criminal proceedings have been completed the coroner will decide whether the inquest will be resumed or closed.

Inquest files are archived. Information is available to family members and close friends. Contact the coroner service at or 01707 292707 with your enquiry.

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