Sarah Bourke

I have represented many bereaved families in Inquests.  I take a particular interest in Inquests involving institutions such as the police, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I am a member of the Inquest Lawyers Group and the Association of Prison Lawyers. 

I know that families often have questions regarding the care and support that their relative received whilst in custody and I am familiar with the policies and procedures operated by major institutions. I take a particular interest in cases involving mental health problems and drug or alcohol dependency. 

Inquest proceedings can be very daunting for families who are grieving. Many of my clients have not had any contact with the legal system before. The legal issues and evidence can appear complex and confusing. I am used to helping clients identify their concerns and ensure that all relevant  issues are investigated by the Coroner and the jury.

My approach

I take a pragmatic and practical approach to disputes. I know that the cost of legal representation can be daunting for many people. I understand that people need realistic advice on the strength of their case and whether going to court will achieve their desired outcome. Most of the people that I work with have not had any dealings with the legal system before, so I am a big believer in giving clear advice in plain English!

My work

I have acted for families in a number of high profile inquest cases involving deaths in prison, police and mental health custody. I have also dealt with inquests into suspicious deaths such as the death of Judge Andrew Chubb.

Recent cases include: 

I recently represented the family of a man who took his life whilst at court. The jury found that the different protocols operated by the police and court security contractors regarding the retention of outdoor coats contributed to his death. The Coroner is planning to make a r. 28 report to prevent future deaths.  

I recently represented the family of a prisoner who died as a result of the misuse of prescribed and illicit drugs whilst in custody. 

I acted for the family of an elderly woman who died of rare complications following routine surgery. The inquest examined the quality of her care and resolved all of the family's queries and concerns regarding her treatment in hospital. 

About me

I have been a barrister for nearly 20 years. I started my legal career at a busy law centre in North London. I joined Michael Mansfield's chambers in 2006 where I developed a practice in prisoners' rights and inquest law. 

I have personal experience of the Inquest process which has given me a good understanding of the issues faced by other grieving families. 

I am an accredited mediator. I am also a part-time judge in the Social Security Appeals Tribunals.

What my clients say

"Sarah was, for me, exceptional in several ways: a supreme capacity for understanding every tiny nuance of a complex case incredibly quickly, an unerringly calm, upbeat, can-do approach - unfazed by whatever was thrown at her - and a total focus on how to win the case. Strategic, sensible, straight down the line. I trusted her completely and she proved my instincts right. We won." - Client, London

Professional & academic

LLB with advanced studies, University College London 1994

I am a member of the following professional organisations: 

  • Association of Prison Lawyers
  • Inquest Lawyers Group

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