What is the Coroners Court?

The Coroners Court is a specialist court presided by a Coroner who has coercive powers to actively investigate the factual circumstances surrounding certain deaths, and to make recommendations relating to public safety or the administration of justice.

Robinson Gill’s police misconduct team has experience representing the families and interested parties in the Coroners Court, in cases involving:

  • Deaths in police custody;
  • Deaths in corrections custody or prisons; and
  • Deaths where police officers have attempted to take a person into custody, such as siege situations.

What does the Coroners Court do?

The function of the Coroner is critical in instances where there has been a death in custody, as the court has direct mandate to investigate deaths where a person is in the custody or care of a police officer, protective services officer or the Secretary of the Department of Justice at the time of death or immediately before (for example, in prison).

The Coroner investigates deaths in custody by holding a public inquiry in a courtroom, referred to as a coronial inquest, but is not obligated to do so if a person has been charged with an indictable offence in relation to the death, or if the Coroner receives a medical report determining that the death is due to natural causes.

An important distinction of the Court is that it is not bound by the strict rules of evidence that would otherwise be inadmissible in criminal trials, such as hearsay evidence.

Do I need a lawyer at a Coronial Inquest?

You do not require legal representation at the Coroners Court, however you are entitled to seek legal representation. Other interested parties, such as the Chief Commissioner of Police and Corrections Victoria will often have their own lawyers and barristers, so it is in your interest to obtain legal representation to ensure your voice is heard and power imbalances are neutralised.

If you would like legal support, advocacy or representation at the Coroners Court, please contact us to discuss your situation. Robinson Gill Lawyers offers flexible fee arrangements for Coroners Court representation.