Coroners (Amendment) Act 2019

Cited as:IR No. 29/2019
Jurisdiction:Ireland


Coroners (Amendment) Act 2019

2019 29

An Act to amend the Coroners Act 1962 and to provide for related matters.

[23 July 2019]

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:

S-1 Definition

1 Definition

1. In this Act “Principal Act” means the Coroners Act 1962.

S-2 Amendment of section 2 of Principal Act

2 Amendment of section 2 of Principal Act

2. Section 2 of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) in the definition of “coroner”, by the substitution of “except in sections 6, 6A, 7, 8, 11, 11A and 16” for “except in sections 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 16 and 59”,

(b) by the substitution of the following definition for the definition of “registered medical practitioner”:

“ ‘registered medical practitioner’ means a person who is a registered medical practitioner within the meaning of section 2 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007;”,

and

(c) by the insertion of the following definitions:

“ ‘Act of 2004’ means the Civil Registration Act 2004;

‘body’, in relation to a deceased person, means the body or a part of the body of the person and includes the cremated remains of the person;

‘child in care’ means a child who was in the care of the Child and Family Agency under section 4 or Part III, IV or IVA of the Child Care Act 1991;

‘designated officer of the Ombudsman Commission’ means—

(a) an officer of the Ombudsman Commission, or

(b) a person engaged by the Ombudsman Commission under section 74 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005,

who is designated by the Ombudsman Commission under section 73 of that Act for the purpose of performing functions under Part 4 of that Act relating to a relevant Ombudsman Commission investigation;

‘direct maternal death’ means the death of a woman resulting from obstetric complications of the pregnant state whether arising during pregnancy, labour or puerperium and whether from obstetric interventions, omissions, or incorrect treatment or from a chain of events resulting from any of them;

‘disposal’, in relation to the body of a deceased person, means lawful disposal, either on land or at sea, by burial, cremation, scattering of the ashes of the remains of the body or other appropriate means;

‘document’ means—

(a) a book, record or other written or printed material,

(b) a photograph,

(c) any information stored, maintained or preserved by means of any mechanical or electronic device, whether or not stored, maintained or preserved in legible form, and

(d) any audio or video recording;

‘enactment’ means a statute or an instrument made under a power conferred by statute;

‘end of pregnancy’ means the end of pregnancy by giving birth, by miscarriage or by intervention or in any other circumstances;

‘family member’, in relation to a deceased person, means—

(a) a parent, grandparent, child, brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle or aunt, whether of the whole blood, of the half blood or by affinity, of the person,

(b) a spouse, a civil partner within the meaning of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 or a cohabiting partner of the person,

(c) any other person who is ordinarily a member of the person’s household, or

(d) any child who has been placed in foster care with the person or any person referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c),

and includes a reference to any such member of the person’s family who is adopted;

‘findings’, in relation to an inquest, shall be construed in accordance with section 18A(1);

‘indirect maternal death’ means the death of a woman resulting from a pre-existing disease, or a disease that developed during pregnancy, and which was not the result of direct obstetric causes, but which was aggravated by the physiological effects of pregnancy;

‘infant death’ means the death of a live born child occurring immediately after birth or within 365 days of birth;

‘late maternal death’ means the death of a woman occurring more than 42 days and less than 365 days after the end of pregnancy from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, includes a direct maternal death or an indirect maternal death occurring during that period;

‘maternal death’ means the death of a woman while pregnant, or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, includes a direct maternal death or an indirect maternal death occurring during that period;

‘Ombudsman Commission’ means the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission;

‘post-mortem examination’ includes an examination of marks or injuries on a body, a full three cavity examination, and any ancillary examination by way of analysis, test or otherwise of the body or of material (whether of tissue, organs, biological fluids or other parts or contents of the body or of any other substance or thing relevant to such examination) carried out by an appropriately qualified registered medical practitioner or under his or her direction;

‘pregnancy’ includes an ectopic pregnancy;

‘prison’ has the meaning it has in section 2 of the Prisons Act 2007;

‘relevant Ombudsman Commission investigation’ means an investigation of a complaint or matter by the Ombudsman Commission under Part 4 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 concerning the death of the person in relation to whose death a coroner is performing functions under this Act;

‘reportable death’ shall be construed in accordance with section 16A;

‘service custody’ means the holding under arrest or in confinement of a person by the Defence Forces under the Defence Acts 1954 to 2015 and any Act that is to be construed as one with those Acts, including confinement in a military prison, or a detention barrack, within the meaning of those Acts;

‘State custody or detention’ means being—

(a) in the custody of the Garda Síochána,

(b) in custody in a prison,

(c) in service custody,

(d) involuntarily detained under Part 2 of the Mental Health Act 2001 in an approved centre within the meaning of section 2 of that Act,

(e) detained in a designated centre within the meaning of section 3 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 or being a person to whom section 20 of that Act refers, or

(f) remanded to a remand centre within the meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 2001 or being detained in a children detention school within the meaning of that section;

‘statutory body’ means a body established by or under statute;

‘stillborn child’ means a child of not less than 24 weeks’ gestation, or of birth weight of not less than 500 grammes, who is delivered without signs of life.”.

S-3 Application of Act to stillbirths

3 Application of Act to stillbirths

3. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 2:

“2A. (1) This Act, other than sections 17, 18, 33A and 40, shall, where the context so requires, apply to a stillborn child in the same manner as it applies to a deceased person subject to the modification that the provisions in subsections (2) to (5) shall apply to a stillborn child instead of sections 17, 18 and 33A, and any other necessary modifications.

(2) Where a coroner is informed that the body of a stillborn child is lying within his or her district and that a medical certificate stating that the cause of death due to a natural cause or causes is not procurable, he or she may inquire into the circumstances of the death of the stillborn child and direct that a post-mortem examination of the body of the stillborn child be made under this Act and, if he or she is unable to ascertain the cause of death, may, if he or she so thinks proper, hold an inquest in relation to the death.

(3) A coroner may, for the purposes of performing his or her functions under subsection (2), have regard to any of the following circumstances in so far as they applied, or may have applied, to the mother of the stillborn child concerned and the likelihood that they may have caused or contributed to the death of the stillborn child:

(a) violence affecting the mother of the stillborn child at the time of the death, or immediately before the death, of the stillborn child;

(b) the mother of the stillborn child was in State custody or detention at the time of the death, or immediately before the death, of the stillborn child;

(c) the mother of the stillborn child was involved in an accident at work or was affected by an industrial or occupational injury or disease or industrial poisoning at the time of the death, or immediately before the death, of the stillborn child;

(d) the death of the mother occurred unexpectedly and from unknown causes or in an unexplained manner;

(e) the death of the mother was a maternal death or a late maternal death;

(f) the death of the mother occurred in circumstances which, under provisions in that behalf in any other enactment, require that an inquest in relation to her death should be held.

(4) When deciding under subsection (2) whether to hold an inquest in relation to the death of a stillborn child, a coroner shall—

(a) have regard to the matters referred to in subsection (5), and

(b) if it is practicable to do so, consult with a family member of the stillborn child.

(5) The matters to which a coroner shall have regard for the purposes of subsection (4) include the following:

(a) whether the death of the stillborn child concerned has been reported to the coroner in accordance with section 16A;

(b) whether, upon inquiry by the coroner into the death, sufficient information in respect of the death of the stillborn child concerned has been provided to the coroner;

(c) whether a post-mortem examination of the body of the stillborn child concerned has been made under this Act and the report of that examination;

(d) the views (if any) of a family member of the stillborn child concerned furnished to the coroner in writing as to whether the death was a natural one.”.

S-4 Amendment of...

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