Flashcards in X Media Law: 12 Reporting inquests Deck (28):
what is (and is not) the purpose of an inquest?
- find out who the deceased is
- find out how they died
- NOT to apportion blame
which legislation updated inquest laws?
- Coroners and Justice Act 2009
what kinds of death go to inquest (CJA)
- cause of death unknown
- violent or unnatural
- died in custody or other state of detention
fraction of deaths that go to inquest
- 1 in 20
who presides over a coroner's hearing
- a coroner (duh)
who used to be coroners?
- senior doctors
how has CJA changed coroners?
- provides a hierarchy of coroners
- now need to meet same requirements as a judge
new coroner hierarchy
- Senior Coroners
- Area Coroners
- Assistant Coroners
instances where juries used in coroners court
- died in custody/detention AND death unnatural or unknown
- death caused due to omission of police duty
- caused by 'notifiable' accident, poisoning or disease
- if coroner deems 'sufficient reason' to use jury
DEF: 'notifiable' disease
- a disease that an Act has deemed 'notifiable'
stages of coroner's hearing
- first hearing: soon after death, then adjourned for investigations
- second hearing: coroner asks witnesses questions, etc.
why is questioning at coroners different to criminal case?
- aimed at finding truth (not defence/prosecution)
- relatives or implicated parties can also ask questions
common terms in inquest verdicts
- natural causes
- lawful killing
- unlawful killing
- dependence on drugs
- want of attention at birth
- accident or misadventure
- industrial disease
- open verdict
DEF: alternative (more flexible) option for verdict
- 'narrative verdict' (explaining circumstances of death)
action taken when organisation involved in death
- s43 CJA 2009
- coroner sends report highlight organisation's failings
- 56 days to reply, explaining how they've met failings
- MoJ has started posting these response online
how do inquests relate to criminal proceedings?
- inquest opened for simple ID and cause of death
- then closed until after criminal proceedings
- not usually reopened unless criminal proceedings didn't sufficiently deal with death (e.g. case didn't finish)
what happens when a number of people die in a major incident
- public inquiry opened into incident
- Lord Chancellor can direct closing of any inquests into individual deaths (usually not reopened)
what can 'interested persons' appeal at inquest (CJA)
- investigation into death in the first place
- discontinue investigation
- rule out post-mortem examination
- summon jury
- exclude people from all/part of hearing
what is the other, totally different, role of coroner?
- deciding ownership of valuable archaeological finds
when are coroners inquests NOT open?
- coroner decides national security issue
- CJA: ministers can decide sensitive deaths can be looked at by judicial inquiry (behind closed doors)
who informs media of inquest?
- no statutory right to be informed
- BUT coroners should make efforts to ensure press (especially local papers) are informed
are inquests covered by contempt of court?
- considered active when inquest opens (even if posted indefinitely)
- if inquest precedes criminal trial, it is NOT contempt to report on it
- BUT if report then affects case (e.g. has to move location) publisher might be liable for the costs
does defamation apply in inquests?
- covered by absolute privilege
- anything can be reported so long as it's fair, accurate and contemporaneous
what sections from contempt legislation can be applied to coroners inquest?
- s4(2) and s11 orders (CCA 1981)
- s39 (CYPA 1933)
what are the rules on written evidence?
- Rule 37 in Coroners Rules 1984
- evidence can be in written form is unlikely to be controversial
- coroner must read name then read statement aloud
- discretion to not read statement (e.g. suicide notes and psychiatric reports)
who's the best press contact at coroners court?
- coroners officer (police officer attached to court)
PCC guidelines on reporting inquests
- discretion, sympathy, sensitivity
- suicides: no excessive detail about the act