New Chief Coroner’s Guidance

24 January 2019

The Chief Coroner, His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC, has published new Guidance on Judge-led inquests, to be known as “Guidance No 30”. It is published on his website and has been circulated to all coroners.  Please see here. 

The Guidance primarily addresses the transfer of an inquest from the jurisdiction of a coroner to that of a judge, thereby discharging the relevant senior coroner from his or her duty to conduct an investigation. 

Most significantly, the Guidance concerns inquests in which security sensitive material (including intercept-related material) falls to be considered. This is the first time that open Guidance has been published on this topic by the Chief Coroner; prior to HH Judge Lucraft QC assuming the office of Chief Coroner, there was Guidance on sensitive material which was published confidentially to coroners and not available to lawyers and the public.

The Guidance further explores the topic of two-stage disclosure, as discussed in the Chief Coroner’s Law Sheet No. 3 on the Worcestershire case.  The Chief Coroner considers the principles as they particularly relate to sensitive material, and the interplay with the assertion of Public Interest Immunity (PII).

Also addressed is the narrow category of material which cannot be disclosed to a coroner at all, but which may only be disclosed to a judge who has been nominated to hear an inquest, as in Schedule 10 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA). The Guidance takes into account the recent amendments to IPA which permit the disclosure of material governed by IPA to a security-cleared legal adviser acting as Solicitor or Counsel to the Inquest. Where an inquest is to be heard by a coroner, the existence of material governed by IPA may be disclosed to the coroner, but the material itself may not be.

Finally, the Guidance discusses the process for nominating a judge under IPA in cases of national security, as well as the cases in which it is appropriate to appoint a judge to be an assistant coroner. 

A significant number of Members of 5 Essex Chambers are security vetted, to DV and SC Level. Members of Chambers often act in cases concerning matters of national security and have extensive experience as Counsel to the Inquest in such cases. 

 


Authors

Jason Beer KC

Call 1992 | Silk 2011

Fiona Barton KC

Call 1986 | Silk 2011

Anne Studd KC

Call 1988 | Silk 2012

Samantha Leek KC

Call 1993 | Silk 2012

Francesca Whitelaw KC

Call 2003 | Silk 2023

Charlotte Ventham KC

Call 2001 | Silk 2024

Charles Apthorp

Call 1983

Alison Hewitt

Call 1984

Andrew Waters

Call 1987

Simon Walsh

Call 1987

John-Paul Waite

Call 1995

Bilal Rawat

Call 1995

Melvyn Harris

Call 1997

Alastair Hodge

Call 1997

Daniel Hobbs

Call 1998

Barnabas Branston

Call 1999

Russell Fortt

Call 1999

Claire Palmer

Call 2003

Beatrice Collier

Call 2004

Mark Thomas

Call 2006

Georgina Wolfe

Call 2006

Rob Harland

Call 2006

Jonathan Dixey

Call 2007

Peter Taheri

Call 2007

Saara Idelbi

Call 2008

Cicely Hayward

Call 2009

Robert Cohen

Call 2009

Robert Talalay

Call 2010

Alex Ustych

Call 2010

Amy Clarke

Call 2010

Catriona Hodge

Call 2012

Alice Meredith

Call 2013

Aaron Moss

Call 2013

John Goss

Call 2015

Peter Laverack

Call 2015

Molly Joyce

Call 2016

David Messling

Call 2017

Dr Stephen Allen

Dr Stephen Allen

Call 1982

John Bassett

Call 1975

Related areas

Inquests

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