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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Paragraph 6: Exhumation of body for examination

258.Paragraph 6 of Schedule 5 sets out the powers of a senior coroner to order the exhumation of a body. This paragraph, to a great extent, replicates section 23 of the 1988 Act.

259.Paragraph 6(2) enables a senior coroner to order the exhumation of the body of a person buried in England and Wales if the senior coroner thinks it is necessary for a post-mortem examination to be made of the body. Although a senior coroner may order the exhumation of a body buried anywhere in England and Wales, it is likely that a senior coroner will only order the exhumation of a body if it is within that coroner’s area. This is because the senior coroner will only have jurisdiction to investigate the death due to the initial presence of the body within his or her area. The exceptions to this are where another senior coroner has been asked to conduct an investigation under section 2; the Chief Coroner has directed another senior coroner to conduct an investigation under section 3 or a fresh investigation is ordered after an appeal. A coroner will in all cases have power to order the exhumation of a body for purposes of a post-mortem examination under section 14 even if the body is not within his or her area.

260.Paragraph 6(3) enables a senior coroner to order exhumation of a body buried within his or her coroner area if the senior coroner thinks it necessary for the body to be examined for the purpose of any criminal proceedings or possible criminal proceedings in respect of the death of that person or another person who died in circumstances connected to that person’s death.

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