Court Proceedings

Taking the First Step – Instruct a Barrister Directly.

When Should I Get In Touch With a Barrister?

The sooner you come the better, because the sooner you come to someone, the better they would be able to take instructions from you, the more time they would be able to dedicate to your case, and the more work they can put into it. But, no, there is no bar of when you can come – and of course, if you call up and I am free, I am not already in court for someone else, we can take instructions, I can take instructions from you. And I can appear in court the very next day, even on the same day if it is complete emergency, you desperately need it. But of course, going to someone in plenty of time is often the best thing, because that means you can prepare the case properly and run the case properly.

Can I speak to a barrister without having an actual court filing?

Often as well, if you come, because you have one of those niggling feelings at the back of your mind, and you think, “ I don’t know whether I’ve got a case or not, but I think something is not right. I’d like to talk to someone about it.” Then, that’s the perfect time to come to someone. Because, of course, often things can be resolved before going to court. There’re many steps you can take to preemptively sort the matter out, and sort the problem out without having to go to court. So the best thing you can do is to take that first step and speak to someone.

Understanding Inquests, with Stephen Harvey QC – ShenSmith Barristers


What is an inquest?

Inquests and public enquiries are unlike ordinary court hearings, because, as their name implies, they are inquisitorial proceedings, whose primary purpose is to investigate a situation and to arrive at a conclusion. Whether that conclusion concerns the cause of someone’s death in the case of inquest, or a government appointed inspector’s recommendation to a government body, in a relation to a matter of public interest.

Why are inquests held?

Inquests are held in order to establish the cause of death in situations, where the death are not natural causes. Those who become involved in inquests are obviously the bereaved of the person, who has very sadly died, and the person who may be found have been wholly or partially responsible for that death. For example, the driver of the car involved in an accident, in which the decease died. Whichever side the individual is on, they will undoubtedly have a vested interest in the outcome; whether it’ll be an inquest or enquiry, the adversarial skills of an experienced barrister in cross-examining witnesses and making speeches (what lawyers call submissions) to the coroner in an inquest, the inspector of an enquiry, can make or break the case.

Can I bring a barrister into an inquest?

The huge advantage of being represented in either type of the hearing is that the experienced advocate can bring a professional and objective detachment to the case; unaffected by understandable emotion affecting those, who are personally involved, and unaffected by any personal agendas. The independent and experienced advocate is able to put the most persuasive case before the hearing to the very best advantage of the side that he is representing. It cannot be overstated that effective representation during the course of the inquest in particular, can be pivotal if not determinative as to the likelihood of any subsequence proceedings, particular of a criminal nature.

Can an inquest lead to a prosecution?

If a prosecution does follow, then the way which the evidence unfolded and was addressed before the inquest, can itself have a very real and direct bearing upon any subsequence trial. There may also be consequential civil claims by the estate of the decease person, or an injured employee who’s seeking damages. In both inquests and enquiries, continuity of representation is obviously a vital element. And if the case becomes a criminal prosecution, it will involve considerable adversarial skills being required before the jury.

How can I prepare for an inquest?

I have the resources of a team of highly experienced investigators from a variety of backgrounds, who can assist under my direction with the preparation of any case that goes before an inquest. I can assist you with the selection and briefing of any necessary experts that are required.