Sefton Kwasnik
Partner – Serious Injuries, Medical Profession Defence and Inquest

BPS Family Law Partner Sefton Kwasnik answers some important questions – after a coroner recently made the decision to adjourn an inquest into the death of a Rochdale chef so his family can quiz hospital chiefs about his discharge.

Is the decision by the coroner to adjourn Anthony Griffin’s inquest uncommon Sefton?

Whilst the coroner’s actions here are not common, they show a deep appreciation for genuine family concerns by a very caring coroner, and illustrate that before the conclusion of an inquest it may be possible to persuade the coroner to undertake additional or new investigations and enquiries.

This is a very sad case and no doubt traumatic for the family, as Anthony Griffin died two weeks after being brutally attacked with a wrench. Is there a time limit on when inquests should be heard by?

The target for the completion of inquests is 12 months from death. In this instance, it is already 14 months after the death, as Anthony Griffin died at his girlfriend’s on May 4 last year, so it will be even longer before the final hearing. I do not know the precise the reason for the delay, but delays are not uncommon. In fact, inquest delays is a whole topic in itself. I find that families often prefer a delay if it means a more thorough inquest.

How important do you feel it is for families to be supported by a lawyer leading up to and during an inquest?

Having the right support is essential during the inquest process. Professionally, I have a wealth of experience representing families at inquest and advising upon issues when a sudden (or any) death may rise. It’s about providing complete support and guidance to grieving individuals and families at a very sensitive time in their lives. Family members tell me that they welcome professional support at the inquest hearing for a variety of reasons

Do coroners, in your experience, often act compassionately?

It is my experience that this coroner, Simon Nelson, is very thorough and tries to find out answers for the family. He is very experienced and caring and compassionate.

Why do you think the coroner has made the decision he has on this occasion?

It seems that in this case, the hospital was not represented at court, so out of fairness and thoroughness, the coroner has adjourned the case to obtain their version in relation to the obvious concerns articulated by the partner of the deceased.

Do you believe more families would want other coroners to be as considerate?

My guess is that there are hundreds of families who do not know how to achieve similar investigative responses from coroners in equally worthy causes day in day out throughout the country.

Service

Sefton offers a no obligation initial meeting. He is available to clients or initial enquires between the hours of 7am and 11pm and offers weekend surgery appointments. If you would like further information, please contact Sefton on 0161 834 2623.