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Coroners Act

R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER C.37

Historical version for the period December 12, 2006 to April 30, 2007.

Amended by: 1993, c. 27, Sched.; 1994, c. 27, s. 136; 1997, c. 39, ss. 4-6; 1998, c. 18, Sched. B, s. 3; 1998, c. 18, Sched. G, s. 47; 1999, c. 6, s. 15; 1999, c. 12, Sched. P, ss. 1, 2; 2001, c. 13, s. 10; 2002, c. 33, s. 142; 2005, c. 5, s. 15; 2005, c. 29, s. 2; 2006, c. 19, Sched. C, s. 1 (1); 2006, c. 19, Sched. D, s. 4; 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 104; 2006, c. 24, s. 2.

CONTENTS

1.

Definitions

2.

Effect of Act

3.

Appointment of coroners

4.

Chief Coroner and duties

5.

Regional coroners

8.

Authority for judge to act as coroner

9.

Police assistance

10.

Duty to give information

11.

Interference with body

12.

Power of coroner to take charge of wreckage

13.

Shipment of bodies outside Ontario

14.

Transportation of a body out of Ontario for post mortem

15.

Warrant for possession of body; investigation

16.

Investigative powers

17.

Transfer of investigation

18.

Inquest unnecessary

19.

Warrant for inquest

20.

What coroner shall consider and have regard to

21.

Where body destroyed or removed from Ontario

22.

Minister may direct coroner to hold inquest

22.1

Inquest mandatory

23.

Commissioner

24.

Minister may direct that body be disinterred

25.

Direction by Chief Coroner

26.

Request by relative for inquest

27.

Where criminal offence charged

28.

Post mortem examinations and analyses

29.

Extraction and use of pituitary gland

30.

Crown counsel

31.

Purposes of inquest

32.

Inquest public

33.

Juries

34.

List of jurors

35.

Report to sheriff re jury service

36.

Jury irregularities not to affect outcome

37.

Jury, viewing body and asking questions

38.

Majority verdict

39.

Service of summonses

40.

Summonses

41.

Persons with standing at inquest

42.

Protection for witnesses

43.

Rights of witnesses to counsel

43.

Rights of witnesses to representation

44.

Admissibility of evidence

45.

Taking evidence

46.

Adjournments

47.

Maintenance of order at inquest

48.

Interpreters and constables

49.

Administration of oaths

50.

Further powers of coroner

51.

Contempt proceedings

52.

Conclusion of inquest

53.

Protection from liability

54.

Seals not necessary

55.

Offences

56.

Regulations and fees

Definitions

1. In this Act,

“Chief Coroner” means the Chief Coroner for Ontario; (“coroner en chef ”)

“mine” means a mine as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act; (“mine”)

“mining plant” means a mining plant as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act; (“installation minière”)

“Minister” means the Solicitor General; (“ministre”)

“spouse” means a person,

(a) to whom the deceased was married immediately before his or her death,

(b) with whom the deceased was living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage immediately before his or her death, if the deceased and the other person,

(i) had cohabited for at least one year,

(ii) were together the parents of a child, or

(iii) had together entered into a cohabitation agreement under section 53 of the Family Law Act. (“conjoint”) R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 1; 1999, c. 6, s. 15 (1); 2005, c. 5, s. 15 (1, 2).

Effect of Act

Repeal of common law functions

2. (1) In so far as it is within the jurisdiction of the Legislature, the common law as it relates to the functions, powers and duties of coroners within Ontario is repealed. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 2 (1).

Inquest not criminal court of record

(2) The powers conferred on a coroner to conduct an inquest shall not be construed as creating a criminal court of record. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 2 (2).

Appointment of coroners

3. (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint one or more legally qualified medical practitioners to be coroners for Ontario who, subject to subsections (2), (3) and (4), shall hold office during pleasure. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 3 (1).

Tenure

(2) A coroner ceases to hold office on ceasing to be a legally qualified medical practitioner. 2005, c. 29, s. 2.

Chief Coroner to be notified

(3) The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario shall forthwith notify the Chief Coroner where the licence of a coroner for the practice of medicine is revoked, suspended or cancelled. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 3 (3).

Resignation

(4) A coroner may resign his or her office in writing. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 3 (4).

Residential areas

(5) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may by regulation establish areas of Ontario and the appointment and continuation in office of a coroner is subject to the condition that he or she is ordinarily resident in the area named in the appointment. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 3 (5).

Crown Attorney notified of appointment

(6) A copy of the order appointing a coroner shall be sent by the Minister to the Crown Attorney of any area in which the coroner will ordinarily act. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 3 (6).

Appointments continued

(7) All persons holding appointments as coroners under The Coroners Act, being chapter 87 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1970, shall be deemed to have been appointed in accordance with this Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 3 (7).

Chief Coroner and duties

4. (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint a coroner to be Chief Coroner for Ontario who shall,

(a) administer this Act and the regulations;

(b) supervise, direct and control all coroners in Ontario in the performance of their duties;

(c) conduct programs for the instruction of coroners in their duties;

(d) bring the findings and recommendations of coroners’ juries to the attention of appropriate persons, agencies and ministries of government;

(e) prepare, publish and distribute a code of ethics for the guidance of coroners;

(f) perform such other duties as are assigned to him or her by or under this or any other Act or by the regulations or by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 4 (1).

