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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 45: Coroners rules

310.This section enables Rules to be made by the Lord Chief Justice (or his or her nominee) as to the practice and procedure at or in connection with inquests and appeals to the Chief Coroner, thus separating out the inquest component of the senior coroner’s investigation. It replicates the power in section 32 of the 1988 Act.

311.Subsection (2) sets out particular matters about which rules can be made. These are as follows:

  • Subsection (2)(a) allows for rules regarding evidence including sworn and unsworn evidence;

  • Subsection (2)(b) allows for rules regarding discharging a jury and summoning a new jury;

  • Subsection (2)(c) concerns discharging inquests and holding fresh inquests;

  • Subsection (2)(d) concerns adjourning and resuming inquests;

  • Subsection (2)(e) would allow the senior coroner to direct that a person’s name should not be disclosed except to persons specified in the direction. It is anticipated that any provision made in rules for this discretion will be used sparingly, for example during inquests into the deaths of UK Special Forces personnel or other investigations where witnesses need to remain anonymous to protect their safety;

  • Subsection (2)(f) provides for rules relating to a senior coroner delegating his or her non-judicial functions:

  • Subsection (2)(g) permits rules about disclosure of information held by the senior coroner:

  • Subsection (2)(h) concerns excusing persons from jury service;

  • Subsection (2)(i) allows for rules that would clarify when the Coroner for Treasure should hold an inquest into a possible treasure find; and

  • Subsection (2)(j) allows for rules requiring permission to be given to an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

312.Subsection (3) sets out particular matters in relation to which rules can confer a power on a senior coroner or the Coroner for Treasure. Subsection (3)(a) would enable the coroner to decide that, if in his or her opinion the interests of national security required it, certain persons should be excluded from attending all or part of an inquest.

313.Subsection (3)(b) enables a senior coroner or the Coroner for Treasure to exclude persons from an inquest during the giving of evidence by a person aged under 18. A child or young person may find giving evidence at an inquest intimidating or traumatic. These powers would enable the coroner to be flexible about how evidence could be given.

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