Legal aid

You might be eligible for legal aid if:

- You fall within the financial threshold set by the Legal Aid Agency.

- The inquest engages Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the ‘right to life’). Article 2 will often apply to deaths which took place whilst the deceased was in the care or custody of the state, such as ( whilst in prison; whilst in police custody or following police contact; whilst detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, there may be other cases which the coroner decides arguably engage Article 2 but this is rare. Article 2 depends on the particular circumstances and will not always apply in the categories above, for example, it may be more difficult to get funding if your loved one died from ‘natural causes’. If you are not sure whether your loved one’s inquest will fall within this category, speak to your INQUEST caseworker

Legal Help and Exceptional Case Funding 

There are two types of funding for an inquest.  Legal Help pays for the preparation of an inquest and will not cover representation at the actual inquest or pre-inquest review.  A separate application will need to be made for this and this is called Exceptional Case Funding.  There is now an automatic non-means tested exceptional case funding for Article 2 inquests.

From 12 January 2022, bereaved families at inquests can apply for legal representation through exceptional case funding (ECF) without means testing.  This is only available for Article 2 inquest.  It is important to note that ECF only covers inquest representation and not the preparation which is normally covered by legal help.   Once ECF founding is granted than Legal Help will also be automatic.  However, if the application for Legal Help is made at the same time as the ECF, the Legal Help cannot be backdated to an earlier day to cover urgent work. As a result, your solicitor may still ask for some evidence of means to apply for Legal Help.  In most of these cases legal help will be granted regardless of your financial circumstances. This is referred to as ‘legal help waiver’

You should speak to your INQUEST caseworker if you are not sure whether you will be eligible for legal aid. 

You should be aware that applying for funding is complex, and the forms you will need to fill in are very detailed and can be intrusive and stressful. Your solicitor should be able to guide you through the process and respond to any queries you may have. In some cases coroners may be willing to write a letter in support of a funding application. This will assist with the funding application, but does not necessarily mean that funding will be granted.

If you are not eligible for legal aid, depending on your circumstances, it might be possible to fund your legal representation in other ways: 

‘Conditional Fee Agreements’ (also called ‘no win, no fee’) 

This might be possible if you are also pursuing a civil claim (such as a clinical negligence claim) on your loved one’s behalf. The inquest costs would then be covered by a successful civil claim (but you would not be asked to pay if your civil claim was unsuccessful). Your lawyer should explain your legal costs and funding options very carefully to you. If you are in any doubt, make sure to get a second opinion or speak to your INQUEST caseworker. 

Legal Expenses Insurance 

Your home and motor insurance or trade union membership may cover the cost of inquest proceedings, however this is very rare. You would also need to check your policy very carefully to find out exactly what type of representation it might cover. If your loved one was a member of a trade union, the union may provide you with free legal representation at the inquest and help you in any claim for compensation. 

‘Pro bono’ help

Sometimes it’s possible for us to find a lawyer who might be able to represent you for free. Your INQUEST caseworker will be able to tell you whether this might be possible. 


Crowdfunding using platforms such as CrowdJustice can sometimes be successful when traditional forms of funding representation aren’t possible, such as where you would like to re-open an inquest but aren’t eligible for legal aid. 

Paying yourself 

It is important to know that inquests can cost thousands of pounds, so you must think very carefully before deciding to pay privately. We would advise you to speak to your INQUEST caseworker first.