Deputy Chief Coroners

(2) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint one or more coroners to be Deputy Chief Coroners for Ontario who may act as and have all the powers and authority of the Chief Coroner during the absence of the Chief Coroner or his or her inability to act. 1999, c. 12, Sched. P, s. 1.

Regional coroners

5. (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint a coroner as a regional coroner for such region of Ontario as is described in the appointment. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 5 (1).

Duties

(2) A regional coroner shall assist the Chief Coroner in the performance of his or her duties in the region and shall perform such other duties as are assigned to him or her by the Chief Coroner. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 5 (2).

6., 7. Repealed: 1998, c. 18, Sched. B, s. 3.

Authority for judge to act as coroner

8. Subject to subsection 15 (1), a provincial judge may perform any of the duties and exercise any of the powers of a coroner in a territorial district in the absence of a coroner. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 8.

Police assistance

9. (1) The police force having jurisdiction in a municipality shall make available to the coroner the assistance of such police officers as are necessary for the purpose of carrying out the coroner’s duties. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 9 (1).

Idem

(2) The Chief Coroner in any case he or she considers appropriate may request that the criminal investigation branch of the Ontario Provincial Police provide assistance to a coroner in an investigation or inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 9 (2).

Duty to give information

10. (1) Every person who has reason to believe that a deceased person died,

(a) as a result of,

(i) violence,

(ii) misadventure,

(iii) negligence,

(iv) misconduct, or

(v) malpractice;

(b) by unfair means;

(c) during pregnancy or following pregnancy in circumstances that might reasonably be attributable thereto;

(d) suddenly and unexpectedly;

(e) from disease or sickness for which he or she was not treated by a legally qualified medical practitioner;

(f) from any cause other than disease; or

(g) under such circumstances as may require investigation,

shall immediately notify a coroner or a police officer of the facts and circumstances relating to the death, and where a police officer is notified he or she shall in turn immediately notify the coroner of such facts and circumstances. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 10 (1).

Deaths to be reported

(2) Where a person dies while resident or an in-patient in,

(a) a charitable institution as defined in the Charitable Institutions Act;

(b) a children’s residence under Part IX (Licensing) of the Child and Family Services Act or premises approved under subsection 9 (1) of Part I (Flexible Services) of that Act;

(c) Repealed: 1994, c. 27, s. 136 (1).

(d) a facility as defined in the Developmental Services Act;

(e) a psychiatric facility designated under the Mental Health Act;

(f) an institution under the Mental Hospitals Act;

(g) Repealed: 1994, c. 27, s. 136 (1).

(h) a public or private hospital to which the person was transferred from a facility, institution or home referred to in clauses (a) to (g),

the person in charge of the hospital, facility, institution, residence or home shall immediately give notice of the death to a coroner, and the coroner shall investigate the circumstances of the death and, if as a result of the investigation he or she is of the opinion that an inquest ought to be held, the coroner shall issue his or her warrant and hold an inquest upon the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 10 (2); 1994, c. 27, s. 136 (1); 2001, c. 13, s. 10.

Deaths in nursing homes and homes for the aged

(2.1) Where a person dies while resident in a home for the aged to which the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act or the Charitable Institutions Act applies or a nursing home to which the Nursing Homes Act applies, the person in charge of the home shall immediately give notice of the death to a coroner and, if the coroner is of the opinion that the death ought to be investigated, he or she shall investigate the circumstances of the death and, if as a result of the investigation he or she is of the opinion that an inquest ought to be held, the coroner shall issue his or her warrant and hold an inquest upon the body. 1994, c. 27, s. 136 (2).

Inmate off premises

(3) Where a person dies while,

(a) a patient of a psychiatric facility;

(b) committed to a correctional institution; or

(c) committed to secure or open custody under section 24.1 of the Young Offenders Act (Canada), whether in accordance with section 88 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (Canada) or otherwise,

but while not on the premises or in actual custody of the facility, institution or place of custody, as the case may be, subsections (1) and (2) apply as if the person were a resident of an institution named therein. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 10 (3); 2006, c. 19, Sched. D, s. 4 (1).

Persons in custody

(4) Where a person dies while detained by or in the actual custody of a peace officer or while an inmate on the premises of a correctional institution, lock-up, or place or facility designated as a place of secure custody under section 24.1 of the Young Offenders Act (Canada), whether in accordance with section 88 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (Canada) or otherwise, the peace officer or officer in charge of the institution, lock-up or place or facility, as the case may be, shall immediately give notice of the death to a coroner and the coroner shall issue a warrant to hold an inquest upon the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 10 (4); 2006, c. 19, Sched. D, s. 4 (2).

Notice of death resulting from accident at or in construction project, mining plant or mine

(5) Where a worker dies as a result of an accident occurring in the course of the worker’s employment at or in a construction project, mining plant or mine, including a pit or quarry, the person in charge of such project, mining plant or mine shall immediately give notice of the death to a coroner and the coroner shall issue a warrant to hold an inquest upon the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 10 (5).

