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Uptake of Coroners’ recommendations to be investigated

Sun striking the Clocktower

Tuesday 15 May 2012 1:07pm

A major new study will examine whether Coroners’ recommendations are being acted on and helping to save lives.

University of Otago Faculty of Law researchers Professor Mark Henaghan and Dr Jennifer Moore will review all Coroners’ findings and recommendations between 2006 and 2011 and interview around 60 agencies and organisations to determine how much they take notice of the findings.

The New Zealand Law Foundation-funded study is commencing as Coroners express frustration that their recommendations are not being followed up. Chief Coroner Neil McLean has reportedly urged the Government to look at making it compulsory for relevant agencies to consider Coroners’ recommendations, as happens in some other countries.

Dr Moore says there is a pressing and overdue need for good information on how Coroners’ recommendations are being implemented.

“A common refrain of those who have lost family members is that they want the coronial system to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” she says.

“Coroners have said that agencies are failing to take their recommendations seriously, but are all their recommendations possible to implement? Should mandatory follow-up be part of New Zealand law? Any such law reform must be evidence-based, not anecdotal.”

The Otago University project will work in collaboration with Coronial Services, and will take account of overseas experience, including a similar research project in Victoria, Australia, where there is mandatory follow-up of Coroners’ findings.

Law Foundation Director Lynda Hagen said the Foundation was fully funding the project, at a cost of $138,000, with completion scheduled for late 2015.

“We are very pleased to support this work given its relevance and topicality. It’s an important project that will fill a vital knowledge gap in our legal and public health system,” she says.

The Law Foundation is an independent charitable trust that supports research and education on legal issues.

For further information, contact

Dr Jennifer Moore
University of Otago
Mob 021 259 5661

Professor Mark Henaghan
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 8856

Lynda Hagen
NZ Law Foundation
Tel 64 4 499 1038

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