• The Chief Coroner’s Offi cer has been abolished and the role of Chief Coroner, one of the more popular suggestions from the recent review of coronial law, has been abandoned as a result of the recent “bonfi re of quangos”. It remains to be seen what reforms will now be implemented. It would appear that some of the functions will be transferred either to the Lord Chancellor or the Lord Chief Justice.
  • At last, good news for defendants and insurers! Mr Christopher Chope MP has proposed a Private Members’ Bill, the Compensation (Limitation) Bill, to heavily curtail conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and After the Event Insurance (ATE). If the Bill is passed, neither CFA success fees nor ATE premiums will be recoverable from the losing party in civil litigation. The Bill also proposes to facilitate agreements on damages for contingency fees in successful litigation. The Bill had its fi rst reading in the House of Commons on 21 October 2010 and will be read a second time on 18 March 2011.
  • The third summary of Rule 43 reports and responses issued by Coroners has recently been published by the Ministry of Justice. To read the summary, click on this link: http://www.justice.gov. uk/rule-43-bulletin-06-07-2009-web.pdf. As this is the third report, patterns and trends are starting to emerge. The largest percentage of the Rule 43 reports relate to hospital deaths (30%) with the major issues remaining communication, procedures, protocols and staff training. The report names and shames those organisations who have not yet responded to Rule 43 reports or sought an extension to do so. Also of use to those working in the healthcare fi eld are the more detailed reports which have been selected, as the lessons learned are of wider implication than the individual death which resulted in the report. There remain signifi cant geographical variations between Coroners, knowledge of which can assist with the preparation of an inquest.