Discussion paper on new Coroners Reform Bill

Thursday 14 December 2006

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A new paper from Garden Court Chambers offers an introduction to the proposed new Coroners Reform Bill. Leslie Thomas from Garden Court’s civil team has written 'Reforming the investigative process into deaths in custody' which was presented at a seminar at Garden Court in November 2006.

The paper discusses the key questions and issues around the Coroners Reform Bill and whether the proposed changes will improve the system. It addresses the five key reforms to the inquest system proposed in the Bill:

  • a Coroners Charter which will set out guidelines and standards which coroners will be expected to follow
  • national leadership in the guise of a ‘Chief Coroner’ and support staff
  • the introduction of professional legally qualified full-time coroners
  • the modernisation of the investigation process and the inquest itself
  • the imposition of new limitations on the reporting of certain cases.

The Bill was dropped from the Queen's Speech this year and will not be introduced in this parliamentary session. Despite this, the Government has stated that it remains committed to coroner reform. Harriet Harman, Minister of State at the Department of Constitutional Affairs, has said that the Government intends to “provide a better service for bereaved people, to establish national standards through the leadership of a Chief Coroner and to ensure improved powers for coroners to enable them to carry out more effective investigations and inquests."

INQUEST will be lobbying for changes to the Bill and push for interim measures to tackle the problems of delay and public funding. The organisation is also researching options for the broadening out of proceedings for Article 2 inquests. 

Please Click Here to view Leslie's Paper


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