Certificate as evidence

(6) A statement as to the notification or non-notification of a coroner under this section, purporting to be certified by the coroner is without proof of the appointment or signature of the coroner, receivable in evidence as proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary of the facts stated therein for all purposes in any action, proceeding or prosecution. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 10 (6).

Interference with body

11. No person who has reason to believe that a person died in any of the circumstances mentioned in section 10 shall interfere with or alter the body or its condition in any way until the coroner so directs by a warrant. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 11.

Power of coroner to take charge of wreckage

12. (1) Where a coroner has issued a warrant to take possession of the body of a person who has met death by violence in a wreck, the coroner may, with the approval of the Chief Coroner, take charge of the wreckage and place one or more police officers in charge of it so as to prevent persons from disturbing it until the jury at the inquest has viewed it, or the coroner has made such examination as he or she considers necessary. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 12 (1).

View to be expedited

(2) The jury or coroner, as the case may be, shall view the wreckage at the earliest moment possible. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 12 (2).

Shipment of bodies outside Ontario

13. (1) Subject to section 14, no person shall accept for shipment or ship or take a dead body from any place in Ontario to any place outside Ontario unless a certificate of a coroner has been obtained certifying that there exists no reason for further examination of the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 13 (1).

Fee for certificate

(2) An applicant for a certificate under subsection (1) shall pay to the coroner such fee as is prescribed therefor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 13 (2).

Embalming, etc., prohibited

(3) No person who has reason to believe that a dead body will be shipped or taken to a place outside Ontario shall embalm or make any alteration to the body or apply any chemical to the body, internally or externally, until the certificate required by subsection (1) has been issued. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 13 (3).

Transportation of a body out of Ontario for post mortem

14. A coroner may in writing authorize the transportation of a body out of Ontario for post mortem examination and, in such case a provision in any Act or regulation requiring embalming and preparation by a funeral director does not apply. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 14.

Warrant for possession of body; investigation

15. (1) Where a coroner is informed that there is in his or her jurisdiction the body of a person and that there is reason to believe that the person died in any of the circumstances mentioned in section 10, the coroner shall issue a warrant to take possession of the body and shall view the body and make such further investigation as is required to enable the coroner to determine whether or not an inquest is necessary. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 15 (1).

Idem

(2) Where the Chief Coroner has reason to believe that a person died in any of the circumstances mentioned in section 10 and no warrant has been issued to take possession of the body, he or she may issue the warrant or direct any coroner to do so. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 15 (2).

Jurisdiction

(3) After the issue of the warrant, no other coroner shall issue a warrant or interfere in the case, except the Chief Coroner or except under the instructions of the Minister. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 15 (3).

Expert assistance

(4) Subject to the approval of the Chief Coroner, a coroner may obtain assistance or retain expert services for all or any part of his or her investigation or inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 15 (4).

No warrant

(5) A coroner may proceed with an investigation without taking possession of the body where the body has been destroyed in whole or in part or is lying in a place from which it cannot be recovered or has been removed from Ontario. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 15 (5).

Investigative powers

16. (1) A coroner may,

(a) view or take possession of any dead body, or both; and

(b) enter and inspect any place where a dead body is and any place from which the coroner has reasonable grounds for believing the body was removed. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 16 (1).

Idem

(2) A coroner who believes on reasonable and probable grounds that to do so is necessary for the purposes of the investigation may,

(a) inspect any place in which the deceased person was, or in which the coroner has reasonable grounds to believe the deceased person was, prior to his or her death;

(b) inspect and extract information from any records or writings relating to the deceased or his or her circumstances and reproduce such copies therefrom as the coroner believes necessary;

(c) seize anything that the coroner has reasonable grounds to believe is material to the purposes of the investigation. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 16 (2).

Delegation of powers

(3) A coroner may authorize a legally qualified medical practitioner or a police officer to exercise all or any of the coroner’s powers under subsection (1). R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 16 (3).

Idem

(4) A coroner may, where in his or her opinion it is necessary for the purposes of the investigation, authorize a legally qualified medical practitioner or a police officer to exercise all or any of the coroner’s powers under clauses (2) (a), (b) and (c) but, where such power is conditional on the belief of the coroner, the requisite belief shall be that of the coroner personally. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 16 (4).

Return of things seized

(5) Where a coroner seizes anything under clause (2) (c), he or she shall place it in the custody of a police officer for safekeeping and shall return it to the person from whom it was seized as soon as is practicable after the conclusion of the investigation or, where there is an inquest, of the inquest, unless the coroner is authorized or required by law to dispose of it otherwise. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 16 (5).

Obstruction of coroner

(6) No person shall knowingly,

(a) hinder, obstruct or interfere with or attempt to hinder, obstruct or interfere with; or

(b) furnish with false information or refuse or neglect to furnish information to,

a coroner in the performance of his or her duties or a person authorized by the coroner in connection with an investigation. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 16 (6).

Transfer of investigation

17. (1) A coroner may at any time transfer an investigation to another coroner where in his or her opinion the investigation may be continued or conducted more conveniently by that other coroner or for any other good and sufficient reason. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 17 (1).

