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What to expect at court

If a coroner decides to hold an inquest you may need to attend court.

The senior next of kin will be provided with information about when and where the inquest will be held.

When the inquest begins, lawyers representing family members or other interested parties introduce themselves and identify who they represent. The coroner’s assistant or counsel assisting the coroner will then call the witnesses to give evidence.

The inquest proceeds as follows:

  • an opening summary will be read by the coroner
  • witnesses are sworn in
  • the witness statement may be read out
  • the coroner’s assistant or counsel assisting the coroner can then ask the witness questions
  • final submissions are heard
  • a finding is completed.

More information on how an inquest operates is found on our website.

Unless otherwise ordered by the coroner, the inquest finding and any recommendations and responses will be published on our website.

The length of an inquest depends on how complex the circumstances of the death or fire are and the number of witnesses and submissions. Some inquests may last a few hours, while others may take weeks or months.

Support Resources

Attending court hearings can be emotionally demanding for witnesses, family, and friends. This resource provides information about trauma, self-care and supports for witnesses, family and friends attending court. 

Last updated on 26 Oct 2023