On 25 March 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (‘the 2020 Act’) received Royal Assent and became law. The Chief Coroner has also released a number of Guidance Notes (Numbers 34, 35 and 36) which expand upon the new powers granted in the 2020 Act and provide practical direction for coroners and those who use the coronial system.
This briefing note addresses the issues raised in the 2020 Act and s30 which suspended the requirement to hold jury inquests in England and Wales. It will address the Guidance provided by the Chief Coroner in which he acknowledges the challenges posed to the coronial system by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also consider the potential impact of Covid-19 on those detained in prisons and other detention centres along with the longer-term impact that the inevitable deaths in these locations will have for coroners and those involved with inquests.