The purpose and scope of coroners’ inquests: introductory guide for practitioners
Produced in partnership with James Robottom of Matrix Chambers

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with James Robottom of Matrix Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The purpose and scope of coroners’ inquests: introductory guide for practitioners
  • Reporting deaths to a coroner
  • Understanding the coroners’ courts
  • The structure of the coroner’s courts
  • The legislative framework
  • Terminology
  • Duties of a coroner
  • The purpose of an inquest
  • The scope of an inquest
  • Traditional scope
  • More...

The purpose and scope of coroners’ inquests: introductory guide for practitioners

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance impacted by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020). CA 2020, among other measures, relaxes the rules relating to the required notification of a death to a coroner. See: CA 2020, s 18 and Sch 13. The Chief Coroner has also published a number of guidance notes on the impact of the pandemic on inquests which can be accessed here. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the criminal justice system—overview and Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

Reporting deaths to a coroner

Not all deaths are referred to a coroner. A coroner must be informed that the body of a person is within their area where 'there is reason to suspect' that:

  1. the deceased died a violent or unnatural death

  2. the cause of the death is unknown, or

  3. the deceased was in the custody of the state, ie:

    1. prison

    2. police custody

    3. immigration detention centre

There is a distinction to be drawn between a death which must be reported to a coroner and the process of a coroner opening an investigation into a death under section 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (CJA 2009). The Notification of Deaths Regulations 2019, SI 2019/1112, set out the circumstances in which a registered

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