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Coroners (Northern Ireland)

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many (a) coroners and (b) deputy coroners there have been in Northern Ireland in each year since 1997. (80058)

The number of coroners and deputy coroners in Northern Ireland since 1997 is set out in the following table:

Presiding judge

Full-time coroners

Part-time coroners

Deputy coroners

1997

1

6

5

1998

1

6

5

1999

1

6

5

2000

1

6

5

2001

3

6

5

2002

3

6

5

2003

3

6

5

2004

3

6

5

2005

3

6

5

2006

1

3

0

1

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the (a) legal background and (b) practitioner experience is of each (i) coroner in Northern Ireland, (ii) deputy coroner who served between 1997 and 2006 and (iii) newly appointed (A) coroner and (B) deputy coroner. (80059)

With the exception of one part-time coroner who was a barrister, all coroners and deputy coroners who served between 1997 and 2006 were solicitors. Of the two full-time coroners appointed in April 2006, one was a barrister and the other was a solicitor. In addition a High Court judge was appointed to the office of coroner in May 2006 to be the presiding judge for the Coroners Service.

With effect from 15 October 2002 in order to be eligible for appointment to the position of coroner or deputy coroner in Northern Ireland a person must be a barrister or a solicitor of at least five years standing.

The professional standing of coroners appointed since 15 October 2002 is as follows:

Date appointed

Barrister/solicitor

Number of years standing

3 April 2006

Solicitor

19

3 April 2006

Barrister

13

Prior to 15 October 2002 eligibility for appointment as a coroner or deputy coroner in Northern Ireland was based on having practised for not less then five years as a barrister or solicitor. Details of the number of years in practice of individual coroners appointed prior to 15 October 2002 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.