Doughty Street Chambers is firmly established as the leading set in inquests and public inquiries specialising in representing bereaved families and others affected by actions of the State, as well as acting for the media. We are top ranked in inquests and public inquiries in both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, where we are described as “the gold standard for its quality of barristers and clerking” and "a leader in the inquests and inquiries field, with barristers that are in a class of their own”. 

Members of our team have been instructed (or are instructed) for Core Participants in most of the significant public inquiries, including the Litvinenko Inquiry, the Anthony Grainger Inquiry, the Azelle Rodney Inquiry, the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI), the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (GTI), the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the Manchester Arena Inquiry, the Brook House Inquiry, the Jermaine Baker Inquiry, the Post Office Inquiry, and the Covid Inquiry. In recent years our growing stature has been reflected in instruction as counsel to the inquiry/inquest including for IICSA, GTI, UCPI and the Covid Inquiry.

We set the highest standards in our inquest work, ensuring the voices of the bereaved are heard, acting fearlessly and with compassion, as well as collaboratively with INQUEST wherever possible. Our expertise is evidenced by the fact that our barristers have been instructed in the most complex and high-profile inquests, particularly where Article 2 of the ECHR is engaged, including the new Hillsborough Inquests, the Fishmonger Hall inquests, the East London Inquests concerning the crimes perpetrated by Stephen Port, and the inquests concerning the deaths of Jean Charles DeMenezesMark Duggan, Jimmy Mubenga, Lewis Skelton, Gaia Pope, Alexander Perepilichny and Dawn Sturgess (the Novichok poisonings).

Our team has extensive experience across the breadth of the field. We have significant expertise in inquests and inquiries considering:

  • The role of the media 
  • Failures to protect vulnerable women in mental health crisis/detention
  • Failures to protect women from risks from violent men (‘femicides’ and self-inflicted deaths)
  • Restraint related deaths of Black men in police custody
  • Failures of mental health and social care institutions, particularly in relation to young people with neurodevelopmental conditions and learning difficulties 
  • Police shootings and vehicle chases
  • Deaths arising from environmental pollution and the climate emergency
  • Covid-19 related deaths
  • Deaths in prison, psychiatric and immigration detention
  • Deaths in army barracks
  • Foreign death of UK nationals
  • Foreign State responsibility for UK deaths
  • Deaths following terrorist attacks and the role of the Security Service
  • Legacy related deaths in Northern Ireland

Our strength in depth in inquest and public inquiry work is grounded in our multi-disciplinary culture and human rights expertise. Our team has parallel expertise in crime, clinical negligence, mental health and capacity, community care, police law, prison law, media law, and immigration, which we draw upon to strengthen and enhance the quality of the representation we offer. Both our juniors and seniors alike are instructed in cases far beyond their years of call and can identify and bring judicial review challenges arising during an inquest or inquiry: for example, challenging decisions on funding, scope and the application of Article 2 ECHR, disclosure, refusal of core participant status and decisions not to hold a public inquiry. 

We have been instructed in the leading cases in in this field, including R (Maughan) v HM Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire [2021] AC 454, Regina (Skelton and another) v West Sussex Senior Coroner [2021] QB 525,  Chief Constable of West Yorkshire v Dyer 2021 1 [WLR] 1233, R (AB) v HM Assistant Coroner for South London [2019] EWHC 1334 (Admin), R (Lewis & ors) v. HM Coroner for Shropshire [2009] EWHC 661 (Admin) and R (Takoushis) v HM Coroner for Inner North London [2005] EWCA Civ 1440. We have also intervened in the higher courts on behalf of INQUEST.

Additionally, our experience in tactical civil litigation and human rights jurisprudence means that our practitioners can provide expert advice on post- or pre-inquest civil claims and inter partes costs recovery.

For more information about our barristers with expertise in inquests and public inquiries, please contact Melvin Warner or Grace Walton from our practice management team.

The team can be found here.

What the directories say

Legal 500 2024 - Tier 1

"Doughty Street continues to be the powerhouse in this area – a great team."

"Doughty Street is a leading inquests and inquiries set, with real strength in depth."

"This set is very strong for human rights and inquest work – they have a broad range of barristers, all very skilled, but with a helpful cross-section of knowledge and experience across many different practice areas."

"An excellent set for public law and inquests."

Chambers and Partners 2024 - Band 1

"The clerking team are always helpful and professional. Stand-out individuals are Callum Stebbing and Freddie Wilkins."

Chambers and Partners 2023 - Band 1

"Doughty Street Chambers has an established reputation as a leader in the field of inquests and inquiries."

"The clerks are among the best I have worked with."

"Grace Walton is an excellent clerk who was always quick to respond and very helpful."

Legal 500 2023 - Tier 1

"Doughty Street has some of the best barristers doing inquest work. It is particularly good at covering a broad range of inquest work (police, prison, mental health and clinical negligence deaths), and generally has bright and committed barristers doing this work."

"Rightly a top-tier set for inquests, with barristers who are deeply committed to their clients’ interests."

"One of the country’s leading sets for counsel representing families in complex inquests, particularly where state agencies are involved."