C-68 - Coroners Act

Full text
chapter C-68
Coroners Act
CORONERSDecember 21 1983March 3 1986
Chapter C-68 is replaced by the Act respecting the determination of the causes and circumstances of death (chapter R-0.2). (1983, c. 41, s. 185).
1983, c. 41, s. 185.
DIVISION I
APPOINTMENTS
1. The Government may appoint one or more coroners for any judicial district or part of such district of Québec. A coroner shall only exercise his functions within the limits of the territory for which he is appointed.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 1.
2. One or more deputy coroners may also be appointed to each coroner.
A deputy coroner shall be competent to act instead of the coroner, when the coroner so requires; he shall act in his stead ex officio, when the coroner is unable to act or is dead. In each such case the deputy coroner shall have the same powers and shall be subject to the same obligations as the coroner whom he replaces.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 2.
3. Every coroner who is unable or expects to become unable to act may, by a writing over his signature, delegate his powers in any part of the territory for which he was appointed and for which no coroner or deputy coroner is competent to act, to a coroner of an adjoining territory.
The writing shall specify the investigations or inquests for which such powers are delegated, or indicate the period for which the delegation is valid.
A duplicate of the written delegation shall be transmitted forthwith to the clerk of the peace of the judicial district in which the coroner who delegates his duties is competent to act.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 3.
4. The Attorney General may specially authorize any person to investigate or hold an inquest into a death at any place in Québec. Every person so authorized shall have the same competence as the coroner of the place for which he was appointed and shall replace him; he shall then have the same powers and shall be subject to the same obligations as the coroner whom he replaces.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 4.
5. Every coroner or deputy coroner, and every person authorized to make an investigation or hold an inquest under section 4, shall, before assuming his functions, take the oaths of allegiance and of office according to the schedule to this act.
Such oaths shall be taken before a judge, a magistrate, a commissioner per dedimus potestatem, a prothonotary of the Superior Court, a clerk of the Provincial Court, a clerk of the Crown, a clerk of the peace or a notary; deputy coroners may also take such oaths before the coroner to whom they are appointed.
A certificate of the taking of such oaths shall be transmitted to the clerk of the peace of the judicial district for which the person who took them has been appointed.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 5.
6. Every coroner shall be ex officio a justice of the peace, without any property qualification being required; subject to section 174 of the Courts of Justice Act (chapter T-16), every coroner may exercise all the rights, powers and privileges granted to, and shall be subject to all the duties, obligations and responsibilities imposed by law upon, justices of the peace.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 6.
7. The permanent coroners shall be appointed in accordance with the Public Service Act (chapter F-3.1.1); the others shall be appointed by order in council and remunerated in fees, as the Government may determine.
A deputy coroner shall be appointed in accordance with the Public Service Act if the coroner for whom he acts is himself appointed in accordance with such act; in other cases, he shall be appointed by the Attorney General and remunerated in fees.
Coroners and deputy coroners who are remunerated in fees shall be so remunerated according to the tariff established for such purpose by the Government.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 7; 1978, c. 15, s. 140; 1980, c. 11, s. 49; 1983, c. 55, s. 161.
8. The Government may also appoint, to coroners to whom the Public Service Act (chapter F-3.1.1) applies, such other functionaries and employees as are necessary for the carrying out of this act.
Such functionaries and employees shall be appointed in accordance with the said Public Service Act.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 8; 1978, c. 15, s. 140; 1983, c. 55, s. 161.
DIVISION II
INFORMATION TO CORONER
9. Whosoever knows or learns that a person died suddenly or violently or from negligent or culpable conduct of some other person, or from causes unknown or of a suspicious nature or which do not appear to be natural, shall forthwith so inform the coroner of the district where the body was found.
Such obligation rests especially with the persons residing near the place where the body was found.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 9.
10. When a person dies while confined in a penitentiary, house of detention, or in an institution for the mentally ill, it shall be the duty of the warden, gaoler, superintendent or person in charge of such institution, to notify the coroner immediately, detailing the circumstances connected with such death.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 10; 1969, c. 21, s. 35.
DIVISION III
INVESTIGATIONS
11. The coroner must investigate the circumstances of the death of any person whose death does not appear to him to have resulted from natural causes or to have been purely accidental but which may have occurred from violence, or negligent or culpable conduct of a third person.
He shall also make such an investigation whenever the Attorney General requires him to do so.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 11.
12. The coroner may summon to appear before him and examine under oath any person who is, in his opinion, in a position to enlighten him regarding the causes and circumstances of the death; he may retain for such purpose, if necessary, the services of an interpreter who shall be entitled to the fees fixed by the tariff established for such purpose by the Government.
The coroner may also order an internal or external examination of the body, provided that he first draws up a declaration in writing, attesting under his oath of office that the examination is necessary to ascertain that death did not occur as a result of violence or negligent or culpable conduct of a third person.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 12.
13. When a coroner establishes by his investigations that death was due to natural causes or was purely accidental, he shall draw up a summary minute of the information obtained and deposit it forthwith in the records of the clerk of the peace of the district where the inquest was held.
He shall also make a return to the Attorney General, sending him forthwith a copy of his minute, a statement of his fees and disbursements, if any, attested by his oath and accompanied by the vouchers and the declaration required by section 12, should the occasion arise.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 13.
DIVISION IV
INQUESTS
§ 1.  — General provisions
14. The coroner must hold an inquest into the circumstances of a death whenever he has reason to believe, after his investigation, that the death occurred from violence, or negligent or culpable conduct of a third person.
He must also hold an inquest whenever the Attorney General requires him to do so.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 14.
