Coroner's Court of the Australian Capital Territory

Coroner's Court of the Australian Capital Territory

The Coroner's Court of the Australian Capital Territory is a court which has exclusive jurisdiction over the remains of a person and the power to make findings in respect of the cause of death of a person or fire in Australian Capital Territory, a territory of Australia.



The office of coroner in the territory derives from the legal framework inherited from the United Kingdom.

The first Governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, was a coroner by virtue of his commission as governor. As the territory was formerly part of New South Wales, technically, Phillip would have been its first coroner.

Structure and Jurisdiction

At common law, coroners would constitute a court by virtue of their office. In the Australian Capital Territory, this common law position has been abolished and there is now the Coroner’s Court established. Coroners have the power to investigate the causes of death within their jurisdiction. They also have power to retain a person’s remains, order autopsies, and direct how a person’s remains may be disposed of. In appropriate cases, coroners have jurisdiction to hold inquests concerning the cause of any fire in the territory.

Where a serious criminal offence has been disclosed during the course of an inquest, the coroner cannot proceed with it if a person is to be charged with that criminal offence. The coroner stops the inquest and refers the papers to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration and investigation. This changes the early colonial practice of coroners directly committing persons suspected of serious crimes directly for trial.

Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.has a supervisory role over the court, and may review, quash or direct inquests.

In certain situations, the Attorney General may direct the Chief Coroner to conduct cause an inquiry to be held into a disaster in the territory [1].

State Coroner

The Chief Magistrate of the Australian Capital Territory is the Chief Coroner for the territory. The Chief Coroner has the function to oversee and co-ordinate coronial services in the territory, ensure that all deaths and suspected deaths concerning which a coroner has jurisdiction to hold an inquest are properly investigated, and ensuring that an inquest is held whenever it is required, and to issue guidelines to coroners to assist them in the exercise or performance of their functions.

All magistrates are coroners by virtue of their office [2].

The executive of the territory may also appoint deputy coroners.

Chief Coroners

The current Chief Coroner is R.J. Cahill

Significant cases


  1. ^ section 19
  2. ^ section 5 Coroners Act 1997


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