CORONER'S HEARINGS AND THE USE OF HEARSAY EVIDENCE
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 hearsay evidence which is of general assistance to all practitioners.