The High Court has granted an application for a judicial review of a coroner’s policy of applying the ‘cab rank’ rule for burials by refusing to prioritise them on religious grounds.
In judgment handed down this morning, the High Court granted a review into the policy of Mary Hassell, senior coroner for Inner North London.
Jewish funeral organiser Adath Yisroel Burial Society (AYBS) sought a judicial review of Hassell’s policy following a dispute with the family of an Orthodox Jewish man who died in October last year.
AYBS criticsed ‘unnecessary bureaucratic delays’ in releasing the body for burial as under Jewish [and Islamic] law, bodies must be buried on the day of death or as soon as possible afterwards.
However, Hassell said at the time that no death would be prioritised over any other because of the religion of the deceased or family.
In granting the application this morning Mr Justice Holman said: ‘This claim clearly raises issues of considerable importance to the Jewish and Muslim communities.’ Any final decision of the judicial review must apply to the whole of England and Wales, Holman added.
Hassell’s policies have come into question before. In 2014, she was involved in a dispute with the family of a Jewish women after going against religious protocol by ordering an invasive autopsy.
Hassell’s office was unavailable for comment. However, last year, she denied that her protocol was unlawful. ‘I believe the cab-rank rule is the fairest way,’ she wrote. ‘No family is less important to me than any other.’