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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Paragraph 1 and 2: Power to require evidence to be given or produced

239.Paragraph 1 of Schedule 5 gives a senior coroner power to summon witnesses and to compel the production of evidence for the purposes of an investigation.

240.Under paragraph 1(1) a senior coroner may issue a notice requiring a person to attend at a given time and place to give evidence at an inquest or to produce any documents they have that are relevant to the inquest or to produce anything else they have that is relevant to the inquest so that it can be inspected, examined or tested.

241.Paragraph 1(2) provides that the senior coroner can also notify someone that they must provide the senior coroner with a written statement, or produce any documents or anything else they have that the senior coroner considers is relevant to the investigation.

242.Paragraph 1(3) sets out information which must be included in any notice that the senior coroner issues under paragraphs 1(1) or 1(2).

243.Paragraph 1(4) gives those to whom the senior coroner has issued a notice under paragraph 1(1) or (2) the right to claim that he or she is unable to comply with the notice or that it is not reasonable for the senior coroner to ask him or her to do so. The senior coroner can cancel or amend the notice on that ground.

244.Under paragraph 1(5), when deciding whether to cancel or amend the notice, the senior coroner has to take into account the public interest of that information being available to the investigation or inquest.

245.Under paragraph 1(6), a document or thing is defined as being under a person’s control if it is in that person’s possession or if they have a right to possession of it.

246.By paragraph 1(7), the notice is not limited by the coroner’s area and can therefore be issued to a person anywhere in England or Wales.

247.Paragraph 1(8) extends the powers under paragraph 1 to the Coroner for Treasure when carrying out treasure investigations. This allows the Coroner for Treasure to order a person to produce an object believed to be treasure for examination and testing, for example.

248.Paragraph 2 of Schedule 5 makes it clear that the senior coroner does not have the power to require anything to be provided to him or her that a person could not be required to provide to a civil court, mirroring the restriction on many information gathering powers contained in existing legislation. The senior coroner also does not have the power to require evidence to be provided if this would be incompatible with European Union law. It is also made clear that the rules of law in relation to public interest immunity apply equally in relation to investigations or inquests under Part 1 of the Act.

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