- A criminal or civil legal case.
- A regulatory probe, for example by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
- An insurance or fraud investigation.
- A statutory investigation or public inquiry, for example the Hillsborough Inquiry.
- A judicial review, where an IP wants to challenge the inquest’s findings.
Coroners in England and Wales are required to record every inquest they hold. These audio recordings aren’t routinely transcribed, but sometimes only a high-quality verbatim, written transcript will do. Inquests are all about establishing the facts – investigating the circumstances around a sudden, unexplained or violent death, or a death in custody. And when it comes to the business of examining when, where and how a person died, there are many stakeholders. Inquests can be complex. By their very nature they can be sensitive, and they’re often high-profile too. For all these reasons and more, it’s vital that there’s an accurate official record of proceedings upon which all stakeholders can agree. Coroners in England and Wales make an audio recording of every inquest, and this file forms the official record. Whether proceedings are recorded by the Coroners’ Service itself or by a specialist provider like Appen, the audio must then be kept on record for at least 15 years. For individuals designated by the coroner as an Interested Person (IP), accessing the official record is a straightforward process; they can usually request a CD for a standard fee or, occasionally, listen to the audio at a secure location. However there are times when having an accurate, verbatim written account of proceedings is helpful, or even essential. Any IP can request a transcript, including relatives, beneficiaries, insurers, lawyers and the police, as well as representatives of organisations or businesses whose actions or omissions might have contributed to the death. A coroner may also ask for a transcript themselves. The reasons why accurate, verbatim transcripts are requested can vary. But whatever the circumstances, they have some clear advantages over audio recordings. Even if they’ve attended the inquest or listened to the audio, relatives wanting a better understanding of why someone has died can read and digest a written transcript at their own pace, and in a place they feel comfortable. It’s easier to move backwards and forwards through the text, re-read specific sections, and share the contents. In some cases, an inquest deals with confidential or sensitive information that can’t be shared. If the official record needs to be redacted in places, it’s more straightforward to do this in a written transcript than in an audio recording. When an inquest leads on to further proceedings, an accurate, verbatim transcript will almost always be needed. These proceedings might include: