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When someone dies unnaturally, it is incumbent on the justice system to provide a proper framework in order to understand what has happened and to seek to prevent its recurrence. The most common way in which it does so is by holding an inquest. The law relating to inquests, which must encompass both catastrophic events such as the Hillsborough Disaster and those on a lesser scale (albeit equally distressing to those who have lost loved ones) is by no means straightforward. Many of us think it ripe for comprehensive reform (as the recent Justice report, ‘When Things Go Wrong: the response of the justice system’ suggests).
In the meantime I welcome wholeheartedly this new publication dealing with the coronial system. Richard Baker, Rose Harvey-Sullivan, James Robottom and James Weston are to be congratulated on editing so readable and practical a publication. Its breadth is admirable. Every aspect of inquests is covered, from the investigation, to the hearing, to the conclusions and consequential events. Even the important topic of funding and costs is not omitted. The often difficult issue of the relationship between inquests and other proceedings, such as prosecutions, civil proceedings, and in cases of catastrophic events, public inquiries is also comprehensively dealt with.
What any busy practitioner will particularly welcome are the ‘Practical Guides,’ which feature towards the end of the text.
While obviously written with the practitioner in mind, anyone who has to give evidence will also find it helpful reading in order to understand their role in context.
In short, this is a new important reference source for any practitioner in this area of the law. It should be on the shelf of all those whose work involves inquests.
The first edition of LexisNexis’ Coroners' Investigations and Inquests, edited by James Robottom, Rose Harvey-Sullivan, James Weston and Richard Baker, will publish 15th March 2021.
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