Exhumation and judicial review in Northern Ireland: McGuigan

In McGuigan, Re Application for Judicial Review [2022] NIQB 38, Mrs McGuigan’s husband had been murdered in her presence on 13 August 2015 [4] and she wanted his remains to be exhumed and reinterred in the same grave as their daughter [2].

Where the exclusive rights to burial have been purchased, a grave cannot be opened without the owner’s permission [5]; and Mr McGuigan’s mother, the owner of the exclusive rights of burial in the plot in which he was buried, refused her consent [2]. She had previously refused her terminally-ill granddaughter’s request to be buried with her father [6]. The Department for Communities refused to authorise the exhumation, citing its Revised policy guidance on exhumations, and Mrs McGuigan challenged that policy.

At a preliminary hearing, it was argued for Mrs McGuigan that refusing to consent to the exhumation of her husband was in breach of her rights under Article 8 ECHR (respect for private and family life. Continue reading