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Susie Labinjoh
Susie Labinjoh
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Alice Hardy
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Jocelyn Cockburn
Jocelyn Cockburn
Partner
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Nancy Collins
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Sasha Barton
Sasha Barton
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Service families who have lost a relative on operations or training, deserve to understand the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one.

A Military Inquest is a legal investigation into the death of service personnel conducted by a Coroner. The Coroner will seek to establish when, where and how someone has died.

At a time of devastating loss, families often feel overwhelmed, but our solicitors are here to support you. Our clients draw strength and guidance from our award winning Military Cases team, led by Partner, Jocelyn Cockburn. Our lawyers have acted for families in some of the most sensitive and high profile military inquests, like the case of Private Jason Smith who suffered a fatal heatstroke while serving in Iraq (please see below).

 

Private Jason Smith's Story

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Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?

Our experienced lawyers fight hard to obtain disclosure of information and documents from the military. We make sure the Inquest process answers key questions and concerns.

If the Military Inquest fails to investigate a death properly, we challenge the Coroner’s decisions through Judicial Review. We won a landmark case at the Supreme Court in 2013 (the Snatch Land Rover case) which established that British troops remain within the UK’s jurisdiction when deployed on active service abroad. British Troops are therefore under the protections of the Human Rights Act, which includes the right to life. This widened the scope of Military Inquests and there is now an obligation on the state to involve families more fully.

Our solicitors are active members of the INQUEST Lawyers Group. This is comprised of solicitors and barristers who specialise in legal advice for bereaved families following a controversial death.

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Private Jason Smith

Following a lack of disclosure by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), we brought a Judicial Review under human rights law to challenge the verdict of an inquest into the death of Private Jason Smith.

In his final letter, Jason had told his mother he had suffered from extreme levels of dehydration. After repeatedly telling medical staff he was feeling unwell, Jason collapsed, suffered a cardiac arrest, and died in Al ‘Amārah.

As Jason’s mother began to recover from the initial shock, she started to put questions to the army, but was unable to get answers about if anything had gone wrong. She began to suspect that Jason had lost his life unnecessarily.

Catherine began to look around for help and independent advice, but was wrongly directed back to the MOD. Jason’s mother made contact with our Military Claims team. She was advised that the army may have been in breach of Jason’s right to life under the Human Rights Act, and that she had a right to find out what happened.

In June 2010, Jason’s case was decided by the Supreme Court. It found that the Human Rights Act did apply to soldiers in military camps abroad. The Coroner from the original hearing proceeded to state he had been wrong to proceed with the 2006 inquest without all the information.

 

This resulted in the Supreme Court quashing the verdict and led to a second inquest. This then found that the risk of death could have been reduced by following the  policy on heat illness, in terms of climatic monitoring, hydration and medical treatment, and by the availability of air-conditioned accommodation and vehicles.

We won substantial damages for his mother, Catherine Smith, and secured an apology from the MoD in 2014.

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"[Jocelyn Cockburn is] phenomenal at miscarriage of justice cases." "She is extremely effective." Chambers UK, 2021