The Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and CILEx Regulation have published new guidance and resources designed to ensure standards for solicitors, barristers and CILEX Advocates working in the Coroners’ Court.
The resources, which can be found on the SRA website at www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/resources/practising-coroners-court/ include:
- A set of competences to help solicitors, barristers and CILEx Advocates better understand the standards expected of them in inquests, and
- Guidance and other resources to help make sure that the standards are met.
The new guidelines have been introduced in response to concerns about the standards of practice among some lawyers in the Coroner’s Court. In particular, issues about the adversarial approach adopted by some lawyers, and reports from the charity INQUEST on the experience of bereaved families in Coroner’s Court cases.
The competences complement the existing wider professional competency statements from regulators and set targeted expectations for lawyers working in the Coroner’s Court. The competences cover:
- Law and procedure
- Dealing with vulnerability
- Communication and engagement
- Raising awareness of key organisations
The Chief Coroner for England and Wales, HHJ Teague QC, said:
“It is important that the competencies for lawyers practising in inquests are met. They are important for effective advocacy and reflect the particular and unique challenges lawyers face in inquests. Also, since they helped develop them, coroners will be vigilant in ensuring those before them are meeting the expected standards.”
Coroners will be encouraged to address practice that falls short of these competences either during the hearing itself or through raising their concerns with the relevant regulator.
In developing the resources, the regulators have worked closely with the Chief and Deputy Chief Coroners, practitioners, the Ministry of Justice, and bereaved families. They will also continue to work with these groups to evaluate the impact of the new guidelines and ensure that they are addressing the concerns identified.
Further information can be found at www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/coroners-court and at www.cilexregulation.org.uk/regulated-individuals/coroners-court/.
For a video explanation “Practising in inquests: the importance of practising competently” by His Honour Judge Thomas Teague QC, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlGMP6j2Ngk