Coroners

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Coroners
CORONERS ACT

CHAPTER 6:04

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Act
15 of 1919

Amended by
30 of 1930
54 of 1946
12 of 1961
172/1961
8/1962
53 of 1970
136/1976
45 of 1979
17 of 1996

L.R.O.

Current Authorised Pages
Pages Authorised

(inclusive) by L.R.O.
1–14 ..

UNOFFICIAL VERSION


UPDATED TO DECEMBER 31ST 2014

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LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

2 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

Note on Subsidiary Legislation

This Chapter contains no subsidiary legislation.

Note on Adaptation
Under paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule to the Law Revision Act (Ch. 3:03) the Commission
amended certain references to public officers in this Chapter. The Minister’s approval of the
amendments was signified by LN 52/1980, but no marginal reference is made to this Notice
where any such amendment is made in the text.

UNOFFICIAL VERSION


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L.R.O.

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Coroners Chap. 6:04 3

CHAPTER 6:04

CORONERS ACT

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

SECTION

1. Short title.
2. Interpretation.
3. Magistrates to be Coroners.

Harbour Masters.
3A. Appointment of persons other than Magistrates as Coroners.

INQUEST AS TO DEATH
4. Notice of death to be given.

Removal of body.
D.M.O. may order removal without viewing body.
Notice of death of prisoner.
Penalty for neglecting to give notice.

5. View of body by D.M.O.
Burial.

6. View of body by pathologist.
7. Deaths in certain prisons.
8. Power to exhume.
9. Report by D.M.O.

10. Preliminary investigation.
10A. Inquest.

11. Inquest on prisoner.
12. Inquest without report.
13. Substitute for D.M.O.
14. Fees.
15. View of body unnecessary.
16. Penalty on secret interment.

MORTUARIES
17. Mortuaries.

FIRE AND TREASURE-TROVE
18. Inquest as to fire.
19. Treasure-trove.

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4 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS—Continued
SECTION

PROCEEDINGS AT INQUEST AND
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

20. Inquest to be judicial enquiry.
21. Witnesses.
22. Depositions.
23. Deposition of witness unable to attend.
24. Obstructing Medical Officer.
25. Adjournment of inquest.
26. Staying inquest.
27. Resuming inquest.
28. Prosecution by Coroner’s order.
29. Where guilty party unknown.
30. Where guilty party cannot be found.

30A. Where no further inquiry warranted.
30B. Director of Public Prosecutions may require inquest to be held.

31. Where no ground of suspicion.
32. Director of Public Prosecutions may require re-opening of inquest.
33. Report of Chief Chemist.
34. Custody of proceedings.
35. Authority to hold inquest where body is not found.

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L.R.O.

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Coroners Chap. 6:04 5

1950 Ed.
Ch. 3 No. 5.
15 of 1919.

Commencement.

Short title.

Interpretation.
[17 of 1996].

Magistrates to
be Coroners.

Ch. 4:20.

Harbour
Masters.

CHAPTER 6:04

CORONERS ACT

An Act relating to Coroners.

[6TH JUNE 1919]

1. This Act may be cited as the Coroners Act.

2. In this Act—
“District Medical Officer” means the Medical Officer assigned

to the district for the purposes of this Act;
“ preliminary investigation” means the examination of the report

of the District Medical Officer and of any other relevant
documents submitted to the Coroner;

“unnatural death” includes every case of death of any person—
(a) which occurs in a sudden, violent, or

unnatural manner;
(b) where a dead body is found;
(c) as to which any reasonable suspicion exists that

the death has not arisen from natural causes; or
(d) as to which any reasonable suspicion exists

that any person is criminally responsible for
such death;

“view” includes the making of any necessary external examination.

3. (1) Every Magistrate shall be a Coroner for the whole of
Trinidad and Tobago, but he shall not, unless required by the Chief
Justice, be bound to act as such Coroner beyond the limits of the
district assigned to him under the Summary Courts Act.

(2) A Harbour Master shall, as to all matters arising under
this Act in his harbour, have all the powers and jurisdiction and
discharge all the duties of a Coroner. As regards all such matters,
the Port Health Officer shall be substituted for the District Medical
Officer, and this Act shall be read and construed accordingly.

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LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

6 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

Appointment of
persons other
than Magistrates
as Coroners.
[17 of 1996].

Ch. 4:20.

Notice of death
to be given.

Removal of
body.

D.M.O. may
order removal
without viewing
body.

Notice of death
of prisoner.

Penalty for
neglecting to
give notice.

3A. (1) Notwithstanding section 3, the Judicial and Legal
Service Commission may appoint persons other than Magistrates
as Coroners.

(2) Every person appointed under subsection (1) shall,
before he performs the functions of a Coroner, take and subscribe
to the oath of office with suitable amendments set out in the
Seventh Schedule of the Summary Courts Act.