Investigation and inquest

(2) The coroner to whom an investigation is transferred shall proceed with the investigation in the same manner as if he or she had issued the warrant to take possession of the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 17 (2).

Notification of Chief Coroner

(3) The coroner who transfers an investigation to another coroner shall notify the Chief Coroner of the transfer, and the Chief Coroner shall assist in the transfer upon request. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 17 (3).

Transmitting results of first investigation

(4) The coroner who transfers an investigation to another coroner shall transmit to that other coroner the report of the post mortem examination of the body, if any, and his or her signed statement setting forth briefly the result of his or her investigation and any evidence to prove the fact of death and the identity of the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 17 (4).

Inquest unnecessary

18. (1) Where the coroner determines that an inquest is unnecessary, the coroner shall forthwith transmit to the Chief Coroner, and a copy to the Crown Attorney, a signed statement setting forth briefly the result of the investigation, and shall also forthwith transmit to the division registrar a notice of the death in the form prescribed by the Vital Statistics Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 18 (1).

Record of investigations

(2) Every coroner shall keep a record of the cases reported in which an inquest has been determined to be unnecessary, showing for each case the identity of the deceased and the coroner’s findings of the facts as to how, when, where and by what means the deceased came by his or her death, including the relevant findings of the post mortem examination and of any other examinations or analyses of the body carried out, and such information shall be available to the spouse, parents, children, brothers and sisters of the deceased and to his or her personal representative, upon request. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 18 (2); 1999, c. 6, s. 15 (2); 2005, c. 5, s. 15 (3).

Warrant for inquest

19. Where the coroner determines that an inquest is necessary, the coroner shall issue his or her warrant for an inquest, and shall forthwith transmit to the Chief Coroner, and a copy to the Crown Attorney, a signed statement setting forth briefly the result of the investigation and the grounds upon which the coroner determined that an inquest should be held. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 19.

What coroner shall consider and have regard to

20. When making a determination whether an inquest is necessary or unnecessary, the coroner shall have regard to whether the holding of an inquest would serve the public interest and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, shall consider,

(a) whether the matters described in clauses 31 (1) (a) to (e) are known;

(b) the desirability of the public being fully informed of the circumstances of the death through an inquest; and

(c) the likelihood that the jury on an inquest might make useful recommendations directed to the avoidance of death in similar circumstances. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 20.

Where body destroyed or removed from Ontario

21. Where a coroner has reason to believe that a death has occurred in circumstances that warrant the holding of an inquest but, owing to the destruction of the body in whole or in part or to the fact that the body is lying in a place from which it cannot be recovered, or that the body has been removed from Ontario, an inquest cannot be held except by virtue of this section, he or she shall report the facts to the Chief Coroner who may direct an inquest to be held touching the death, in which case an inquest shall be held by the coroner making the report or by such other coroner as the Chief Coroner directs, and the law relating to coroners and coroners’ inquests applies with such modifications as are necessary in consequence of the inquest being held otherwise than on or after a view of the body. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 21.

Minister may direct coroner to hold inquest

22. Where the Minister has reason to believe that a death has occurred in Ontario in circumstances that warrant the holding of an inquest, the Minister may direct any coroner to hold an inquest and the coroner shall hold the inquest into the death in accordance with this Act, whether or not he or she or any other coroner has viewed the body, made an investigation, held an inquest, determined an inquest was unnecessary or done any other act in connection with the death. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 22.

Inquest mandatory

22.1 A coroner shall hold an inquest under this Act into the death of a child upon learning that the child died in the circumstances described in clauses 72.2 (a), (b) and (c) of the Child and Family Services Act. 2006, c. 24, s. 2 (1).

Commissioner

23. (1) The Minister may appoint a commissioner to conduct an inquest in place of a coroner where the Minister considers it advisable. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 23 (1).

Powers

(2) A commissioner appointed under subsection (1) has all the powers and duties of the coroner otherwise having jurisdiction for all purposes connected with the inquest and the coroner shall be deemed to be a person with standing at the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 23 (2).

Minister may direct that body be disinterred

24. Despite anything in the Cemeteries Act, the Minister may, at any time where he or she considers it necessary for the purposes of an investigation or an inquest, direct that a body be disinterred under and subject to such conditions as the Minister considers proper. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 24.

Note: On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, section 24 is amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 2002, chapter 33, section 142 by striking out “Cemeteries Act” and substituting “Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002 or a regulation made under that Act”. See: 2002, c. 33, ss. 142, 154.

Direction by Chief Coroner

25. (1) The Chief Coroner may direct any coroner in respect of any death to issue a warrant to take possession of the body, conduct an investigation or hold an inquest, or may direct any other coroner to do so or may intervene to act as coroner personally for any one or more of such purposes. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 25 (1).

Inquest into multiple deaths

(2) Where two or more deaths appear to have occurred in the same event or from a common cause, the Chief Coroner may direct that one inquest be held into all of the deaths. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 25 (2).

Direction to replace coroner

(3) If the Chief Coroner is of the opinion that a coroner is unable to continue presiding over an inquest for any reason, the Chief Coroner may direct another coroner to continue the inquest. 1994, c. 27, s. 136 (3).

