Coroners operate within a legal framework and have a duty to investigate all sudden, unexpected, violent or unnatural deaths and deaths that occur in legal custody.
The Coroner investigates deaths in order to establish who, how and when a person has died. It may be necessary for a post mortem examination to be carried out.
Certain deaths require an inquest, a determination and a conclusion by the Coroner.
The registrar will report the following deaths to the Coroner if not already reported to by someone else:
If the coroner’s investigation or a post mortem reveal that the death was due to natural causes and that an inquest is not needed, the coroner will release the body and you can register the death. The funeral can then take place.
If an inquest is needed a death cannot be registered until the inquest has been completed, but the coroner will usually issue a certificate that will allow the funeral to take place.
A registrar cannot register the death or issue a death certificate until the body is released by the coroner.
A post mortem is a medical examination carried out by a pathologist at the coroner’s request. The purpose is to establish the cause of death. The consent of the next of kin is not required for a coroner’s post mortem. Copies of a post mortem report will normally be available to the next of kin and to certain other properly interested persons. A fee may be payable. Please contact your local coroner's office.
An inquest is an inquiry into:
An inquest is not a trial and it is not the coroner’s job to deal with questions of civil or criminal liability. Possible conclusions include: natural causes, accident, suicide, unlawful or lawful killing, industrial disease, and open verdicts where there is insufficient evidence for any other verdict. Narrative verdicts can also be made.
Medical records remain confidential after death. However, coroners are entitled to request medical information that is relevant and necessary to their enquiries.
If you wish to take the body abroad, you must give written notice to the coroner. The coroner will advise when the body can be released to be taken abroad.
If you wish to bring the body back to England or Wales, the coroner may need to be involved. In certain circumstances, an inquest may be necessary. You can ask for advice from your local coroner's office.
Coroners also deal with finds that may be classed as treasure.
Coroner's court 2 Faraday Court
Telephone: 01772 536536
HM Senior Coroner
Dr James R H Adeley
HM Area Coroners
Mr Richard Taylor
Mr James Newman