Tutor Q&A – Louise Pinder, Associate Lecturer

On which programmes and modules do you teach?

"I teach the Coroners Court module, which is part of a number of undergraduate programmes."

What is your professional background and experience?

"I am currently the HM Assistant Coroner in Derby. I'm also Vice President of the East Midlands Coroners Society.

"Earlier in my career, I worked in London for a large international law firm and then returned to Derby to become a defence advocate working in the criminal courts in both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I later left private practice and was employed by a small public company to undertake a variety of corporate law 'in house'."

Tell us a bit more about your role as Assistant Coroner

"I sat for the first time as a coroner in November 2005. I have conducted thousands of investigations and inquests to date involving all manner of sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths including:

  • accidental deaths (falls and road traffic collisions)
  • industrial disease
  • suicide
  • hospital deaths
  • drug and alcohol related deaths
  • deaths in police and prison custody, and
  • mental health legislation detainees.

"I work alongside the Senior Coroner, Dr Robert Hunter, together with two other Assistant Coroners. Our jurisdiction is geographical and covers the County of Derbyshire. We have two coroners courts and offices: one in Derby, the other in Chesterfield. I am an independent judicial officer, responsible to the Crown.   

"Most people will rarely encounter coroners, at times of great stress and upset, often when they have suffered a sudden and unexpected bereavement. The office of Coroner within the English legal system is virtually unique and often misunderstood. Coronial law is increasingly complex and the amendments to both law and practice over the last few years is nothing short of staggering in comparison to the rate of change over the previous 800 years. Coroners have substantial discretion afforded them in their enquiries and there are as many (correct) ways of approaching an inquest as there are coroners!"

What key knowledge and information do you try to pass on to students?

"I take students through both the law and the process, incorporating my experiences as a coroner. We consider together the coronial process from the perspective of the various stakeholders involved: the family, the police, hospitals, GPs and pathologists. Enhanced Inquests are also considered, looking at both domestic and european law and its impact on the scope of our enquiries.  

"I enjoy encouraging the students to become involved in case study investigations, where they must identify the relevant issues, apply the relevant law and consider the likely conclusions. We hold a mock inquest and arrangements are made for students to attend the local Coroners Court and mortuary.

"I am am excited about being part of this rapidly expanding Law School which affords the students, through modules including the one that I deliver, an insight into real-world legal practice. The lecturers and students alike are enthusiastic and dedicated."

Associate law lecturer Louise Pinder, poses at a whiteboard "I take students through both the law and the process, incorporating my experiences as a coroner...The lecturers and students alike are enthusiastic and dedicated."

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