(3) A Coroner appointed under this section shall have all
the powers, privileges, rights and jurisdiction of a Magistrate and
Justice as are necessary for the performance of his duties.

(4) The Chief Justice may assign any number of Coroners
to one magisterial district or one Coroner to any number of districts.

INQUEST AS TO DEATH

4. (1) Every person who becomes aware of an unnatural
death shall forthwith give notice thereof to the District Medical
Officer of the district in which the body is or to a constable, and
the constable shall forthwith cause information to be given to the
Medical Officer.

(2) A body in respect of which such notice is given
shall not be moved or have its position altered, except so far as is
necessary for the safe custody thereof but the District Medical
Officer may, in cases where there are no circumstances of
suspicion and where he is unable to view the body within a
reasonable time, order the removal of the body to such place as
may be named by him.

(3) The Keeper of any prison within which a prisoner dies
shall forthwith give notice of the death to the Coroner and the
District Medical Officer within whose respective districts the prison
is situated.

(4) Any person becoming aware of any unnatural death
who neglects to notify the same as required by this section, or
contravenes subsection (2) is liable on summary conviction to a
fine of four hundred dollars.

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L.R.O.

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Coroners Chap. 6:04 7

View of body
by D.M.O.

Burial.

View of body by
pathologist.
[53 of 1970].

Deaths in
certain prisons.

5. (1) The District Medical Officer shall view, and, if he
considers it necessary for the purposes of this Act, make an
anatomical examination of the unburied body of any deceased
person within his district—

(a) where he has grounds for believing that the person
died an unnatural death;

(b) where such person died while confined as a
prisoner in any prison;

(c) where he is directed by the Coroner, within whose
district the body is, to view the body; or

(d) where an inquest is prescribed in respect of
such death.

(2) As soon as the District Medical Officer has completed
his view and anatomical examination (if any), it shall be lawful to
bury the body, unless the District Medical Officer otherwise
directs, and the District Medical Officer may, if he sees fit, give
order for the burial.

6. Where in the opinion of the Coroner having regard to the
condition of the body of any deceased person or to the
circumstances of the death, such body should be examined by
a pathologist, the Coroner shall so direct and the pathologist
shall thereupon view the body, perform an autopsy and
report thereon.

7. If at any time the Medical Officer of the Port-of-Spain
Prison or of the Carrera Convict Depot is also the District
Medical Officer of the district in which the Prison or Depot is
situated, the powers vested in and the duties imposed on the
District Medical Officer by this Act as to persons dying while
confined as prisoners in the Prison or Depot shall not be performed
or exercised by such District Medical Officer, but by some other
Government Medical Officer or member of the Medical Board
appointed for the purpose by the Chief Medical Officer with the
approval of the Minister of Health and in all such cases this Act
shall be read and construed subject to this section.

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LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

8 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

8. A Coroner may, if he thinks fit, and whether an inquest is
pending or not, order that the body of any deceased person be
exhumed, and direct that it be viewed, and if necessary anatomically
examined by the District Medical Officer of the district in which
the body is buried.

9. Where a District Medical Officer has viewed the body
of any deceased person and, if he considers it necessary to make
an anatomical examination in accordance with section 5, after
making the examination he shall make a report as to the cause of
death to the Coroner within whose district the view took place
and shall forward a copy of the report to the Superintendent of
Police within whose division the view took place.

10. (1) A Coroner having received the report of the District
Medical Officer as to the cause of death of any person, shall carry
out a preliminary investigation as to the cause and circumstances
of the death.

(2) Where upon the completion of the preliminary
investigation the Coroner finds that the circumstances of the case
warrant no further enquiry he shall deliver his findings in open
Court on such date, time and place to be fixed by the Clerk of the
Peace of the district to which the Coroner has been assigned.

(3) The Clerk of the Peace shall cause written notice to
be given to the investigating officer, and any parties interested
therein, of the date, time and place for the delivery of the findings.

10A. Where upon the completion of the preliminary
investigation the Coroner finds that the circumstances of the case
warrant further enquiry he shall hold an inquest in accordance
with this Act.

11. A Coroner, where there is in his district the body of any
person who died in any prison or as to whose death an inquest
is prescribed, shall hold an inquest as to the cause and
circumstances of the death, whether the District Medical Officer
does or does not make a report thereon.

Power to
exhume.

Report by
D.M.O.

Preliminary
investigation.
[17 of 1996].

Inquest.
[17 of 1996].

Inquest on
prisoner.

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L.R.O.

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Coroners Chap. 6:04 9

Inquest without
report.

Substitute for
D.M.O.

Fees.
[17 of 1996].

View of body
unnecessary.
[17 of 1996].

Penalty on
secret interment.

