KNOW YOUR LAWS: About the Coroners Act/Inquest

KNOW YOUR LAWS: About the Coroners Act/Inquest

gty_courtroom_gavel_judge_mw_110908_wblog“Know you laws” is a production of the Press Office of the Royal St Lucia Police Force.

Did You Know?

According to the Coroners Act 2008 Chapter 2.16


(1) Any person who becomes aware of an unnatural death shall, as soon as practicable, give notice of the death to the nearest coroner or to a police officer at the nearest police station.

(2) Any police officer to whom a death is reported under subsection (1) shall, as soon as practicable, give notice of the death to the coroner of the district in which the body is.


(1) It shall not be mandatory for a coroner holding an inquest to view the dead body and the validity of such an inquest shall not be questioned in any court on the ground that the coroner did not view the body.

(2) The coroner shall, examine on oath concerning the death, all persons who tender evidence as to the facts of the death and all persons having knowledge of those facts who he or she considers it expedient to examine.

(3) The coroner shall, after hearing the evidence, give his or her verdict and certify it by an inquisition and inquire of and find the particulars required under the Civil Code to be registered concerning the death.

(4) An inquisition, which shall be in the form set out in the schedule, shall be in writing under the hand of the coroner and shall set out so far as such particulars have been proved, who the deceased person was and how and where he or she came by his or her death.

(5) At a coroner’s inquest into the death of a person who came by his or her death by murder, manslaughter or infanticide, the purpose of the proceedings shall not include the finding of any person guilty of the murder, manslaughter or infanticide and accordingly a coroner’s inquisition shall in no case charge a person with any of those offences.

(6) Where an inquest is held, the coroner shall, as soon as is practicable but in any event no later than 5 days after the findings of the inquest is given, send to the registrar of deaths of the district a certificate under his or her hand—
(a) giving information concerning the death;
(b) specifying the findings in respect of the particulars which for the time being are required under the Civil Code to be registered concerning the death;
(c) specifying the time and place at which the inquest was held.


When an unnatural death is reported to or comes to the knowledge of a coroner and the death—

(a) occurred in a prison or a correctional centre or other place of confinement for persons accused or convicted of any offence;

(b) occurred while the person was in police custody or resulted from an injury sustained by the person while in police custody;

(c) occured while the person was a resident of or a patient in a place for the treatment or rehabilitation of mentally disordered persons;

(d) was caused by an accident, poisoning or disease notice of which is required to be given under any Act;

(e) occurred in circumstances the continuance or possible recurrence of which is prejudicial to the health or safety of the public or any section of the public, the coroner shall hold an inquest with a jury and shall for that purpose proceed to summon a jury in the manner provided for under this Act.


(1) After hearing the evidence, the jury shall give its verdict and certify it in writing, setting out, so far as the particulars have been proved to them, who the dead person was and how, when and where he or she came to his or her death.

(2) The jury shall also inquire of and find the particulars for the time being required under the Civil Code to be registered concerning the death.

(3) A verdict or finding may be returned by the majority of the jurors.

(4) If at least 3 of the jurors cannot agree on a verdict, the coroner may record the findings of those facts, if any, that at least 3 of the jurors have agreed on.

(5) The coroner shall then submit to the Attorney General the evidence taken at the inquest, together with the findings of fact, if any, that at least 3 of the jurors have agreed on.

(6) The Attorney General may order the coroner to summon another jury to hold another inquest or may take other action that he or she considers proper.


An inquest shall be open to the public but the coroner may hold all or part of the hearing closed to the public—

(a) if the coroner is of the opinion that national security might be endangered; or

(b) if a person is charged with an indictable offence under the Criminal Code and relevant evidence about that person’s conduct may be given at the inquest.


(1) A person may apply to the Attorney General to have an inquest reopened on the grounds that new evidence has arisen or has been discovered after the conclusion of the proceedings by the coroner.

(2) The Attorney General may direct that the coroner reconsider the matter if he or she considers that the evidence referred to in subsection (1)—
(a) is substantial and material to the inquest; and
(b) did not exist at the time of the inquest or did exist at the time but was not discovered and could not through the exercise of due diligence have been discovered.

(3) The Attorney General may order an inquest or another inquest to be held concerning a death if he or she is satisfied—
(a) that a coroner refuses or neglects to hold an inquest that ought to be held; or
(b) if an inquest has been held, that it is necessary and desirable in the interest of justice that another inquest be held because of fraud, rejection of evidence, irregularity of proceedings, or otherwise.

(4) If the Attorney General orders another inquest, the coroner ordered to hold it has for that purpose, the same powers and jurisdiction as the coroner who held the first inquest.

This has been “Know Your Laws”. We at the Royal Saint Lucia Police force encourage the citizenry to read and study the laws which governs our society. Never forget that knowledge is power.


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