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Funeral Director Budleigh Salterton
The Scope And Purpose Of An Inquest
The sole purpose of an inquest is to answer four critical questions:
  • Identity of the deceased individual;
  • Place of death;
  • Time of death; and
  • How the deceased came by his or her death.


Evidence: must be solely for the purpose of answering each of these questions and, no additional or other evidence can be admitted.

It is not for the inquest to investigate 'in what broad circumstances' or 'how the deceased died.' Additionally, it is not the purpose of the inquest to ascertain, or appear to determine, civil or criminal liability, to attribute blame or apportion guilt.

See Verdicts below.


Inquests are governed by the Coroner's Rules, whereby the Coroner gives notice to close relatives, those entitled to examine witnesses and those whose conduct is most likely to be scrutinised.

Except where there are significant issues of national security, inquests are held in public.

Those with an interest in the proceedings, such as those appearing as witnesses, relatives of the deceased, and individuals or organisations who may face some form of responsibility in the death of the individual, may be represented by lawyers.

This can only be possible with the content, and at the discretion of, the coroner. Additionally, witnesses may be compelled to testify subject to the privilege against self-incrimination.

Verdicts: The following verdicts are not mandatory but are strongly recommended:

Category 1

  • Natural causes;
  • Dependency on drugs or non-dependent abuse of drugs;
  • Industrial diseases;
  • Want of attention at birth;
  • Self neglect or a lack of care

Category 2

  • Suicide;
  • Accident or misadventure;
  • Attempted or self-induced abortion;
  • Execution of sentence of death;
  • Open verdict (cause of death unstated or unknown);
  • Lawful killing (formerly referred to as 'justifiable homicide')

Category 3- Unlawful killing

  • Murder;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Infanticide;

Category 4

  • Still birth.

If an open verdict is returned, the inquest can be reopened if it is found that new evidence has come to light and presented to the coroner. More detailed information is available online.

  At Exmouth & District Funeral Services, we realise that this is an unusual and difficult time for you. As such, your contact with us is a personal and professional priority. Our primary goal is to be available to you and perform the professional and caring service needed, in order to reduce the burden to you and your family.  
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