Request by relative for inquest

26. (1) Where the coroner determines that an inquest is unnecessary, the spouse, parent, child, brother, sister or personal representative of the deceased person may request the coroner in writing to hold an inquest, and the coroner shall give the person requesting the inquest an opportunity to state his or her reasons, either personally, by the person’s agent or in writing, and the coroner shall advise the person in writing within sixty days of the receipt of the request of the coroner’s final decision and where the decision is to not hold an inquest shall deliver the reasons therefor in writing. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 26 (1); 1999, c. 6, s. 15 (3); 2005, c. 5, s. 15 (4).

Review of refusal

(2) Where the final decision of a coroner under subsection (1) is to not hold an inquest, the person making the request may, within twenty days after the receipt of the decision of the coroner, request the Chief Coroner to review the decision and the Chief Coroner shall review the decision of the coroner after giving the person requesting the inquest an opportunity to state his or her reasons either personally, by the person’s agent or in writing. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 26 (2).

Decision final

(3) Subject to section 22, the decision of the Chief Coroner is final. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 26 (3).

Where criminal offence charged

27. (1) Where a person is charged with an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) arising out of a death, an inquest touching the death shall be held only upon the direction of the Minister and, when held, the person charged is not a compellable witness. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 27 (1).

Idem

(2) Where during an inquest a person is charged with an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) arising out of the death, the coroner shall discharge the jury and close the inquest, and shall then proceed as if he or she had determined that an inquest was unnecessary, but the Minister may direct that the inquest be reopened. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 27 (2).

Where charge or appeal finally disposed of

(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), where a person is charged with an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) arising out of the death and the charge or any appeal from a conviction or an acquittal of the offence charged has been finally disposed of or the time for taking an appeal has expired, the coroner may issue a warrant for an inquest and the person charged is a compellable witness at the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 27 (3).

Post mortem examinations and analyses

28. (1) A coroner may at any time during an investigation or inquest issue a warrant for a post mortem examination of the body, an analysis of the blood, urine or contents of the stomach and intestines, or such other examination or analysis as the circumstances warrant. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 28 (1).

Report

(2) The person who performs the post mortem examination shall forthwith report his or her findings in writing only to the coroner who issued the warrant, the Crown Attorney, the regional coroner and the Chief Coroner and the person who performs any other examination or analysis shall forthwith report his or her findings in writing only to the coroner who issued the warrant, the person who performed the post mortem examination, the Crown Attorney, the regional coroner and the Chief Coroner. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 28 (2).

Extraction and use of pituitary gland

29. (1) Any person performing a post mortem examination of a body under the warrant of a coroner may extract the pituitary gland and cause it to be delivered to any person or agency designated by the Chief Coroner for use in the treatment of persons having a growth hormone deficiency. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 29 (1).

Objections

(2) This section applies where the coroner or person performing the post mortem examination has no reason to believe that the deceased has expressed an objection to his or her body being so dealt with after death or that the surviving spouse, parent, child, brother, sister or personal representative objects to the body being so dealt with, and although no consent otherwise required by law is given. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 29 (2); 1999, c. 6, s. 15 (4); 2005, c. 5, s. 15 (5).

Crown counsel

30. (1) Every coroner before holding an inquest shall notify the Crown Attorney of the time and place at which it is to be held and the Crown Attorney or a barrister and solicitor or any other person designated by him or her shall attend the inquest and shall act as counsel to the coroner at the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 30 (1).

Counsel for Minister

(2)The Minister may be represented at an inquest by counsel and shall be deemed to be a person with standing at the inquest for the purpose. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 30 (2).

Purposes of inquest

31. (1) Where an inquest is held, it shall inquire into the circumstances of the death and determine,

(a) who the deceased was;

(b) how the deceased came to his or her death;

(c) when the deceased came to his or her death;

(d) where the deceased came to his or her death; and

(e) by what means the deceased came to his or her death. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 31 (1).

Idem

(2) The jury shall not make any finding of legal responsibility or express any conclusion of law on any matter referred to in subsection (1). R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 31 (2).

Authority of jury to make recommendations

(3) Subject to subsection (2), the jury may make recommendations directed to the avoidance of death in similar circumstances or respecting any other matter arising out of the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 31 (3).

Improper finding

(4) A finding that contravenes subsection (2) is improper and shall not be received. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 31 (4).

Failure to make proper finding

(5) Where a jury fails to deliver a proper finding it shall be discharged. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 31 (5).

Inquest public

32. An inquest shall be open to the public except where the coroner is of the opinion that national security might be endangered or where a person is charged with an indictable offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) in which cases the coroner may hold the hearing concerning any such matters in the absence of the public. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 32.

Juries

33. (1) Except as provided in subsection (4), every inquest shall be held with a jury composed of five persons. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 33 (1).

Jurors

(2) The coroner shall direct a constable to select from the list of names of persons provided under subsection 34 (2) five persons who in his or her opinion are suitable to serve as jurors at an inquest and the constable shall summon them to attend the inquest at the time and place appointed. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 33 (2).