15. No coroner, without an order from the Attorney General, shall hold or continue an inquest into the circumstances of a death, after a person has been accused of an indictable offence relating to such death.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 15.
16. If several persons have died in the same accident and the cause of death appears to be the same for all such persons, the coroner shall hold a single inquest respecting the death of only one of such persons.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 16.
17. The coroner must hold his inquest, as soon as possible, in the locality where the body was found unless, by reason of exceptional circumstances, he is justified in holding it in another locality.
He shall give notice of the place where and the day and hour when he will hold his inquest, to the Attorney General and to all persons whom he considers to be interested.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 17.
18. The coroner shall make the necessary arrangements for conveying the body to the place of the inquest if he deems it necessary and shall take possession of all things which may be useful for the purposes of such inquest.
For the purposes of the inquest, the coroner may exercise the powers provided in the second paragraph of section 12.
He may also request a chemical analysis, but in such case he shall give notice thereof to the Attorney General who shall indicate the expert to whom the analysis is to be entrusted.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 18.
§ 2.  — Procedure and evidence
19. Coroners’ inquests shall be public wherever they are held.
Nevertheless, if he deems it necessary in the interest of morals or public order, the coroner may order that the inquest be held in camera.
No person shall publish anything whatsoever revealing the name of a child less than eighteen years of age called to testify at a coroner’s inquest or any information permitting the identification of such child.
Every person who contravenes the preceding paragraph is guilty of contempt of court and is liable to the penalties provided for in article 51 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 19; 1977, c. 80, s. 148.
20. Before proceeding with the inquest, the coroner shall inform the persons present of the object of his inquest, the reasons which justify it and, if necessary, his reasons for holding it in a locality other than that where the body was found. Such information shall be recorded in writing and attested under his oath of office.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 20.
21. The coroner shall summon such witnesses as he deems it necessary to hear, by notifying them himself or by causing them to be notified in writing or orally; the persons so summoned shall obey his order, under the penalties provided respecting witnesses who do not obey regular summons before the Superior Court.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 21.
22. When the coroner is of the opinion that a person whose testimony he deems necessary will fail or refuse to be present at the inquest, he may order such person arrested, with or without a warrant, and brought before him within twenty-four hours after his arrest or, if that is impossible, within the shortest possible delay; the coroner may then, in order to ensure his presence at the inquest, require bail of such person or direct that such person be detained in a house of detention.
No person shall be so detained for more than eight days without being brought again before the coroner; the coroner’s decision to extend the detention until the end of the inquest may be revised by a judge of the Superior Court for the district in which the coroner rendered his decision.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 22; 1969, c. 21, s. 35.
23. The witnesses shall testify after having been sworn by the coroner and, if he so requires, out of each other’s presence. Any person able to testify may be compelled to do so under the penalties provided respecting witnesses who refuse to answer before the Superior Court.
A witness cannot refuse to answer for the reason that his reply might tend to incriminate him or to expose him to a proceeding of any kind; but his replies cannot be used against him in any subsequent criminal proceedings, except for perjury.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 23.
24. The persons whom the coroner deems interested or their counsel may put to the witnesses any questions pertinent for the purposes of the inquest.
The advocate representing the Attorney General at the inquest may examine and cross-examine the witnesses, and require the coroner to summon any person whose testimony appears to him to be useful.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 24.
25. The coroner may accept a medical report in lieu of the testimony of the physician who signed it, unless an interested person wishes to examine him and has sufficient reason to do so.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 25.
26. The depositions of the witnesses shall be taken down in writing, either word for word or in summary, and shall be signed by each of them.
Nevertheless, the coroner may have the depositions taken down by stenography or recorded in any other manner allowed before the courts of Québec.
Any interested person may ask that the depositions be so taken down or recorded, provided that he first deposits with the coroner an amount sufficient to pay the costs, and that the required personnel be available.
The stenographer or the person charged with recording the depositions shall, before acting, take oath before the coroner in accordance with the schedule.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 26.
27. The ordinary rules of evidence in criminal matters shall apply to coroners’ inquests.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 27.
28. The coroner may, if he deems it necessary, retain the services of a secretary or of an interpreter and swear in a sufficient number of constables to maintain peace and good order during the inquest; the persons whose services are so required shall be entitled to the fees provided in the tariff established for such purpose by the Government.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 28.
29. The coroner may suspend an inquest in order to view the premises or to ascertain any other fact that he considers useful.
He shall not adjourn an inquest unless it appears to him absolutely impossible to ascertain the truth immediately.
The Attorney General may require a coroner to resume an adjourned inquest or to hold another inquest.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 29.
§ 3.  — Returns
30. The coroner shall declare the inquest closed after hearing the witnesses; he shall draw up as soon as possible a written return containing his verdict, and transmit the same forthwith to the Attorney General.
The verdict shall indicate the name of the deceased, the date and place of death and the circumstances in which death occurred. In the case of a person whose identity is unknown, it shall give a complete description of the body and all the facts and circumstances that may assist in identifying the deceased later.
The coroner shall also state in his verdict if he is of opinion that a crime has been committed and, should the case so admit, mention fully the facts constituting such crime and if possible the name of the presumed criminal.
