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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

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  • specified provision(s) amendment to earlier commencing SI 2010/145 Sch. para. 27(a) by S.I. 2010/186 art. 2
  • specified provision(s) amendment to earlier commencing SI 2010/816 art. 7(2) by S.I. 2011/722 art. 2(2)

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This sectionnoteType=Explanatory Notes has no associated

1In the Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959 (c. 15), for section 17 (witnesses to be summoned) substitute—N.I.

17APower to require evidence to be given or produced

(1)A coroner who proceeds to hold an inquest may by notice require a person to attend at a time and place stated in the notice and—

(a)to give evidence at the inquest,

(b)to produce any documents in the custody or under the control of the person which relate to a matter that is relevant to the inquest, or

(c)to produce for inspection, examination or testing any other thing in the custody or under the control of the person which relates to a matter that is relevant to the inquest.

(2)A coroner who is making any investigation to determine whether or not an inquest is necessary, or who proceeds to hold an inquest, may by notice require a person, within such period as the coroner thinks reasonable—

(a)to provide evidence to the coroner, about any matters specified in the notice, in the form of a written statement,

(b)to produce any documents in the custody or under the control of the person which relate to a matter that is relevant to the investigation or inquest, or

(c)to produce for inspection, examination or testing any other thing in the custody or under the control of the person which relates to a matter that is relevant to the investigation or inquest.

(3)A notice under subsection (1) or (2) shall—

(a)explain the possible consequences, under subsection (6), of not complying with the notice;

(b)indicate what the recipient of the notice should do if he wishes to make a claim under subsection (4).

(4)A claim by a person that—

(a)he is unable to comply with a notice under this section, or

(b)it is not reasonable in all the circumstances to require him to comply with such a notice,

is to be determined by the coroner, who may revoke or vary the notice on that ground.

(5)In deciding whether to revoke or vary a notice on the ground mentioned in subsection (4)(b), the coroner shall consider the public interest in the information in question being obtained for the purposes of the inquest, having regard to the likely importance of the information.

(6)A coroner may impose a fine not exceeding £1000 on a person who fails without reasonable excuse to do anything required by a notice under subsection (1) or (2).

(7)For the purposes of this section a document or thing is under a person's control if it is in the person's possession or if he has a right to possession of it.

(8)Nothing in this section shall prevent a person who has not been given a notice under subsection (1) or (2) from giving or producing any evidence, document or other thing.

17BGiving or producing evidence: further provision

(1)The power of a coroner under section 17A(6) is additional to, and does not affect, any other power the coroner may have—

(a)to compel a person to appear before him;

(b)to compel a person to give evidence or produce any document or other thing;

(c)to punish a person for contempt of court for failure to appear or to give evidence or to produce any document or other thing.

But a person may not be fined under that section and also be punished under any such other power.

(2)A person may not be required to give or produce any evidence or document under section 17A if—

(a)he could not be required to do so in civil proceedings in a court in Northern Ireland, or

(b)the requirement would be incompatible with a Community obligation.

(3)The rules of law under which evidence or documents are permitted or required to be withheld on grounds of public interest immunity apply in relation to an inquest as they apply in relation to civil proceedings in a court in Northern Ireland.

17COffences relating to evidence

(1)It is an offence for a person to do anything that is intended to have the effect of—

(a)distorting or otherwise altering any evidence, document or other thing that is given or produced for the purposes of any investigation or inquest under this Act, or

(b)preventing any evidence, document or other thing from being given or produced for the purposes of such an investigation or inquest,

or to do anything that the person knows or believes is likely to have that effect.

(2)It is an offence for a person—

(a)intentionally to suppress or conceal a document that is, and that the person knows or believes to be, a relevant document, or

(b)intentionally to alter or destroy such a document.

(3)For the purposes of subsection (2) a document is a “relevant document” if it is likely that a coroner making any investigation or holding an inquest would (if aware of its existence) wish to be provided with it.

(4)A person does not commit an offence under subsection (1) or (2) by doing anything that is authorised or required—

(a)by a coroner, or

(b)by virtue of section 17B(2) or (3) or any privilege that applies.

(5)Proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) or (2) may be instituted only by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland.

(6)A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or to both.

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