Idem

(3) Where fewer than five of the jurors so summoned attend at the inquest, the coroner may name and appoint so many persons then present or who can be found as will make up a jury of five. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 33 (3).

Inquest without jury in territorial district

(4) With the consent of the Chief Coroner, an inquest in a territorial district may be held without a jury. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 33 (4).

List of jurors

34. (1) A coroner may by his or her warrant require the sheriff for the area in which an inquest is to be held to provide a list of the names of such number of persons as the coroner specifies in the warrant taken from the jury roll prepared under the Juries Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (1).

Idem

(2) Upon receipt of the warrant, the sheriff shall provide the list containing names of persons in the number specified by the coroner, taken from the jury roll prepared under the Juries Act, together with their ages, places of residence and occupations. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (2).

Eligibility

(3) No person who is ineligible to serve as a juror under the Juries Act shall be summoned to serve or shall serve as a juror at an inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (3).

Idem

(4) An officer, employee or inmate of a hospital or an institution referred to in subsection 10 (2) or (3) shall not serve as a juror at an inquest upon the death of a person who died therein. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (4).

Excusing from service

(5) The coroner may excuse any person on the list from being summoned or from serving as a juror on the grounds of illness or hardship. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (5).

Exclusion of juror with interest

(6) The coroner presiding at an inquest may exclude a person from being sworn as a juror where the coroner believes there is a likelihood that the person, because of interest or bias, would be unable to render a verdict in accordance with the evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (6).

Excusing of juror for illness

(7) Where in the course of an inquest the coroner is satisfied that a juror should not, because of illness or other reasonable cause, continue to act, the coroner may discharge the juror. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (7).

Continuation with reduced jury

(8) Where in the course of an inquest a member of the jury dies or becomes incapacitated from any cause or is excluded or discharged by the coroner under subsection (6) or (7) or is found to be ineligible to serve, the jury shall, unless the coroner otherwise directs and if the number of jurors is not reduced below three, be deemed to remain properly constituted for all purposes of the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 34 (8).

Report to sheriff re jury service

35. On or before the 31st day of December in each year, the coroner shall advise the sheriff of the names of persons who have received fees for service as jurors at inquests and the number of each such name on the jury roll. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 35.

Jury irregularities not to affect outcome

36. The omission to observe any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations respecting the eligibility and selection of jurors is not a ground for impeaching or quashing a verdict. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 36.

Jury, viewing body and asking questions

View of body

37. (1) The jury shall view the body where the coroner directs them to do so. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 37 (1).

Questions

(2) The jurors are entitled to ask relevant questions of each witness. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 37 (2).

Majority verdict

38. A verdict or finding may be returned by a majority of the jurors sworn. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 38.

Service of summonses

39. A summons to a juror or to a witness may be served by personal service or by sending it by registered mail addressed to the usual place of abode of the person summoned. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 39.

Summonses

40. (1) A coroner may require any person by summons,

(a) to give evidence on oath or affirmation at an inquest; and

(b) to produce in evidence at an inquest documents and things specified by the coroner,

relevant to the subject-matter of the inquest and admissible. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 40 (1).

Form and service of summonses

(2) A summons issued under subsection (1) shall be in the prescribed form and shall be signed by the coroner. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 40 (2); 1997, c. 39, s. 4 (1).

Bench warrants

(3) Upon proof to the satisfaction of a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of the service of a summons under this section upon a person and that,

(a) such person has failed to attend or to remain in attendance at an inquest in accordance with the requirements of the summons; and

(b) the person’s presence is material to the inquest,

the judge may, by a warrant in the prescribed form, directed to any sheriff or police officer, cause such witness to be apprehended anywhere within Ontario and forthwith to be brought to the inquest and to be detained in custody as the judge may order until the person’s presence as a witness at the inquest is no longer required, or, in the discretion of the judge, to be released on a recognizance (with or without sureties) conditioned for appearance to give evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 40 (3); 1997, c. 39, s. 4 (2); 2006, c. 19, Sched. C, s. 1 (1).

Proof of service

(4) Service of a summons may be proved by affidavit in an application under subsection (3). R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 40 (4).

Certificate of facts

(5) Where an application under subsection (3) is made on behalf of a coroner, the coroner may certify to the judge the facts relied on to establish that the presence of the person summoned is material for the purposes of the inquest and such certificate may be accepted by the judge as proof of such facts. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 40 (5).

Persons with standing at inquest

41. (1) On the application of any person before or during an inquest, the coroner shall designate the person as a person with standing at the inquest if the coroner finds that the person is substantially and directly interested in the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 41 (1); 1993, c. 27, Sched.; 1999, c. 12, Sched. P, s. 2.

Rights of persons with standing at inquest

(2) A person designated as a person with standing at an inquest may,

(a) be represented by counsel or an agent;

Note: Effective May 1, 2007, clause (a) is amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 2006, chapter 21, Schedule C, subsection 104 (1) by striking out “by counsel or an agent” at the end and substituting “by a person authorized under the Law Society Act to represent the person with standing”. See: 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, ss. 104 (1), 138 (2).

