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Legal help and Inquests

Coping With Legal Proceedings

TCF publish a leaflet Coping With Legal Proceedings which looks at some of the issues that can arise for us, as parents, before, during and after the legal proceedings.

The focus is on how we can cope with what unfolds, as these proceedings will likely add layers of complexity to our grief.

You can order a printed copy of the leaflet by email.


Legal Help and Inquests

TCF have produced 3 fact sheets about inquests in England and Wales.

Please note that although some of the terminology may have changed, the basic information in the fact sheets is correct to the best of our knowledge.
  • Part 1 gives a brief OVERVIEW of the inquest process and who is involved.
  • Part 2 offers detailed advice on PREPARATION, including getting legal and other support.
  • See Part 3 gives an explanation of what happens on THE DAY.

For information on SCOTLAND please see The Investigation of Sudden and Unexplained Deaths in Scotland.

For information on NORTHERN IRELAND please see NI Direct Government: Coroners, Post-Mortems and Inquests

The Ministry of Justice publishes the publication A Guide to Coroner Services for Bereaved People (2020)

For advice or advocacy about all legal matters solicitor Sefton Kwasnik, head of the PI Department and Health and Safety at Ozon Solicitors in Manchester, would be happy to offer a confidential service on a no obligation basis. He is familiar with many of the issues that death may raise and has extensive experience of dealing with the police and coroners. He can be contacted by text/mobile on 07836 630889 or sefton@ozonlaw.com

Sefton has accumulated a wealth of experience in actually appearing with bereaved families at inquests and in 2016 alone he has represented, amongst others, for the mum of a 4 year old child who drowned in a swimming pool; the parents of a 15 year old girl who lost their daughter in a railway incident; a mum who lost her daughter following a faulty diabetic product; a mum, twin and two other sisters of a woman who was failed by the mental health services; and the parents of final year university student who was the subject of bullying from his tutor; as well as the daughter of a mum who was crossing the road when struck by a speeding vehicle where the police have failed to prosecute.

Recognising the sensitive needs of the family, Sefton can oversee and handle the whole inquest process from start to finish, to ease anxiety and to secure maximum outcomes.



This voluntary service is for anyone attending an inquest at a Coroner’s Court. You can find out more here: www.coronerscourtssupportservice.org.uk .

The CCSS is there to offer you practical and emotional support whilst you are at the Coroners Court. If possible, the volunteer will take the you into the Court before the proceedings start and explain how an Inquest is conducted and the layout of the Court.

The Service is free and works under strict guidelines of confidentiality and equal opportunities.

More information about the Coroners' Court Support Service (CCSS)

More information about the CCSS Helpline

Complaints about inquests can be made to the Chief Coroner - https://www.judiciary.uk/related-offices-and-bodies/office-chief-coroner/


Making a Complaint to or about the NHS

Most of the time the NHS does a great job of taking care of us and our loved ones, but there also can be circumstances where we may feel that it has failed in some way. It may be some action or lack of action by health professionals working in the NHS who, in our opinion, have contributed to the death of our child. In these circumstances, we may wish to make a complaint.

The Compassionate Friends have produced a series of fact sheets providing a summary of the complaints procedure in England as of 2017 from the perspective of a bereaved parent.

Part 1 gives a brief overview and some advice on reaching a decision on whether to complain or not.

Part 2 offers information about starting the complaints process.

Part 3 gives a description of the process and what you can expect.

It is hoped, in the future, to provide further information about the process in Scotland and Wales.



When a Child Dies: A guide for parents and carers is a document published by NHS England giving bereaved parents information on what happens when a child under 18 years old dies.

Part 1 of the guide covers the different aspects of the Child Death Review. Part 2 looks at some of the things you can do and where to get more information and support.



Employment rights when your baby is stillborn or dies soon after birth

The law recognises the pain and distress that bereaved parents are experiencing and employees qualify for leave or pay if the baby is stillborn after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy or dies after being born. Statutory Maternity and Paternity Leave rights are not affected. You will not be expected to go back to work earlier than you had planned nor will you lose any pay.

Inflexible statutory rules

Unfortunately the rules regarding the death of the child are rather inflexible. One can only hope for flexible and understanding employers.

Shared parental leave and/or pay will not be allowed if the child dies before parents have opted into this arrangement. This is because one of the qualifying conditions is having shared responsibility for the care of the child. If there is no child to care for, the mother remains entitled to maternity leave and pay and the father is entitled to paternity leave/pay.

If the child dies after parents have opted into shared parental leave and/or pay, they each continue to be entitled to take the leave and pay that they booked before the death.

An employee may reduce or cancel a period of leave booked, subject to 8 weeks’ notice.

Advice about employment rights for TCF members

If you need advice or advocacy about your employment rights following the loss of a pre-natal or very early infant death, TCF member and Employment Law specialist Patrick Roberts would be happy to help. He can be contacted at postmaster@patrickroberts.force9.co.uk or 07584 302915.

Support our work

Each year thousands of parents suffer the loss of a son or a daughter. Please help us to support families in their time of greatest need.

Make a donation

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