State Coroner issues Practice Directions

The State Coroner has issued two new Practice Directions – one to provide in-depth guidance to any party appearing at an inquest and the other to clearly articulate the definition of a family statement that may be issued at the end of an inquest.

Practice Direction No1/2024 sets out the general principles governing inquests, most notably that they are investigative rather than adversarial in nature, are not designed to determine criminal or civil liability, and are based on the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.

The new practice direction also explains the requirements and processes of a pre-inquest conference for parties in more detail than the State Coroner’s Guidelines 2013, Chapter 9.

“The document should be a useful ‘user guide’ for parties involved in an inquest including those who are unaccustomed to the process,” said a Coroners Court of Queensland spokesperson.

The practice direction sets down specific timeframes through proceedings, including that an inquest will generally not be held less than two months after a pre-inquest conference, a timeframe for the distribution of witness list schedules, and that families and parties would be given a minimum one-week advance notice of the delivery of findings.

The topic of family photographs, cultural ceremonies, banners, t-shirts, and other personal items are addressed by the new practice direction.


Practice Direction No2/2024 clarifies what a Family Statement is and the information it may contain.

The practice direction expands significantly on the State Coroner’s Guidelines 2013, Chapter 2 – the rights and interests of family members, section 2.11 – involvement in inquests – recognition of deceased person in life.

Section 2.11 states: The coronial process is very much focused on the deceased’s final moments and the events leading to the death, often at the expense of recognition of who the deceased was in life. Coroners are encouraged to invite families to provide the court with a social history for their loved one so this information can be reflected in the coroner’s findings if considered appropriate.

“This section has been understood in the overwhelming majority of matters but there may be a capacity for it to be mistaken for a victim impact statement that is common in criminal proceedings, or to be used for other means,” the Coroners Court spokesperson said.

“The new practice direction leaves no doubt as to the intent and spirit of Section 2.11.”

The practice direction mandates that a Family Statement should outline the social history of the deceased, their familial links, their hobbies, interests, and their loved ones’ memories of them. 


The practice direction confirms the Family Statement should not contain any new evidence relevant to the inquest or allegations of criminal or civil liability against any organisation or person, or the laying of blame.

It also clarifies that a Family Statement is not a victim impact statement and should not be referred to as such at any time in the coronial jurisdiction.

It also lays out a seven-point procedure for the provision of family statements.

Both Practice Directions take effect on 1 June 2024.

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