The number of 'unlawful killing' verdicts returned by coroners’ courts after work deaths is expected to rise, with a knock-on effect of higher legal costs and reputational damage for employers, says Peter James from BLM law firm.

In November 2020, the Supreme Court reached a judgment that has changed long-accepted coronial law and practice concerning the ‘standard of proof’ that is needed to reach a conclusion of suicide or unlawful killing in inquests.

The Supreme Court’s majority decision inR (on the application of Maughan) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire held that short form coronial conclusions of suicide and unlawful killing can now be decided on a civil standard.

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