Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2002] All ER (D) 470 (Oct)
Court: Divisional Court

Kennedy LJ and Pitchers J

Representation Simon Freeland QC and Jason Beer (instructed by the Solicitor for the Metropolitan Police) for the claimant.
  James Goudie QC and Jason Coppel (instructed by Kath Nicholls, Lewisham Borough Council ) for New Cross Fire Parents Committee, interested parties.
  Charles Collins in person, an interested party.
  Ian Burnett (instructed by Deborah Holmes, Southwark Borough Council) for the coroner.
Judgment Dates: 31 October 2002


Coroners - Inquest - Appointment and deployment of deputy coroners - Construction of 'absence for any lawful or reasonable cause' - s 7(1)(b).

The Case

On their true construction the words of s7(1)(b) which spoke of the coroner's 'absence for any lawful or reasonable cause' was to bear the meaning of 'lawful absence from performance of his normal duties' for example because of the carrying out of other coronial work. Such an interpretation was consistent with the objectives of the statute which had to include the just and expeditious disposal of the work of a coroner. It followed that s7 allowed the coroner to appoint a deputy while she was undertaking a new inquest if the burdens of that inquest would prevent her carrying out her other duties. Moreover, the deputy might, in the words of the section, 'act for the coroner' which would include the out of court duties.

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