This 1987 report pointed out that there was "profound uncertainty" in the existing law governing the coroner's office and made a number of recommendations for change which proposed reforms concerning the law and procedure governing coroners' work. The report recommends that a list of the type of deaths which must be reported to the coroner should be prescribed by statute. A duty to report any such death should be imposed on, among others, the doctor certifying the death, the Registrar of Births and Deaths and the police
To facilitate the investigation into a coroner's case, the report recommends establishing a team of investigators, headed by a legally qualified chief coroner's officer, under the control of the coroner. The team would investigate coronial cases independently and free from outside interference. Coroners should be given statutory power of search and seizure to enable them to look for and take away any evidence and, in the case of medical records, to obtain temporary possession of these for photocopying purposes.
The report also recommends that any person whose conduct is likely to be called into question at an inquest should be given notice of this fact. Coroners should cease to have the power to charge a person with any homicide offence or to issue a warrant for committal to prison of any person.
The Attorney General should no longer have power to require a coroner to re-open an inquest but he should retain the power to direct that an inquest be held. The High Court should be given express power, on the application of any interested person, and in the public interest, to order that an inquest be held. Where an inquest has been held, the Court should be empowered to quash the finding of that inquest and order a new inquest where it is necessary or desirable in the interests of justice.
The Coroners Ordinance was enacted in 1997 to implement the Commission's recommendations.
|Press Release (PDF) (MS Word)|
|Report (PDF) (MS Word)|