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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 5: Matters to be ascertained

77.This section sets out the purpose of a senior coroner’s investigation.

78.The two purposes of an investigation are: (1) to establish who the deceased was and how, when and where the deceased came by his or her death, and (2) to establish the details needed to register the death (such as the cause of death). These purposes were previously contained in rule 36(1) of the Coroners Rules 1984 (the 1984 Rules), and in section 11(5)(b) of the 1988 Act.

79.Subsection (2) requires the scope of the investigation to be widened to include an investigation of the broad circumstances of the death, including events leading up to the death in question, where this wider investigation is necessary to ensure compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), in particular Article 2. Article 2 relates to the State’s responsibility to ensure that its actions do not cause the death of its citizens. The Act does not define the precise circumstances where a coroner should conduct an Article 2 investigation. This will allow for flexibility in the future should case law determine that Article 2 inquests should extend to cover additional matters. Such information could, however, be contained in guidance issued by the Chief Coroner.

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