The Inquest Book:  The Law of Coroners and Inquests

C Cross and N Garnham (Eds) (2016) Hart Publishing Ltd £150
ISBN: 978-1-84946- 649-3 Hardback

How often when needing to quickly advise a client, draft a pithy skeleton argument or get on your feet fast to make submissions on a point of law have you thought to yourself “I know there is a really important case about that but I just can’t remember what it is”, then, even more annoyingly, after eventually dredging the case name from the dark recesses of memory, had to wade through paragraphs and paragraphs of the judgment just to find that really key part? Well if you are an inquest practitioner you can now breathe a sigh of relief, a helpful team of barristers from 1 Crown Office Row have just saved you hours of head scratching by producing ‘The Inquest Book’ and doing most of the hard work for you.

The Inquest Book’ is a practitioner textbook in its purest form with no fluff or filler. 

Unashamedly a book about law written for specialist lawyers by specialist lawyers, its twenty-six sensibly organised chapters each open with a brief overview of the chapter topic followed by the relevant legislative and other sources. Most importantly each chapter has at its heart a comprehensive ‘Cases’ section, made up of cases summaries and the key paragraphs from the seminal decided cases that cover each practice point.   Impressive in their attention to detail, having set out the essential extracts from those key cases in full, the authors then end many sections by efficiently listing the other cases of lesser importance but which might also be of relevance.   So, no more searching through piles of law reports from Osman to Oneryildiz through Smith to Stoyanovi to find those Art 2 nuggets; no more racking your brains to try and remember the proper name of that Polish case on the state’s duty to protect the public from falling branches… (It probably reveals my age if I tell you I remember it as Cheech & Chong - and so can never spell it in any search engine!) …there it is helpfully set out in the chapter on ‘Art 2 and Local Authorities’.

Alongside more obvious chapter topics such as ‘The Jury’, ‘Funding’ and inquest ‘Conclusions’ the book provides an analysis of some more specific frequently arising topics such as ‘Deaths in Custody’ and ‘Deaths in the Workplace’.   The section on ‘Inquests involving Intelligence Services and Agencies’ won’t be a chapter you need to turn to every day – but when you do you will be thanking (now deservedly Sir) Neil Garnham for taking the time to write down his thoughts and experience on managing the procedural difficulties of dealing with sensitive material at inquests before he set off for the High Court bench.

Perhaps the only downside of this book is that being so comprehensive takes space. So with it weighing in at half a kilo more than my laptop I can’t see me carrying it to court regularly – although, I expect to see a copy sitting on the Coroner’s desk when I get there. Luckily, however, the publishers tell me there is an electronic version now available.


Readers of the UK Inquest Law Blog can benefit from a special offer of 20% discount on the book.

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