Unlawful Killing at Inquests: Clarity or Confusion?

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This Article examines the standard of proof for unlawful killing in coronial proceedings. Historically, the criminal standard of proof governed inquest findings of unlawful killing. In R (Maughan) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire, the Supreme Court resolved the important question of whether the criminal or civil standard governed inquest conclusions of unlawful killing. The court concluded that the correct standard of proof for all conclusions in coronial proceedings is the balance of probabilities. This Article argues that whilst Maughan has provided welcome clarity, unanswered questions remain concerning the implementation of this fundamental change, particularly as to the correct management of concurrent criminal and inquisitorial proceedings. Paradoxically, Maughan may produce heightened focus on the adversarial features of the coronial process and, relatedly, increasing pressure to implement more broadly accessible public funding arrangements.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalMedico-Legal Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted - 13 Apr 2022


  • unlawful killing
  • standard of proof
  • inquests
  • coroners law
  • coronial jurisdiction


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