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. In the same way as other Inquests, the Coroner seeks to establish when, where and how someone has died.
At a time of devastating loss, families often feel overwhelmed but our solicitors can help you. Our clients draw strength and guidance from our award winning Military Cases team, led by Partner and Joint Head of Civil Liberties, 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 fatal heatstroke while serving in Iraq (see below).
Our experienced lawyers fight hard to obtain disclosure of information and documents from the military to make sure the Inquest process answers key questions and concerns.
If the Military Inquest fails to investigate a death properly, we can challenge 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, and therefore attract the protections of the Human Rights Act, including 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 comprised of solicitors and barristers who specialise in legal advice for bereaved families following a controversial death.
Private Jason Smith
Following a lack of disclosure by the Ministry of Defence, we brought a Judicial Review under human rights law, to challenge the verdict of an inquest into the death of Private Jason Smith, who suffered fatal heatstroke while serving in Iraq in 2003. This resulted in the Supreme Court quashing the verdict and led to a second inquest which found that the risk of death could have been reduced by adherence to policy on heat illness, in terms of climatic monitoring, hydration and medical treatment, and by the availability of air-conditioned accommodation and vehicles. We recently won substantial damages for his mother, Catherine Smith, and secured an apology from the MoD in 2014.
Our Military Death Inquest Solicitors are backed by nearly four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of Military Claims Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving the best possible results. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0808 250 6017 today.