In Re Neal (Coroner: Jury): QBD 17 Nov 1995

The father of the deceased sought to have the coroner quash the inquest. His daughter had died in Spain from carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently emanated from a faulty water heater in the apartment in which she had stayed. Her body had been returned to England. The verdict had been open, but the coroner had sat without a jury, and left several questions open.
Held: It was not obligatory to summon a jury where a death occurred abroad. There were clearly circumstances requiring investigation, and the coroner might have summoned a jury, but the case was now old, and it could not be said that no coroner acting properly could have reached the same verdict. The Coroner’s powers to summon witnesses were exercisable even though the death had occurred abroad.
Staughton LJ said: ‘Then I turn to the fourth point: the fact that the coroner did not summon a jury. In the light of what I have just said this was a case which cried out for an inquiry into the possibility of repetition. It may well be that the coroner should have summoned a jury in this case. Nobody, in fact, suggested to him that he should do so. But it seems to me that he could very well have said to himself, ‘There are circumstances here which point to a danger of repetition or recurrence,’ and thought the case to be within section 8(3)(d).
Mr Burnett, who appeared for the coroner, has argued that that passage in section 8 does not apply when the inquest is on a death that occurred abroad. We have been referred to some familiar cases about the territorial application of English statutes. I can quite see in section 8(3)(a), (b) and (c) that it may be that those paragraphs would not apply when the death occurred abroad. Those deal with death in prison, death in police custody and death from accident, poisoning or disease for which notification is required. The same reasoning does not apply to paragraph (d). It seems to me just as important that the section of the public who travel to Spain on holiday should be protected from dangerous gas heaters as the section of the public which stays at home. So I reject the argument that paragraph (d) does not apply when the death occurs abroad.
As I have said, I consider that the coroner could well have summoned a jury in this case, and possibly that he should have done.’


Staughton LJ, Rougier J


Times 09-Dec-1995, [1995] 37 BMLR 164


Coroners Act 1988 8(3)(d)


CitedRegina v South London Coroner ex parte Thompson 8-Jul-1982
The court discussed the function of the coroner and his inquest.
Lord Lane CJ said: ‘The coroner’s task in a case such as this is a formidable one, and no one would dispute that; that is quite apart from the difficulties which inevitably arise . .
CitedRegina v North Humberside and Scunthorpe Coroner ex parte Jamieson CA 27-Apr-1994
The deceased prisoner had hanged himself. He had been a known suicide risk, and his brother said that the authorities being so aware, the death resulted from their lack of care. The inquest heard in full the circumstannces leading up to the death, . .
CitedRegina v Coroner for Western District of Sussex Ex Parte Homberg Roberts and Mannerss QBD 27-Jan-1994
A Coroner’s enquires should be as to ‘how’ the death arose, and not into all the circumstances contributing to the death.
Simon Brown LJ said: ‘It is clear that the coroner’s over-riding duty is to inquire ‘how’ the deceased came by his death . .

Cited by:

CitedPaul and others v Deputy Coroner of the Queen’s Household and Another Admn 2-Mar-2007
The applicants sought judicial review of preliminary directions given for the intended inquest on the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales and of Dodi Al Fayed. It was submitted that the jurisdiction had been wrongly transferred to the Queen’s Coroner . .
CitedShafi v HM Senior Coroner for East London Admn 20-Jul-2015
The claimant’s son had died in a prison attached to a police station in Dubai. She sought a new inquest saying that the first had been inadequate.
Held: A new inquest was ordered. There had been difficulties in that the Dubai authorities had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 28 April 2022; Ref: scu.82070