12. Where a Coroner has reasonable ground to believe or
suspect that any deceased person whose body is within his district
died an unnatural death, if he thinks the circumstances of the case
so require, he may, at any time and without waiting for the report
of the District Medical Officer, hold an inquest as to the cause
and circumstances of the death of the deceased person.

13. (1) In the case of the absence or inability to act of any
District Medical Officer, a Coroner may appoint any member of
the Medical Board a substitute for such District Medical Officer,
but the appointment shall have no operation beyond the limits of
the district for which the Coroner is acting.

(2) A substitute appointed under this section shall
perform the duties imposed by this Act and have the powers
conferred by this Act upon a District Medical Officer, and the
same consequences shall follow his report and proceedings as under
this Act would follow the report and like proceedings of a District
Medical Officer.

14. There shall be paid for the viewing of the body of
any deceased person and for the autopsy thereon the fees set
out hereunder—

(a) for viewing the body of a deceased
person—$50.00;

(b) for an autopsy performed by a District
Medical Officer or his substitute (not being a
pathologist)—$ 100.00;

(c) for an autopsy performed by a
pathologist—$ 300.00.

15. Any Coroner may hold a preliminary investigation or
an inquest as to the death of any person without viewing the body
of such person.

16. Any person who knowingly inters or assists in interring
the body of any person who died an unnatural death without
reasonable notice first given to the District Medical Officer or

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LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

10 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

Mortuaries.
[45 of 1979].

Inquest as to
fire.
[172/1961
8/1962
136/1976].

Treasure-trove.
[136/1976].

Inquest to be
judicial enquiry.

some Coroner or constable, or who conceals or, with intent to
prevent or obstruct enquiry, removes any such body is liable on
conviction on indictment to a fine of eight thousand dollars or to
imprisonment for five years.

MORTUARIES

17. The State shall provide and maintain fit and proper places
for the reception of dead bodies during the time required to conduct
any post mortem examination ordered by a Coroner, District
Medical Officer, or other constituted authority, and to make
regulations with respect to the management of such places; and
where any such place has been provided, a Coroner, District
Medical Officer, or other constituted authority empowered to direct
the making of a post mortem or anatomical examination of the
body of any deceased person may order the removal of the body to
and from the place for carrying out the post mortem or anatomical
examination; and the costs of the removal may be paid in the same
manner and out of the same funds as the costs and fees for
anatomical or post mortem examinations made under this Act.

FIRE AND TREASURE-TROVE

18. Where a Coroner is informed by the oath of any person
that in his district a fire has occurred causing injury to person or
property, or in respect of which there is reasonable ground to suspect
that an offence has been committed, the Coroner may, in his
discretion, and shall, if so directed in writing by the Director of
Public Prosecutions, hold an inquest as to the cause and
circumstances of the fire.

19. In the case of treasure-trove, the State shall enjoy the same
rights and prerogatives and the Coroner shall have the same powers
and duties as the Sovereign and the Coroner respectively enjoyed
and have in England.

PROCEEDINGS AT INQUEST AND
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

20. Every inquest under this Act shall be a judicial enquiry
and may be held as well on Sunday as on any other day.

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L.R.O.

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Coroners Chap. 6:04 11

Witnesses.

Ch. 4:20.

Depositions.

Deposition of
witness unable
to attend.

Obstructing
Medical Officer.

Adjournment of
inquest.

Staying inquest.
[45 of 1979].

21. A Coroner shall have all the powers conferred on a
Magistrate with regard to witnesses by sections 46 to 50 (inclusive)
of the Summary Courts Act.

22. The evidence of every witness shall be taken down in
writing in the form of a deposition, which shall be read over to the
witness and signed by the Coroner and the witness, or, in case of
the incapacity or refusal of the latter to sign the same, then by the
Coroner and some other person in whose presence the deposition
was taken; and the deposition shall be admissible in evidence in
any proceedings in the cases in which and subject to the conditions
subject to which in similar proceedings in England the like
deposition taken by or before a Coroner in England would be
admissible in evidence.

This section shall not derogate from the admissibility in
evidence of any such deposition independently of this Act.

23. Where any person able to give material evidence in respect
of any inquest is, from illness, unable to attend at the place where
the Coroner usually sits, a Coroner shall have power to take the
deposition of such person at the place where such person is.

24. Any person who obstructs a District Medical Officer or
Port Health Officer or a substitute appointed under section 13 in
the execution of any duty imposed upon him by this Act is liable
on summary conviction to a fine of four hundred dollars.

25. A Coroner holding an inquest in any place may adjourn
the inquest to another day, whether the same be Sunday or any
other day, and order the adjourned inquest to be held in the same
or any other place.

26. If in the course of an inquest as to any death or fire, the
Coroner is of opinion that sufficient grounds have been disclosed
for preferring a charge on indictment against any person, the
Coroner shall stay the inquest until the person to be charged is
committed for trial or discharged by a Magistrate, or it appears
improbable that the person will be found.

