THE CORONER'S COURT

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The Coroner’s Court was established by the Coroners Act  1953, an Act of Parliament. Who is a Coroner in Papua New Guinea?
A Coroner is a Magistrate who sits in a Coroners Court. The Coroner is appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and given jurisdiction; power and authority to inquire or preside over an inquest an in a specific province or provinces.
What a Coroner in a Coroner's Court does and does not do.

  1. Coroners in a Coroner’s Court do not conduct a trial but hold or preside over an inquest.
  2. Coroners in a Coroner’s Court do not make judgments, they make findings and they do not fine or sentence people to jail. However, the finding of a Coroner can be used by responsible authorities to prosecute a person suspected of a criminal act or the report used to claim for damages.

What does a Coroner of a Coroners Court inquires about?

A Coroner in a Coroners Court inquires or presides over an in inquest into the death of any person who-

  1. was killed
  2. was drowned; or
  3. died a sudden death of which the cause is unknown
  4. died under suspicious or unusual circumstances; or
  5. died while under an anesthetic in the course of a medical, surgical or dental operation or an operation of like nature;
  6. died, but no certificate of a medical practitioner has been given as to the cause of death; or
  7. died within a year an a day after the date of an accident where the cause of the death is directly attributable to the accident; or
  8. died in a Corrective Institution, Rural Lock Up, or while a prisoner or in custody or
  9. died in a mental hospital or other institution under such circumstances as to require an inquest under this enactment or
  10. died in such circumstances that in the opinion of the Attorney General the Cause of death and the circumstances of the death should be more clearly and definitely ascertain; or
  11. died, not having been attended by a medical practitioner at any time within three months before his/her death.

Limitation of time

An inquest into a death shall not be held after the expiration of 12 months from the date of the death or finding of a dead body whichever is the later, unless the Attorney General otherwise orders.

Inquest into Fire

The Coroner in a Coroners Court can also inquire orpreside over an inquest into the  origin of any fire by which any property is destroyed.

Inquest into Disappearance of a person

When a person disappears, a Coroner in a Coroners Court has powers to hold an inquest as to the cause and the circumstances of the disappearance of the person and into all matters and things that will reveal, or likely to reveal, whether the missing person is still alive or dead, and if the  person is still alive or likely to be alive his/her whereabouts at the time of the inquiry.

Death by Natural Causes

Wherea person dies of natural causes the investigating police officer will prepare and forward Report of Death to the Coroner.

Upon receipt on this report, the Coroner will issue a warrant for burial and only then the body of the dead shall be buried.

Death by a Motor Vehicle Accident

Relatives of a person who dies in a motor vehicle accident may claim for Basic Protection Compensation  (BPC) from the Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited (MVIL) through the Coroner.

Procedures  in Claiming BPC through the Coroner

  1. Road Accident Report is prepared by the Police.
  2. The Relatives submit this report to the Coroner.
  3. The Coroner then makes assessment for compensation.
  4. The assessment officer of MVIL views the file.
  5. The Coroner prepares order for compensation.
  6. The Compensation money is paid to the Coroner.
  7. The Coroner pays the relatives.  

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