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6. Civil law matters - when legal aid is available

6.12. Coronial Inquests into Deaths

6.12.1 Legal aid is available for Coronial Inquest matters

Legal aid may be available for a coronial inquest matter if:

  • it is a preliminary step to civil proceedings for which legal aid is available, or
  • the public interest would be advanced if the applicant was represented at the inquest, or
  • it is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander death in custody.

6.12.2 What is a “Coronial Inquest matter”?

A coronial inquest matter includes any one of the following:

  • Representation at an inquest
    • holding an inquest
    • reviewing a decision declining to hold an inquest, or
    • reviewing a decision dispensing with an inquest.
  • The making of a submission to the Coroner, the State Coroner or the Supreme Court of NSW in relation to:
    • the making of a request for the review of a decision or the making of an interlocutory application to the Coroner and/or State Coroner during the inquest, or
    • any interlocutory appeals and/or applications to the Supreme Court necessary for the proper conduct of the inquest.

6.12.3 When Coronial Inquest is a preliminary step to civil proceedings

Legal aid is available for a coronial inquest matter where representation at the inquest is a preliminary step to civil proceedings.

For legal aid to be granted in these types of matters the following tests must be satisfied:

Applying Merit Test A

When determining the merit of an inquest matter the determining officer should take into consideration:

  • the applicant's relationship to the deceased, and
  • whether the deceased's family will be represented at the inquest if legal aid is not granted.

6.12.4 Coronial Inquests – public interest matters

Legal aid is available for a coronial inquest matter where the public interest would be advanced by representing the applicant. Some examples of the types of inquests that might give rise to a public interest are those involving the:

  • Death of a child in a childcare centre
  • Death of a person in police custody
  • Death of a person in a psychiatric hospital
  • Death of a person in a juvenile justice centre
  • Death of a person in a community welfare centre

See Civil Law Guideline 3.14 on the meaning of public interest.

For legal aid to be granted in a coronial inquest matter where the public interest would be advanced by representing the applicant, the following tests must be satisfied:

Applying Merit Test A

When determining the merit of an inquest matter the following issues should be taken into consideration:

  • the applicant's relationship to the deceased, and
  • whether the deceased's family will be represented at the inquest if legal aid is not granted.

6.12.5 Coronial Inquests- death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in custody

Legal aid is available for a coronial inquest matter where it involves the death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in custody.

For legal aid to be granted the following tests must be satisfied:

Applying Merit Test A

When determining the merit of an inquest matter the following issues should be taken into consideration:

  • the applicant's relationship to the deceased, and
  • whether the deceased's family will be represented at the inquest if legal aid is not granted.

For further information on coronial inquests see the coronial inquest unit website.

Date last published: 07/05/2018