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BSB publishes its Coroners’ Courts Evaluation Report

Breaking NewsBSB publishes its Coroners' Courts Evaluation Report

In September 2021, in response to concerns raised about standards of practice in the Coroners’ Courts, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and CILEx Regulation Ltd (CRL), with assistance from the Deputy Chief Coroner and a working group, published a set of Competences for practitioners (barristers, solicitors and CILEx practitioners) which outlined the skills, attributes and knowledge that practitioners need to be effective in the Coroners’ Courts. A toolkit was also developed, containing resources to raise awareness about how to report concerns about standards in the Coroners’ Courts.  The toolkit also helps practitioners to understand the challenges of practising in inquests and to identify the learning and development they need to address to meet those challenges.

Following publication of these resources, an evaluation was carried out to determine the extent to which the competences and toolkit have met the overarching objectives of the project. Evaluation work started in September 2023 looking at awareness of these resources at the Bar and among key stakeholders and whether they have contributed to improving standards in the Coroners’ Courts.

The evaluation found awareness of the resources among barristers and coroners is high, with over 75% of barristers practising in the Coroners’ Courts and over 95% of coroners stating that they were aware of the resources. The evaluation also suggests that the majority of both barristers and coroners who are aware of the resources are using them, and that most view them as helpful and would recommend them to colleagues.

Overall, the evaluation findings around the impact of the resources are more mixed than the generally positive findings around the awareness, use and value of the resources. While the resources are seen by some as having had a positive impact, the majority appear to feel that more needs to be done to address some of the issues which the competences and toolkit seek to address – such as unnecessarily adversarial behaviour..

Following this evaluation, the BSB will continue to work with the SRA and CRL to consider the findings, look into suggested changes to the resources and explore whether parts of the toolkit need to be expanded or amended. Additionally, we will work with the Deputy Chief Coroner and other key stakeholders, to identify and agree on ways to continue raising awareness of the resources among practitioners and coroners.

Commenting on the evaluation report, Rupika Madhura, BSB Director of Standards (Interim) said:

Barristers practising in inquests in the Coroners’ Courts face a unique set of challenges. It is therefore crucial that their professional skills and specialist knowledge are up to date in order for their advocacy to be effective. It was important for us to undertake this evaluation work to understand if the Competences and toolkit we introduced in 2021 are having the desired impact. This report demonstrates that levels of awareness of the toolkit among the profession are high and it is generally considered helpful. We will continue to work with the SRA and CRL, along with the Deputy Chief Coroner, to update our resources as necessary and to promote their use by the profession and coroners alike.

You can read the full evaluation report here and a research summary here.

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