Coronial Inquest Unit

Legal Aid NSW statewide specialist service.

The Coronial Inquest Unit is a statewide specialist service of Legal Aid NSW. We provide free legal advice and assistance in coronial matters, and we represent people at coronial inquests where legal aid has been granted.

We can provide you with advice about the Coroners Court or Coronial Inquests.

Usually, minor assistance or a grant of legal aid is provided to the deceased person's senior next of kin. In some circumstances, aid may be granted to someone other than the senior next of kin, provided they have a sufficient interest in the proceedings.

Legal aid is available for representation at inquests within NSW where a public interest test is satisfied, or in all cases involving the death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in custody.

Public interest matters

Legal aid is available for representation at coronial inquests in New South Wales where the public interest would be advanced by that representation.

Public interest is something of serious concern to the public at large, or a significant section of the public, such as a disadvantaged or marginalised group. For something to be of “public interest” it must amount to more than a private right or individual interest, although the two may coincide. Some examples of inquests likely to involve a public interest are:

  • a death in custody
  • a death of a child in DoCS care
  • a death in a psychiatric hospital
  • a death involving a matter of public safety

As well as making findings concerning the “cause and manner of death” of a person, one of the important functions of the Coroner’s Court is to make recommendations, where appropriate, to Government agencies and regulatory bodies, aimed at preventing future deaths in similar circumstances. Due to Legal Aid NSW's emphasis on public interest matters, providing assistance to the Court in relation to this role is an important feature of our work.

Indigenous deaths in custody

Consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, legal aid is also available in all matters which involve the death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in custody.

Advice and assistance

We give free independent advice about the Coroner’s Court and the Coronial Inquest process. This may include advice to a “person of interest” (ie a person who might face criminal charges as a result of the death) or a witness, although full representation at an inquest is usually not available.

We will advise you if you are eligible for further representation by way of a grant of legal aid. We will also refer you to other services or a private solicitor if required.


If you qualify for legal aid, we can represent you at a coronial inquest. Private solicitors may apply for a grant of legal aid to represent you, however most grants of aid will be provided to our in-house Coronial Inquest Unit.

We are a free service. If you are applying for legal aid, you will need to pass a means test, though in some cases we may exercise discretion.

Our service is located at the Central Sydney office, 323 Castlereagh St (corner of Hay St) Haymarket and is available from 9am to 5pm.

If you would like to make an application for legal aid for representation at an inquest or require some advice about the Coroner’s Court or coronial process please call the Coronial Inquest Unit on (02) 9219 5156 or (02) 9219 5000.

If you live in regional NSW you can also contact us through your local Legal Aid NSW office or call LawAccess NSW, our legal help line on 1300 888 529.