The coroner, in his report, may make any useful suggestions for the protection of society.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 30.
31. If, in his verdict, the coroner is of opinion that a person is criminally responsible for the death, he shall proceed in accordance with section 462 of the Criminal Code; if he issues a warrant of arrest he shall so advise the Attorney General as soon as possible and by the most expeditious means.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 31.
32. The coroner shall transmit to the Attorney General, as soon as possible after the close of the inquest:
(a)  a copy of the text of the information given under section 20,
(b)  a copy of the text of his written declaration stating that an internal or external examination of the body was necessary, if such was the case,
(c)  a copy of the text of the depositions of the witnesses,
(d)  the text of the return contemplated in section 30, and
(e)  a statement of his fees and disbursements, if there is occasion, attested by his oath and accompanied by vouchers.
He shall also deposit forthwith in the office of the clerk of the peace of the district where the inquest was held the originals of the documents mentioned in paragraphs a, b and c and a copy of the return contemplated in section 30.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 32.
DIVISION V
INTERMENT AND DISINTERMENT OF BODIES
33. The body of any person whose death is the object of investigation or inquest shall not be buried or cremated without the permission of the coroner.
Such permission shall be given forthwith if, after his investigation, the coroner has established that the death resulted from natural or accidental causes.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 33.
34. The coroner shall also permit the burial of a body without delay, even before the holding of the inquest which he intends to hold, when the body is no longer necessary for the investigation or inquest.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 34.
35. Any unclaimed body shall be buried at the expense of the municipality in which it was found, or at the expense of the county municipality if it was found in an unorganized territory, unless disposed of in the manner prescribed by the Public Health Protection Act (chapter P-35). Such municipality may recover the expenses it has incurred from the estate of the deceased.
Any body found upon the beach of, or in the river St. Lawrence, and not claimed shall be buried in such manner as the coroner indicates, at the expense of Québec.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 35; 1977, c. 47, s. 10.
36. The coroner may order the disinterment of any body when he has reason to believe that a crime has been committed and that an examination of the body is likely to furnish information to him but he must first obtain the authorization of the Attorney General and shall prepare a written declaration, under his oath of office, setting forth the reasons which justify him; such declaration must be included in his report to the clerk of the peace.
The expenses incurred for such disinterment and reinterment shall be borne by Québec.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 36.
37. The Attorney General may order the coroner to cause to be made an examination or a new examination, external or internal, of a body already buried, or any analysis of such body, and direct him to have the disinterment made.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 37.
DIVISION VI
SPECIAL DUTIES OF CORONERS
38. In the months of January, April, July and October of each year, or at such other time as may be fixed by the Attorney General, the coroner shall transmit to the Attorney General, in duplicate, a detailed statement of all investigations made and inquests held during the previous three months. Such statement must be accompanied by a certificate from the clerk of the peace for the district establishing that the documents in connection with inquests held and the minutes of all investigations made during the previous three months have been deposited in his office.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 39.
39. Before holding an inquest on the death of a person deceased as the result of an accident in a mine, quarry or other similar establishment, the coroner shall inform the director-general of mines and the regional inspector of the place where and the date and hour when such inquest will be held.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 40.
40. Subject to section 9 of the Deposit Act (chapter D-5), the coroner shall take charge of the effects found on the body of an unknown person which is the object of an investigation or an inquest, and he may return them to any person who shows to his satisfaction that he is entitled thereto.
If the effects so found have not been claimed within thirty days following the date when the investigation or inquest was completed, he must transmit a list thereof to the public curator who becomes exofficio provisional administrator of such effects.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 41; 1970, c. 17, s. 101; 1971, c. 81, s. 46.
DIVISION VII
MORGUES
41. The Attorney General may choose within the limits of each district one or more premises suitable for morgues to be placed at the disposal of the coroner for inquests, examinations and autopsies, and provide for the person in charge of the morgue a lump sum indemnity or fees fixed by the tariff established for such purpose by the Government.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 42.
42. If, owing to exceptional circumstances, the coroner deems it expedient to ensure the custody of a body or to hold an inquest elsewhere than at the morgue, the reasonable expenses resulting therefrom may be allowed for such purpose; but no compensation for rent shall be paid when the inquest is held in the residence of the deceased or in an immoveable which belonged to him.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 43.
DIVISION VIII
FORMS
43. The Attorney General shall establish such forms as he deems necessary or expedient to facilitate the carrying out of this Act.
He may also establish rules respecting the procedure to be followed for the holding of inquests and the preparation and auditing of coroners’ accounts.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 44.
DIVISION IX
PENALTIES AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
44. (1)  Every person who without reasonable grounds infringes section 9 or 10 shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary proceeding, to a fine of not more than $500 and to payment of the costs.
(2)  Every person shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary proceeding, to a fine of not more than $500 and to payment of the costs, or to imprisonment for not more than three months, or to both at the same time, who
(a)  infringes the first paragraph of section 33, or
(b)  hinders or attempts to hinder a coroner in the performance of his duties.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 45.
45. A coroner, deputy coroner or person appointed under section 4 shall not be prosecuted by reason of official acts done in good faith in the performance of his duties.
1966-67, c. 19, s. 46.
46. This Act shall operate notwithstanding the provisions of sections 2 and 7 to 15 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (Schedule B of the Canada Act, chapter 11 in the 1982 volume of the Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom).
1982, c. 21, s. 1.
(Section 5)

