In England and Wales, legal aid can be provided if the matter or issue in question is within scope of the legal aid scheme, as defined in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).
Legal aid is available for advice and assistance for all inquests, subject to a means and merits test. Legal aid funding for legal representation for a family, during an inquest hearing, is not in scope of LASPO. However, families are supported by coroners who can ask questions on their behalf to help them get the answers they need and we are developing a range of measures to improve this service further.
The Government recognises that for certain inquests, bereaved people may require representation; legal aid may therefore be available, through the Exceptional Case Funding scheme, if certain criteria are met:
(a) if a failure to provide such representation would breach, or likely risk a breach of, the government’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights, usually Article 2; or
(b) where the Director of Legal Aid Casework (DLAC) makes a determination that there is a ‘wider public interest’ in legal representation being granted.
All individual case funding decisions are taken by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). It is important that these decisions are, and are seen to be, free from political and Government influence.