Coroners' law ready for Legco

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 1996, 12:00am

CORONERS' investigatory powers will be substantially enhanced in a bill gazetted today. A government spokesman yesterday announced the Coroners' Bill would be tabled to the legislature for first reading on February 7.

The bill, based on a 1987 report by the Law Reform Commission, will replace the existing Coroners' Ordinance.

It will impose a duty on certain categories of people - including doctors, the police and the Registrar of Births and Deaths - to report deaths to coroners as soon as practicable. Failure to do so will be an offence.

The bill also empowers a coroner to issue a warrant to a police officer, usually a coroner's officer, to enter and search any premises if he believes any document or evidence may be relevant to the cause of the death.

A coroner will also be obliged to report any death to the Attorney-General if the suspected criminal offence is murder, manslaughter, infanticide or death by reckless driving.

The bill also makes it an offence for a person to obstruct or resist a coroner in his duties.

It also allows coroners to hold pre-inquest reviews.

But the Government refused to agree to place a group of police officers under the exclusive direction of coroners.