Two years on from the implementation of the coroner reforms introduced by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is carrying out a review of the impact the reforms have had - whether they are operating as planned and whether there have been any unintended consequences. BLM has shared its experiences for the review via the MOJ’s call for evidence.
BLM welcomed the reforms when they were proposed and has found, following their implementation, that there have been areas of great improvement, but others where further work is required.
In particular, there has been a significant improvement in the disclosure of information since the reforms have been implemented, with a lot of information now helpfully being disclosed electronically.
Unfortunately, in our experience, issues remain with regard to late notification of inquest arrangements and classification of individuals as Interested Persons. These issues can lead to delays and increased costs.
BLM has found the use of Pre-Inquest Reviews (PIRs) helpful in appropriate cases, setting a proper inquest timetable and assisting in identifying Interested Persons and disclosure requirements at an earlier stage. We consider that there is scope to increase the use of PIRs which could make the inquest process more streamlined and effective, and in turn reduce the need for adjournments at great expense.
The reforms were intended to create a unified, consistent approach, which we consider is yet to be achieved.
In short, a good start has been made, but there is still more work to be done.