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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Chapter 4:  Investigations concerning Treasure
Section 25 and Schedule 4:  Coroner for Treasure and Assistant Coroners for Treasure

224.This section gives effect to Schedule 4 which sets out the procedure for the appointment of the new Coroner for Treasure, qualifications required and terms of office. It also makes provision for the exercise of the Coroner for Treasure’s functions by assistant coroners who are designated as Assistant Coroners for Treasure.

Part 1 – Appointment, qualifications and terms of office of Coroner for Treasure

225.Paragraph 1 allows the Lord Chancellor to appoint a person as the Coroner for Treasure. This is a new role; the Coroner for Treasure will investigate all finds believed to be treasure or treasure trove from across England and Wales. Although he or she will have an office in a particular location, the location for any inquest required as part of a treasure investigation will take into account the convenience of interested persons, including the finder and the landowner.

226.The qualification to become the Coroner for Treasure will be the same legal qualification that is used for senior coroners (paragraph 2). Senior coroners will therefore be able to apply to become the Coroner for Treasure.

227.Paragraphs 3 to 6 set out how the Coroner for Treasure may vacate the office and how the Lord Chancellor may, with the Lord Chief Justice’s agreement, remove the Coroner for Treasure for incapacity or misbehaviour. They also provide for the Lord Chancellor to remunerate the Coroner for Treasure as appropriate.

Part 2 – Designation and remuneration of Assistant Coroners for Treasure

228.One or more assistant coroners will be designated as Assistant Coroners for Treasure (paragraph 7). They will cease to be Assistant Coroners for Treasure if they cease to be assistant coroners (paragraph 9).

Part 3 – Miscellaneous

229.Under paragraph 11, an Assistant Coroner for Treasure may undertake any of the functions of the Coroner for Treasure, should he or she be absent or unavailable or with the consent of the Coroner for Treasure. The Lord Chancellor will also be able to appoint staff to carry out the administrative functions related to treasure investigations (paragraph 12).

Section 26:  Investigations concerning treasure

230.The Coroner for Treasure will investigate items which are reported to his or her office under section 8 of the Treasure Act 1996 (1996 Act), and may do so if there is suspicion about an object which has not been reported. This will be to establish whether or not the object is treasure or treasure trove, and if so, who found it, where and when it was found.

231.Subsection (6) sets out that senior coroners, area coroners and assistant coroners have no functions in relation to these objects, unless the assistant coroner has been designated as an Assistant Coroner for Treasure. This means that there will be a single reporting point for all treasure finds across England and Wales, and a single point of investigation.

Section 27:  Inquests concerning treasure

232.As part of an investigation, the Coroner for Treasure may hold an inquest into an object; many treasure investigations do not however require an inquest. Subsection (2) requires the Coroner for Treasure to hold the inquest without a jury unless there is sufficient reason for one. The number of jurors and the way in which the jury will arrive at its determination mirrors the provisions for death investigations in sections 8 and 9.

Section 28:  Outcome of investigations concerning treasure

233.This section sets out how the Coroner for Treasure must make treasure determinations, depending on the type of investigation.

Section 29:  Exception to duty to investigate

234.This section extends the circumstances in which the Crown or relevant franchisee may disclaim title to an object to allow notice to be given to the Coroner for Treasure disclaiming the title before it is determined that the object is treasure. The finder in these circumstances would not be compensated under the treasure valuation system, but the object would be returned to the finder for them to dispose of as they see fit. Franchisees – where the item will vest in the franchisee rather than the Crown – are the Duchy of Cornwall, the Duchy of Lancaster, the Corporation of the City of London and the City of Bristol.

Section 30: Duty to notify Coroner for Treasure etc of acquisition of certain objects

235.This section inserts a new section 8A into the 1996 Act, imposing a duty on acquirers of objects which might be treasure to report them to the Coroner for Treasure. The object will be investigated and the usual determinations made about when, where and by whom it was found, and whether it is treasure. The acquirer – who might have bought the object, been given it or had it bequeathed to them – will be able to receive a reward from the Treasure Valuation Committee. Breach of the duty could lead to prosecution, with the penalties, on the commencement of section 280(2) of the 2003 Act, of 51 weeks imprisonment, a level 5 fine, or both.

Section 31:  Code of practice under the Treasure Act 1996

236.Subsection (1) allows the 1996 Act Code of Practice to be amended to make provision for circumstances where an object is disclaimed under section 29.

237.Subsection (2) ensures that the Coroner for Treasure (or an Assistant Coroner for Treasure acting on his or her behalf) will not be liable in the civil courts if he or she acts in accordance with the Code of Practice.

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