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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Part 1 - Coroners

790.The 1953 Act is amended by paragraphs 6 to 21 of Schedule 21. Paragraphs 8(3)(e), (4) and (5) and 9(3)(c) and (d) and (4) change the time within which an informant is required to provide information for the registration of a death. Time begins to run from the date of confirmation by the medical examiner of the cause of death by virtue of section 18 of the Act or at the date of discontinuation of a coroner’s investigation under section 4 of the Act, rather than at the date of death. Paragraphs 8 and 9 also extend the categories of those who have a duty to give information for the registration of a death to include the partner of the deceased and the deceased’s personal representative. These terms are defined in the same way as in the list of interested persons given in section 47.

791.Paragraph 13 of Schedule 21 omits section 21 of the 1953 Act so that the Registrar General no longer needs to authorise the registration of a death where this is requested more than 12 months after the death. This provision is removed because all deaths will be reviewed either by a coroner or medical examiner under the provisions of Part 1 of the Act.

792.Paragraph 14 of Schedule 21 substitutes a new section 22 of the 1953 Act so as to remove the provisions for issuing medical certificates of cause of death. The provisions are replaced by powers in section 20 for the Secretary of State to make regulations for the certification of cause of death. Section 22 of the 1953 Act is also amended to require the registrar to record the cause of death where this is provided under regulations made under section 20. References to section 22 elsewhere in the 1953 Act are amended to refer to regulations under section 20.

793.Paragraph 18 of Schedule 21 amends section 29 of the 1953 Act so that an error of fact or substance in the cause of death recorded in an entry in a death register may not be corrected without the approval of the appropriate medical examiner or senior coroner where the recorded cause had been confirmed under section 20 or on discontinuance of an investigation under section 4 (following post-mortem).

794.Paragraph 19 inserts a section 33A into the 1953 Act, creating an entitlement to obtain (on payment of a fee) a short certificate of death. The inserted section is based on section 33 of the 1953 Act (short certificate of birth).

795.The majority of the remaining amendments relating to Part 1 pick up references to the term “inquest” in other legislation and replace these with references to “investigation” or pick up references to the 1988 Act and replace these with references to the provisions of the Act.

796.The 1996 Act is amended by paragraphs 37 to 42 of Schedule 21. Northern Ireland is subject to the 1996 Act and this will not change with the reforms; treasure and treasure trove cases will continue to be investigated by the local coroners in Northern Ireland. The amendments to the Treasure Act in relation to England and Wales are therefore disapplied for Northern Ireland (paragraphs 38, 39(5) and 41).

797.Under the amendment made by paragraph 40 the Secretary of State will be able to make an order, using the negative resolution procedure, which will designate specified officers to receive reports of treasure from finders, acquirers or any other person. The designated officer will then pass the information on to the Coroner for Treasure.

798.Paragraph 40 also amends the 1996 Act so as to increase the period for prosecuting a person for not reporting an item believed to be treasure by a finder to the Coroner for Treasure from six months to a maximum of three years. This period of prosecution will also apply to a breach of the duty to report on acquirers.

799.There is an amendment to the Human Tissue Act 2004 relating to coroners’ duties in respect of bodies prior to transplantation or other similar or related activities at paragraphs 47 to 50.

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