Coroners Inquest Law
Sources of Coroners Law in England and Wales include:
- The Coroners Act 1988
- The Coroners Rules 1984
- The Coroners (Amendment) Rules 2004, 2005
- Case law
- The Treasure Act 2006
Coroners are independent judicial officers (akin to judges) and their services are funded by County Councils.
Coroners have a duty to examine all deaths falling within their local jurisdiction and determine the cause of death. Any unnatural or violent death must be examined at an inquest and a determination of the cause of death made. The coroner will come to a verdict and announce it in public, after evidence has been heard.
Coroners' verdicts can include:
- Natural Causes
- Natural Causes with an element of Neglect
- Unlawful Killing
- A Narrative Form - describing how a person met their death
Any person who is an interested party can be represented by a barrister at an inquest. An interested party can put questions to eye witnesses who might be able to assist the Coroner as to how the deceased met their death. Witnesses being called to give evidence at an inquest may also have legal representation.
Coroners can make recommendations, if they consider that action needs to be taken to prevent further deaths from occurring in a particular location or within an organisation or company.
Coroners also judicially consider whether an archeological find or chance find of something precious (such as coins or gold jewellery) is treasure trove, under the Treasure Act. Coroners also determine the compensation payable if it is treasure and has to be seized by the state for the public good (for example to be displayed in a museum).
Appeals can be made to overturn a verdict where new evidence is available to cast doubt on the coroner's verdict at an inquest. Such appeals can generally be made at any time.
Judical Review is available where a coroner has acted unreasonably, or outside of their jurisdiction and the law, or taken an irrational decision. An application for judicial review must usually be lodged within three months of a coroner's verdict.
Our Coroners Law Specialist Barristers here at Alexander Chambers can advise and assist on any of the above matters or novel points of coronial law. We offer stand alone legal advice on coroners law, if required. Alternatively, we can provide legal advice and act as advocates at the inquest to represent the interests of an interested party or witness.
Or here for our other Specialist Areas of Medical Law
Contact us in confidence without obligation on 0845 652 0451