How to Complain

This is an extract from the Ministry of Justice Guide to Coroner Services

SECTION 11

11. Feedback, challenging a coroner’s decision and complaints

11.1 Feedback Coroners are committed to providing a service which meets your needs. They welcome feedback, including when the service has performed well. You should address this to the coroner. If you are dissatisfied with all or part of a coroner’s investigation the rest of this section sets out what you can do about it.

11.2 How to challenge a coroner’s decision or the outcome of an inquest.

You may challenge a coroner’s decision or an inquest conclusion. If you are thinking about doing this you should first seek advice from a lawyer with expertise in this area of the law. Some bereavement support organisations may also be able to offer advice. If you decide to proceed, you need to make an application to the High Court for judicial review of the coroner’s decision or conclusion. You should do this as soon as possible and within three months of the end of the investigation. There is a separate power under which the Attorney General, or someone who has received the Attorney General’s permission to do so, may apply to the High Court for an investigation to be carried out if a coroner has not held one; or for another investigation if this is in the interests of justice (e.g. because new evidence has come to light). There is no time limit for these applications.

11.3 Legal aid for challenges Legal aid may be available for judicial review proceedings.

See section 8 above for more information about which solicitors undertake legally-aided work. 

11.4 Complaints about a coroner’s personal conduct.

If you are dissatisfied with a coroner’s personal conduct you should normally raise this in the first instance with the coroner concerned. If the coroner is unable to deal with your complaint satisfactorily, you may complain to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) (formerly known as the Office for Judicial Complaints). Examples of potential personal misconduct would be the use of insulting, racist or sexist language; or unreasonable delays in holding an inquest or replying to correspondence. There is no charge for complaining to the JCIO and you can do so online via the JCIO website at http://judicialconduct.judiciary.gov.uk/making-acomplaint.htm. Further information about complaints about coroners is also on the website. Alternatively, you can download the JCIO complaints form and send it to the JCIO by fax, post or email. You can also complain by letter or email. The JCIO’s contact details are:

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office
81 - 82 Queens Building Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

Tel: 020 7073 4719
Fax: 020 7073 4725
Email: [email protected]

11.5 Complaints about the standard of service received.

If you need to complain about the way a coroner or his or her staff handled an investigation (for example if you feel the standards in the booklet are not being met), you should first write to the coroner, and copy your letter to the local authority which funds the service. The coroner’s office will be able to advise you of the relevant local authority, if you are unsure of this. You may also complain direct to the local authority. If you are still dissatisfied after its response you may complain to the Local Government Ombudsman, at http://www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint, or by calling 30 0300 061 0614 or 0845 602 1983. Alternatively you may complain in writing to: The Local Government Ombudsman PO Box 4771 Coventry CV4 0EH There is no charge to complain about the standard of service from a coroner’s office.

11.6 Complaints about a pathologist who conducts the post-mortem examination.

If you wish to complain about a pathologist you should tell the coroner. Serious complaints should also be made to the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC can take action to remove or restrict a doctor’s right to practise if it considers that there has been a serious or persistent breach of its guidance. You can submit a complaint online at https://www.gmc-uk.org/ patient_online_complaints. For further information, or if you wish to speak to an adviser, please telephone 0161 923 6602. A complaint about a registered forensic pathologist (see Glossary) should be made to the GMC and the Home Office. Details for the Home Office are at https://www.gov.uk/forensic-pathology-role-within-the-home-office.