Last updated 20 January 2022
The coroner may make a number of decisions after a death has occurred. If you are unhappy with a coroner’s decision, you can request an explanation of the decision. The coroner’s explanation will show you what information was taken into account by the coroner in making the decision, and help you to identify anything you think the coroner incorrectly decided.
Decisions you may request an explanation for
The coroner is not required to provide an explanation for every decision made (see Public Service Board (NSW) v Osmond (1986) 159 CLR 656). However, you will be able to request an explanation for a decision if:
- the decision is an ultimate decision and not just a step along the way in the coroner’s reasoning process (ss 8, 21 Judicial Review Act 1991 (Qld) (Judicial Review Act)) (see Attorney-General (Cth) v Queensland (1990) 25 FCR 125, 142; Australian Broadcasting Tribunal v Bond (1990) 170 CLR 321, 337). Generally, if the decision is provided for in the Coroners Act and, by itself, affects your legal rights or obligations, it will be reviewable (see Griffith University v Tang (2005) 221 CLR 99)
- you have been adversely affected by the decision (s 7 Judicial Review Act) to a greater extent than the general public.
- rules of natural justice were not upheld
- coroner did not follow the required procedures
- Coroners Act or other legislation did not authorise the decision
- decision was an improper exercise of the power conferred by the Coroners Act
- decision involved an error of law
- decision was induced or affected by fraud or was not justified by evidence or was otherwise contrary to law.
Generally, you will be able to request an explanation if the coroner decided:
- that a death is, or is not, a reportable death (s 11A Coroners Act 2003 (Qld) (Coroners Act))
- to hold, or not to hold, an inquest (s 28 Coroners Act)
- about your right to appear, examine witnesses and make submissions at an inquest (s 36 Coroners Act)
- about excluding someone from the inquest or the pre-inquest conference (s 43 Coroners Act).
To make the request, you must give written notice to the coroner who made the decision by:
- emailing the firstname.lastname@example.org
- sending a letter to the Coroners Court of Queensland, GPO Box 1649, Brisbane Qld 4001.
If your request is approved, the coroner must provide you with a statement containing the reasons for their decision (s 34 Judicial Review Act) including their findings on key factual issues and reference to the evidence on which those findings are based (s 27B Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld)) (see Gibson v The Minister for Finance, Natural Resources and the Arts  QSC 132). This statement must be provided to you, as soon as practicable and within 28 days of receiving the request (s 33(1) Judicial Review Act).
If the coroner’s statement does not properly explain their conclusions or lacks detail, the statement may not be compliant (see Our Town FM Pty Ltd v Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (1987) 77 ALR 577, 594–596; Ergon Energy Corporation Ltd v Rice-McDonald  1 Qd R 516 ; Salazar-Arbelaez v Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (1977) 18 ALR 36) and you can apply to the court for an order to comply (s 38 Judicial Review Act) or an order to provide a further statement (s 40 Judicial Review Act). To do this, you will need to fill out a Form 55. Once you have filled out the form, you will need to go to the registry at a court house to have it signed and sealed by the registrar. Following this, you will need to serve it on the coroner via email or post as outlined above.
Refusal to give an explanation
If the coroner refuses to give reasons, they must, within 28 days of receiving your request:
- advise you why you are not entitled to make the request
- apply to the court for an order declaring that you were not entitled to make the request (s 33(2) Judicial Review Act).
The coroner can also refuse to give reasons if you have not requested the reasons within a reasonable time after the decision was made (s 33(4) Judicial Review Act). In that case, they must give you written notice stating why your request was denied (s 33(5) Judicial Review Act).