BCL partner Richard Reichman’s article, ‘Unlawful Killing Following Maughan – Increased Risk For Carers’ has been published by The Carer.
Here’s an extract from the article:
“In the case of R (on the application of Maughan) (Appellant) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire (Respondent)  UKSC 46, the Supreme Court found, by a majority of three to two, that all conclusions in coronial inquests, including unlawful killing and suicide, whether short form or narrative, are to be determined on the civil standard of proof i.e. ‘on the balance of probabilities’.
A striking effect of the judgment is that for an inquest conclusion of unlawful killing a lower burden of proof is now sufficient (previously the burden of proof applied was the criminal burden of proof i.e. ‘beyond reasonable doubt’). This is a departure from the applicable burden of proof in any related criminal proceedings (for example, for the serious crimes of murder and manslaughter). The Supreme Court placed an emphasis on consistency between inquest conclusions, arguably giving insufficient consideration and weight to significant issues relating to unlawful killing.
Following the judicial dust settling, the Chief Coroner recently issued ‘Law Sheet Number 6’, to be applied by coroners dealing with unlawful killing issues in the future. The Chief Coroner anticipates that unlawful killing is likely to be relevant in “relatively few” inquests. However, the relatively low number of historic unlawful killing conclusions cited were constrained by the previous higher burden of proof and this opinion may be optimistic. In addition, inquests which do involve consideration of unlawful killing, for example arising from workplace fatalities, medical negligence cases and deaths in custody, will be substantially affected by the Maughan judgment.”
This article was published on 10/03/21. You can read the full issue here.