January 31, 2014

Coronial inquests

The role of the NSW Coroner is to investigate certain deaths, fires and explosions. Some of the primary issues for coronial inquests in relation to a death include identification of the deceased person, and identification of the cause and manner of death.

It is advisable that you seek legal advice and representation if, for example:

  • you are the family of the deceased person;
  • you have been notified by the Registry of the Coroner’s Court that your interests may be adversely affected by the proceedings; or
  • you have been notified by the Registry of the Coroner’s Court that you might be the subject of criticism in the course of the proceedings.

If any of the above apply to you, it is likely that you will be provided with a copy of the brief and be given the opportunity to identify issues that you wish the coroner to consider and witnesses that you wish the coroner to call. A lawyer can assist and advise you in relation to this process.

If you give evidence, you may be at risk of incriminating yourself. The coroner cannot find you guilty of a crime. However, he or she can make a referral to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP). If you have been notified by the Registry of the Coroner’s Court that your interests may be adversely affected, it is strongly advisable that you seek legal representation. The decision whether to give evidence or object on the ground of self-incrimination is a delicate one. Your legal representative will protect your interests at the proceedings. O’Brien Solicitors provides these services.