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Outstanding inquests data (FOI)

Outstanding inquests data (FOI)

Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 08 December 2023.
Prepared internally, no external costs.


What is the current number of outstanding inquests?

Please provide any information  about how long it has been since these inquests have been opened.

How many vacancies exist in the Viscount's department, and what measures are being taken to recruit, as well as efforts, if relevant, to take on extra temporary staff?

Please advise if there is concern about the length of time taken, and the impact of long waits on family members.


The figures given below are as at 30 November 2023. There are 102 inquests which have been opened pursuant to the Inquests and Post-mortem Examinations (Jersey) Law 1995 and have not yet concluded.
22 of those cases relate to criminal investigations or proceedings, including three from the L’Ecume II / ferry collision and ten from the Haut Du Mont explosion.   It is a requirement of the Inquests and Post-mortem Examinations (Jersey) Law 1995 that when a person has been, or may be, charged with causing the death in respect of which the inquest is being held, the Viscount shall adjourn the inquest until after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings.
Each sudden and unexpected death reported to the Viscount is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. No data is held in relation to the average time taken from the death being reported to the Viscount and the outcome of the Viscount’s investigation, whether that be by authorisation of a death certificate or the conclusion of an inquest. 
New cases arise on an almost daily basis. Three inquests were opened and adjourned on 17 November 2023.
The longest running inquest which has not yet concluded relates to a death which occurred in September 2018. This death has been the subject of criminal investigations. A Pre-Inquest Review Hearing has been held and subject to the outcome of further enquiries, a date for the conclusion of this multi-day inquest is likely to be set for some time in the next six months.
Further details about the number of deaths reported to the Viscount and inquests completed can be found in the Jersey Court Service annual reports published on  
Viscount's reports and documents (
The 2023 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the Viscount’s Department is FTE 31.83. As at 20 November 2023 the appointed FTE’s (including a new starter arriving in early January 2024) is FTE 24.14 and vacant posts were FTE 7.69. The Viscount’s Department are recruiting new team members in accordance with the States employment process. With respect to the Viscount’s role as coroner and the associated administrative support required, this is a specialist role with little or no synergy with other workstreams of the department and this makes recruitment more challenging.  
The coroner is always mindful of the bereaved family’s situation and the impact that delays can cause them, as well as others connected with a death such as witnesses, some of whom might be vulnerable and traumatised by a death. For these reasons, the aim remains for inquests to be advanced as expeditiously as possible through the court process. There are many reasons why an inquest may take time to complete. A few examples include: waiting for the conclusion of criminal proceedings or other statutory investigations in relation to a death; waiting for the results of specialist tests and analyses or examination of organs and tissues; waiting for information concerning deaths of Jersey citizens abroad where evidence is obtained through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; at the request of family who wish to attend the inquest; the availability of witnesses and experts; and additional enquiries that arise during the course of the investigation requiring further expert and specialist opinion.
The major fatalities caused by the L’Ecume II / ferry collision and the Haut Du Mont explosion, coupled with a greater than usual number of deaths in 2022, particularly over the winter period 2022/23, have had a significant impact on the workload of the small but dedicated coroner team at the Viscount’s Department.​
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