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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 35 and Schedule 8: Chief Coroner and Deputy Chief Coroners

270.The Act creates the offices of Chief Coroner and Deputy Chief Coroners, who will be responsible for hearing appeals against decisions of coroners, for establishing and overseeing national performance standards, and for providing leadership to the service in general. They may also conduct investigations. The Government intends to have one full time Chief Coroner and one full time Deputy Chief Coroner, and to appoint others as Deputy Chief Coroners to assist, if required, in particular to hear appeals.

271.Section 35 also gives effect to Schedule 8, which makes provision for the appointment of the Chief Coroner and Deputy Chief Coroners and their respective terms of office, and specifies further functions.

272.Under paragraph 1 of Schedule 8, a person has to be a High Court or Circuit judge under the age of 70 to be eligible for appointment as Chief Coroner.

273.Paragraph 2 of Schedule 8 sets out the eligibility criteria and appointment process for Deputy Chief Coroners; it requires appointees to be under the age of 70 and be a High Court or Circuit judge, the Coroner for Treasure or a senior coroner. It also specifies that the Lord Chief Justice will consult the Lord Chancellor as to the number of Deputy Chief Coroners that are needed, and how many of these should be judges, and how many should be senior coroners.

274.Paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 8 states that the Lord Chief Justice will (after consulting the Lord Chancellor) appoint Circuit or High Court judges as Deputy Chief Coroners. By paragraph 2(5) the term of appointment will be decided by the Lord Chief Justice after consulting the Lord Chancellor. Paragraph 2(6) provides that the Lord Chancellor, at the invitation of the Lord Chief Justice, will be responsible for appointing senior coroners as Deputy Chief Coroners. The Lord Chancellor will make appointments following a Judicial Appointments Commission process and will decide the term after consulting the Lord Chief Justice.

275.There is a retirement age of 70 for the Chief and Deputy Chief Coroners. This Schedule also sets out the arrangements for vacation of the office, resignation, removal from office and remuneration. It also provides for the Chief Coroner and Deputy Chief Coroners to be indemnified for costs they incur in connection with legal proceedings arising from the carrying out of their duties and exercise of their powers, damages awarded against them, and in costs ordered to be paid by them in connection with such proceedings.

276.Schedule 8 also provides for a Deputy Chief Coroner to perform the functions of the Chief Coroner if the latter is absent or unavailable, the office is vacant or otherwise with the Chief Coroner’s consent, and allows the Lord Chancellor to appoint staff to assist the Chief and Deputy Chief Coroners.

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