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Coroners Act 1988

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Version Superseded: 28/03/2009

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8 Duty to hold inquest.E+W

(1)Where a coroner is informed that the body of a person (“the deceased”) is lying within his district and there is reasonable cause to suspect that the deceased—

(a)has died a violent or an unnatural death;

(b)has died a sudden death of which the cause is unknown; or

(c)has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest under any other Act,

then, whether the cause of death arose within his district or not, the coroner shall as soon as practicable hold an inquest into the death of the deceased either with or, subject to subsection (3) below, without a jury.

(2)In the case of an inquest with a jury—

(a)the coroner shall summon by warrant not less than seven nor more than eleven persons to appear before him at a specified time and place, there to inquire as jurors into the death of the deceased; and

(b)when not less than seven jurors are assembled, they shall be sworn by or before the coroner diligently to inquire into the death of the deceased and to give a true verdict according to the evidence.

(3)If it appears to a coroner, either before he proceeds to hold an inquest or in the course of an inquest begun without a jury, that there is reason to suspect—

(a)that the death occured in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest under any other Act;

(b)that the death occurred while the deceased was in police custody, or resulted from an injury caused by a police officer in the purported execution of his duty;

(c)that the death was caused by an accident, poisoning or disease notice of which is required to be given under any Act to a government department, to any inspector or other officer of a government department or to an inspector appointed under section 19 of the M1Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; or

(d)that the death occurred in circumstances the continuance or possible recurrence of which is prejudicial to the health or safety of the public or any section of the public,

he shall proceed to summon a jury in the manner required by subsection (2) above.

(4)If it appears to a coroner, [F1before he proceeds to hold an inquest, on resuming an inquest begun with a jury after the inquest has been adjourned and the jury discharged] or in the course of an inquest begun without a jury, that there is any reason for summoning a jury, he may proceed to summon a jury in the manner required by subsection (2) above.

(5)In the case of an inquest or any part of an inquest held without a jury, anything done by or before the coroner alone shall be as validly done as if it had been done by or before the coroner and a jury.

(6)Where an inquest is held into the death of a prisoner who dies within a prison, neither a prisoner in the prison nor any person engaged in any sort of trade or dealing with the prison shall serve as a juror at the inquest.

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F1Words in s. 8(4) substituted (1.1.2000) by 1999 c. 22, s. 71(2) (with s. 107, Sch. 14 para. 7(2)); S.I. 1999/3344, art. 2(b)

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