Access to justice for families INQUEST's access to justice campaign seeks to ensure the equality of arms of bereaved families by developing a system which treats the bereaved with dignity and respect, and supports them in navigating the legal process following a death. "Families are often left in the dark, trying to sort out numerous matters associated with a loved one dying whilst under the protection of the state, while trying to make sense of what has happened both emotionally and legally. Having access to funded legal representation is paramount for justice, and we welcome the committee bringing this to the attention of parliament" Louise and Simon Rowland, family of Joseph Phuong Legal Aid for Inquests INQUEST is campaigning for all families to have access to automatic, non-means tested legal advice and support following a state-related death. Families impacted by a state related death often find themselves adrift and alone, struggling to get the answersthey deserve. Families face a huge disadvantage given that state bodies and private providers are almost always legally represented at inquests. We work alongside families to ensure their participation at inquests through access to legal support and advice. Specialist legal representation and input from families is crucial to ensuring robust post death investigations and inquests. Inquests can shine a light on state failings, ensure those responsible are held to account and identify opportunities to prevent future deaths. After many years of pressure from INQUEST, families, and lawyers, there is now widespread understanding about the urgent need that the system needs to change. Automatic non-means tested public funding for all bereaved families at inquests following a state-related death is a key recommendation in recent major government commissioned reviews from Bishops James Jones and Dame Elish Angiolini. It has also been also been supported by the previous and current Chief Coroner, by the Bach Commission, the Corston Review and, most recently in July 2018, by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. In August 2018, INQUEST, families and the INQUEST Lawyers Group responded to a call for evidence from the Ministry of Justice on the need for legal aid at inquests. The government is expected to consult on new guidance soon. This marks a unique opportunity to uphold bereaved families’ rights, whilst also safeguarding others’ lives. We are campaigning for: Automatic non-means tested funding to families for specialist legal representation immediately following a state-related death to cover preparation and representation at the inquest and other legal processes. Legal aid should also include financial support for families, with reference to: travel and subsistence, overnight accommodation, loss of wages. Funding to an equivalent level to state bodies/public authorities and corporate bodies represented including funding for silks and juniors, rates and brief fees, attendance at pre-inquest reviews; A relaxation of the current rules to enable funding of more than one family legal representative where a real and insurmountable conflict exists. FIND OUT MORE News and Resources Briefing: Legal Aid for Inquests, INQUEST News: 'Calls for emergency legal aid for relatives of those who die in custody', The Guardian, 10 October 2018 Submission: INQUEST submission to the Ministry of Justice call for evidence on legal aid, August 2018. Submission: INQUEST Lawyers Group submission to the Ministry of Justice call for evidence on legal aid, September 2018. Media Release: 'Human Rights Committee back INQUEST's call for better access to justice for bereaved families' 19 July 2018. Submission: INQUEST submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights Attitudes to Enforcement Inquiry, March 2018. Oral evidence to the Committee with Deborah Coles, Sara Ryan, Richard Huggins, Louise Rowland and Simon Rowland, March 2018. INQUEST blog: Families tell Parliament why bereaved relatives need legal aid at inquests, March 2018.