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LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

12 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

27. (1) Where an inquest is stayed in consequence of grounds
for a charge on indictment being disclosed, if the person charged
is committed for trial or discharged by a Magistrate, the Coroner
may resume and conclude the inquest if he is of opinion that public
benefit is likely to result from his doing so, but if he is of opinion
that no public benefit is likely to result from his doing so, he shall
certify his opinion to that effect and transmit the proceedings to
the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(2) Where an inquest is stayed in consequence of grounds
for a charge on indictment being disclosed, and it is ascertained
that the person to be charged cannot be found, the Coroner shall
resume and conclude the inquest.

28. If, during the course or at the close of any inquest, the
Coroner is of opinion that sufficient grounds are disclosed for
making a charge on indictment against any person, he may issue
his warrant for the apprehension of the person and taking him before
a Magistrate, and may bind over any witness who has been
examined by or before him in a recognisance with or without surety
to appear and give evidence before the Magistrate.

29. If, at the close of any inquest, the Coroner is of opinion
that there is ground for suspecting that some person is guilty of an
indictable offence in respect of the matter enquired into, but cannot
ascertain who the person is, he shall certify his opinion to that
effect and transmit the proceedings to the Commissioner of Police.

30. Where the proceedings upon any inquest have been
transmitted to the Commissioner of Police under this Act, if he is
satisfied that due diligence has been used by the Police to discover
the guilty person, but the person remains undiscovered, and there
is in his opinion no probability that the person will be discovered,
he shall certify his opinion to that effect and transmit the
proceedings to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

30A. If upon the completion of a preliminary investigation the
Coroner is of opinion that the circumstances of the case warrant

Resuming
inquest.
[172/1961
136/1976
45 of 1979].

Prosecution by
Coroner’s order.
[45 of 1979].

Where guilty
party unknown.
[45 of 1979].

Where guilty
party cannot be
found.
[172/1961
8/1962
126/1976].

Where no
further inquiry
warranted.
[17 of 1996].

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L.R.O.

LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Coroners Chap. 6:04 13

Director of
Public
Prosecutions
may require
inquest to be
held.
[17 of 1996].

Where no
ground of
suspicion.
[172/1961
8/1962
136/1976
45 of 1979].

Director of
Public
Prosecutions
may require re-
opening of
inquest.
[172/1961
8/1962
136/1976].

Report of Chief
Chemist.

Custody of
proceedings.
[172/1961
8/1962
136/1976
17 of 1996].

no further enquiry, he shall certify his opinion to that effect and
transmit the proceedings to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

30B. Where on receipt of the proceedings under section 30A
it appears to the Director of Public Prosecutions that further
enquiry is necessary he may, by direction under his hand, require
a Coroner to hold an inquest, whereupon the Coroner shall hold
the inquest in accordance with this Act.

31. If, at the close of any inquest as to any death or fire, the
Coroner is of opinion that there is no ground for suspecting that
anyone is guilty of an indictable offence in respect of the matter
enquired into, he shall certify his opinion to that effect and transmit
the proceedings to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

32. Where it appears to the Director of Public Prosecutions
that further enquiry is necessary, the Director of Public Prosecutions
may, by direction under his hand, require a Coroner to re-open
any inquest held by him and take further evidence, and thereupon
the Coroner shall have power to and shall re-open the inquest, and
take such further evidence, and thereafter proceed in the same
manner as if the proceedings at the inquest had not been closed
by the Coroner except that this section shall not apply to any
inquest at which any verdict or finding of murder or manslaughter
has been returned against any person named therein.

33. At any inquest under this Act any document purporting
to be a report from the Chief Chemist upon any matter or thing
submitted to him for examination, analysis, or report may, if it
bears his signature, be used as evidence. The Coroner may presume
that the signature to any such document is genuine, and that the
person signing it held the office which he professed to hold at the
time when he signed it.

34. The Director of Public Prosecutions shall from time to
time deliver to the Registrar of the High Court the proceedings
upon all preliminary investigations and inquests transmitted to him,
and thereupon the Registrar shall take charge of the proceedings
and shall keep a proper index of the same.

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LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

14 Chap. 6:04 Coroners

35. Where a Coroner has reason to believe that a death has
occurred within his district in such circumstances that an inquest
ought to be held, and that owing to the destruction of the body by
fire or otherwise or to the fact that the body is lying in a place from
which it cannot be recovered, an inquest cannot be held except by
virtue of this section, he may report the facts to the Director of
Public Prosecutions, and the Director of Public Prosecutions may,
if he considers it desirable to do so, direct an inquest to be held
touching the death and an inquest shall be held accordingly by the
Coroner making the report or such other Coroner as the Director
of Public Prosecutions may direct.

Authority to
hold inquest
where body is
not found.
[172/1961
8/1962
136/1976].

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