(b) call and examine witnesses and present arguments and submissions;

(c) conduct cross-examinations of witnesses at the inquest relevant to the interest of the person with standing and admissible. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 41 (2).

Costs of representation

(3) If the coroner in an inquest into the death of a victim as defined in the Victims’ Bill of Rights, 1995 designates a spouse, same-sex partner or parent of the victim as a person with standing at the inquest, the person may apply to the Minister to have the costs that the person incurs for representation by legal counsel in connection with the inquest paid out of the victims’ justice fund account continued under subsection 5 (1) of the Victims’ Bill of Rights, 1995. 2006, c. 24, s. 2 (2).

Payment

(4) Subject to the approval of Management Board of Cabinet, payment of the costs described in subsection (3) may be made out of the victims’ justice fund account. 2006, c. 24, s. 2 (2).

Protection for witnesses

42. (1) A witness at an inquest shall be deemed to have objected to answer any question asked the witness upon the ground that his or her answer may tend to criminate the witness or may tend to establish his or her liability to civil proceedings at the instance of the Crown, or of any person, and no answer given by a witness at an inquest shall be used or be receivable in evidence against the witness in any trial or other proceedings against him or her thereafter taking place, other than a prosecution for perjury in giving such evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 42 (1).

Right to object under Canada Evidence Act

(2) Where it appears at any stage of the inquest that the evidence that a witness is about to give would tend to criminate the witness, it is the duty of the coroner and of the Crown Attorney to ensure that the witness is informed of his or her rights under section 5 of the Canada Evidence Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 42 (2).

Rights of witnesses to counsel

43. (1) A witness at an inquest is entitled to be advised by his or her counsel or agent as to his or her rights but such counsel or agent may take no other part in the inquest without leave of the coroner. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 43 (1).

Idem

(2) Where an inquest is held in the absence of the public, a counsel or agent for a witness is not entitled to be present except when that witness is giving evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 43 (2).

Note: Effective May 1, 2007, section 43 is repealed by the Statutes of Ontario, 2006, chapter 21, Schedule C, subsection 104 (2) and the following substituted:

Rights of witnesses to representation

43. (1) A witness at an inquest is entitled to be advised as to his or her rights by a person authorized under the Law Society Act to advise him or her, but such person may take no other part in the inquest without leave of the coroner. 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 104 (2).

Same

(2) Where an inquest is held in the absence of the public, a person advising a witness under subsection (1) is not entitled to be present except when that witness is giving evidence. 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 104 (2).

See: 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, ss. 104 (2), 138 (2).

Admissibility of evidence

What is admissible in evidence at inquest

44. (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a coroner may admit as evidence at an inquest, whether or not admissible as evidence in a court,

(a) any oral testimony; and

(b) any document or other thing,

relevant to the purposes of the inquest and may act on such evidence, but the coroner may exclude anything unduly repetitious or anything that the coroner considers does not meet such standards of proof as are commonly relied on by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their own affairs and the coroner may comment on the weight that ought to be given to any particular evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 44 (1).

What is inadmissible in evidence at inquest

(2) Nothing is admissible in evidence at an inquest,

(a) that would be inadmissible in a court by reason of any privilege under the law of evidence; or

(b) that is inadmissible by the statute under which the proceedings arise or any other statute. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 44 (2).

Conflicts

(3) Nothing in subsection (1) overrides the provisions of any Act expressly limiting the extent to or purposes for which any oral testimony, documents or things may be admitted or used in evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 44 (3).

Copies

(4) Where the coroner is satisfied as to their authenticity, a copy of a document or other thing may be admitted as evidence at an inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 44 (4).

Photocopies

(5) Where a document has been filed in evidence at an inquest, the coroner may, or the person producing it or entitled to it may with the leave of the coroner, cause the document to be photocopied and the coroner may authorize the photocopy to be filed in evidence in the place of the document filed and release the document filed, or may furnish to the person producing it or the person entitled to it a photocopy of the document filed certified by the coroner. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 44 (5).

Taking evidence

45. (1) The evidence upon an inquest or any part of it shall be recorded by a person appointed by the coroner and approved by the Crown Attorney and who before acting shall make oath or affirmation that he or she will truly and faithfully record the evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 45 (1).

Transcription of evidence

(2) It is not necessary to transcribe the evidence unless the Minister, Chief Coroner or Crown Attorney orders it to be done or unless any other person requests a copy of the transcript and pays the fees therefor except that the coroner may prohibit the transcribing of all or any part of evidence taken in the absence of the public. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 45 (2).

Adjournments

46. An inquest may be adjourned from time to time by the coroner of his or her own motion or where it is shown to the satisfaction of the coroner that the adjournment is required to permit an adequate hearing to be held. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 46.

Maintenance of order at inquest

47. A coroner may make such orders or give such directions at an inquest as he or she considers necessary for the maintenance of order at the inquest, and, if any person disobeys or fails to comply with any such order or direction, the coroner may call for the assistance of any peace officer to enforce the order or direction, and every peace officer so called upon shall take such action as is necessary to enforce the order or direction and may use such force as is reasonably required for that purpose. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 47.

