Chief Commissioner of Police v Coroner Bryant

Centre Granted Leave to Appear as Amicus Curiae in Right to Life Test Case On 17 June, the Centre was granted leave to appear as amicus curiae in the Victorian Supreme Court in the matter of Chief Commissioner of Police v Bryant (in his capacity as Coroner).

The case concerned a coronial inquest into the death of a cyclist in December 2006 and, in particular, the Coroner's powers and the scope of matters into which the Coroner may inquire pursuant to s 19 of the Coroners Act 1985 (Vic).   The Chief Commissioner of Police sought an order in the Supreme Court prohibiting the Coroner from inquiring into certain systems, policies and practices.

The Centre made Submissions to assist the Court on three issues:

  • the application of the right to life under s 9 of the Charter, particularly the procedural obligation to ensure that, in cases of death (or near death or potential death) in circumstances potentially engaging the responsibility of the state, provision is made for an independent and impartial official investigation procedure that satisfies certain minimum standards;
  • the scope and operation of s 32 of the Charter, which requires that all statutory provisions be interpreted compatibly with human rights; and
  • the retrospective operation of the Charter.

Based on these considerations, the Centre submitted that the Coroner's powers should be read broadly.

The Chief Commissioner of Police discontinued the proceeding in late-June 2009.

The Centre was represented on a pro bono basis in this matter by Clayton Utz, together with Brian Walters SC and Sam Ure of Counsel.