A pen portrait is a way to commemorate a loved one who has died. It can help humanise the inquest, putting the family and their loved one at the heart of the process. In most inquests, if you have written a statement then it is unlikely you will also need to write a pen portrait.

If the family have not written a statement, they are encouraged to ask that the coroner introduce a pen portrait at the inquest. A pen portrait will help the coroner (and jury) to know something of your loved one – what they did, their interests and hobbies and details of their circle of family and friends. You can also ask to show a photograph of your loved one.

In July 2021 the Chief Coroner published guidance on the use of pen portraits at inquests. You can find the full guidance here.

Coroners are encouraged to accept pen portraits that are provided by the family, particularly where there is a jury or in cases where a coroner is sitting alone but there are interested persons present. 

Families are encouraged to ask the coroner at any pre-inquest review hearings if they wish to submit a pen portrait but it will be for the coroner to decide if and when is to be shown or read.