The Chief Coroner has given useful guidance on the use of hearsay evidence in the Coroner’s Court.
The Chief Coroner has issued a Law Sheet on the use of Hearsay Evidence in Coroner’s Courts. It is available here
THE KEY POINTS
- Hearsay evidence is admissible in coroner’s courts. Once it is admitted its value is a matter of weight in all the circumstances.
- Coroner’s are not bound by the strict law of evidence.
- Hearsay evidence (even anonymous hearsay evidence) cannot be excluded if the evidence is relevance. The question thereafter is how much weight should be given to that evidence.
- Section 4 of the Civil Evidence Act 1995 sets out helpful criteria which coroner’s may wish to follow.
- There is an overwhelming duty on coroners to act fairly. If hearsay evidence is controversial then first hand evidence should be called whenever possible.
- In jury cases specific instructions in relation to weight should be given by the coroner.
The Note also summarises useful cases on the weight of…
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