Oath of Allegiance

I, A. B., swear that I will be faithful and will bear true
allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (or to the then
reigning sovereign), her (or his) heirs and successors,
according to law. So help me God.

And I have signed.
A. B.

Sworn before me .............................................
at ......................... on the ...........................
day of .................................. 19.....


Oath of Office

I, A. B., swear that I will discharge the duties of my office
honestly, impartially and justly, and I will not accept any sum
of money or other consideration for what I have done or may do
in discharging the duties of my office, apart from my salary or
what will be allowed to me by law or by an order-in-council. So
help me God.

And I have signed.
A. B.

Sworn before me .............................................
at ......................... on the ...........................
day of ..................................... 19.....
Stenographer’s Oath

Canada,
Province of Québec,
Judicial District of

Before A. B., Coroner of .....................................

I, the undersigned, C. D., stenographer for the judicial
district of (name of the district) living (address of the
stenographer) in the city (or other locality, as the case may
be), in the said district, swear that I will take down
faithfully and correctly by stenography the depositions of the
witnesses who will be heard at the inquest held before A. B.,
coroner of ....................................................,
on the .......................... day of ......................,
one thousand nine hundred and .................................,
respecting the death of ..................................., and
that the copies or transcripts that I will furnish to the
coroner or to any other person will be true and exact copies of
my stenographic notes.

So help me God.

And I have signed.
C. D.

Sworn before me at ..........................................
on the .......................... day of ......................
19.....

A. B.,

Coroner of
----------------
1966-67, c. 19, Schedule.
REPEAL SCHEDULE

In accordance with section 17 of the Act respecting the consolidation of the statutes (chapter R-3), chapter 19 of the statutes of 1966/1967, in force on 31 December 1977, is repealed, except sections 47 and 50, effective from the coming into force of chapter C-68 of the Revised Statutes.