Interpreters and constables

Interpreters

48. (1) A coroner may, and if required by the Crown Attorney or requested by the witness shall, employ a person to act as interpreter for a witness at an inquest, and such person may be summoned to attend the inquest and before acting shall make oath or affirm that he or she will truly and faithfully translate the evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 48 (1).

Constables

(2) A coroner may appoint such persons as constables as the coroner considers necessary for the purpose of assisting the coroner in an inquest and, on the request of the coroner, the police force having jurisdiction in the locality in which an inquest is held shall provide a police officer for the purpose and, before acting, every such constable shall take oath or affirm that he or she will faithfully perform his or her duties. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 48 (2).

Administration of oaths

49. The coroner conducting an inquest has power to administer oaths and affirmations for the purpose of the inquest. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 49.

Further powers of coroner

Abuse of processes

50. (1) A coroner may make such orders or give such directions at an inquest as the coroner considers proper to prevent abuse of its processes. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 50 (1).

Limitation on cross-examination

(2) A coroner may reasonably limit further cross-examination of a witness where the coroner is satisfied that the cross-examination of the witness has been sufficient to disclose fully and fairly the facts in relation to which the witness has given evidence. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 50 (2).

Exclusion of agents

(3) A coroner may exclude from a hearing anyone, other than a barrister and solicitor qualified to practise in Ontario, appearing as an agent advising a witness if the coroner finds that such person is not competent properly to advise the witness or does not understand and comply at the inquest with the duties and responsibilities of an adviser. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 50 (3).

Note: Effective May 1, 2007, subsection (3) is repealed by the Statutes of Ontario, 2006, chapter 21, Schedule C, subsection 104 (3) and the following substituted:

Exclusion of representatives

(3) A coroner may exclude from a hearing anyone, other than a person licensed under the Law Society Act, advising a witness if the coroner finds that such person is not competent properly to advise the witness, or does not understand and comply at the inquest with the duties and responsibilities of an adviser. 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, s. 104 (3).

See: 2006, c. 21, Sched. C, ss. 104 (3), 138 (2).

Contempt proceedings

51. Where any person without lawful excuse,

(a) on being duly summoned as a witness or a juror at an inquest makes default in attending at the inquest; or

(b) being in attendance as a witness at an inquest, refuses to take an oath or to make an affirmation legally required by the coroner to be taken or made, or to produce any document or thing in his or her power or control legally required by the coroner to be produced by the person or to answer any question to which the coroner may legally require an answer; or

(c) does any other thing that would, if the inquest had been a court of law having power to commit for contempt, have been contempt of that court,

the coroner may state a case to the Divisional Court setting out the facts and that court may, on application on behalf of and in the name of the coroner, inquire into the matter and, after hearing any witnesses who may be produced against or on behalf of that person and after hearing any statement that may be offered in defence, punish or take steps for the punishment of that person in like manner as if he or she had been guilty of contempt of the court. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 51.

Conclusion of inquest

Return of verdict

52. (1) The coroner shall forthwith after an inquest return the verdict or finding, with the evidence where the Minister, Crown Attorney or Chief Coroner has ordered it to be transcribed, to the Chief Coroner, and shall transmit a copy of the verdict and recommendations to the Crown Attorney. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 52 (1).

Release of exhibits

(2) After an inquest is concluded, the coroner shall, upon request, release documents and things put in evidence at the inquest to the lawful owner or person entitled to possession thereof. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 52 (2).

Protection from liability

53. No action or other proceeding for damages lies or shall be instituted against a coroner or any person acting under the coroner’s authority for an act done by him or her in good faith in the performance or intended performance of any power or duty under this Act or the regulations, or for any neglect or default in the performance in good faith of any such power or duty. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 53.

Seals not necessary

54. In proceedings under this Act, it is not necessary for a person to affix a seal to a document, and no document is invalidated by reason of the lack of a seal, even though the document purports to be sealed. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 54.

Offences

55. Any person who contravenes section 10, 11, 13 or subsection 16 (6) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 55.

Regulations and fees

56. (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

(a) prescribing powers and duties of the Chief Coroner;

(b), (c) Repealed: 1997, c. 39, s. 5 (1).

(d) providing for the selecting, recording, summoning, attendance and service of persons as jurors at inquests;

(e) prescribing the contents of oaths and affirmations required or authorized by this Act;

(f) prescribing matters that may be grounds for disqualification because of interest or bias of jurors for the purposes of subsection 34 (6);

(g) Repealed: 1997, c. 39, s. 5 (1).

(h) prescribing additional rules of procedure for inquests. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.37, s. 56; 1997, c. 39, s. 5 (1).

Same

(2) The Minister may make regulations,

(a) prescribing forms and providing for their use;

(b) prescribing fees and allowances that shall be paid to persons rendering services in connection with coroners’ investigations and inquests and providing for the adjustment of such fees and allowances in special circumstances. 1997, c. 39, s. 5 (2).

Coroners’ fees and allowances

(3) The Minister may set fees and allowances for coroners for services performed under this or any other Act and may provide for the adjustment of such fees and allowances in special circumstances. 1997, c. 39, s. 5 (2).

FORMS 1, 2 Repealed: 1997, c. 39, s. 6.

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