The Role of The Coroner

When people think of the role Coroner, they often think of suspicious, violent or otherwise unnatural deaths. While the Coroner would certainly become involved in those circumstances, there are also many other situations which will lead to the Coroner’s involvement.

Why would the Coroner be involved?

If the person who has died had not seen their doctor during their final illness, or if the doctor who certified the person’s death had not seen them within 14 days before they died, their death will have to be reported to the coroner. Similarly, if the cause of death appears to be unknown the coroner will become involved.

Deaths which are or may have been due to an industrial disease (such as mesothelioma which is related to having worked with asbestos) or due to poisoning (including food poisoning or alcoholism) will also be reported, as will any cases in which the person who has died had fractured a major bone in their body during the year preceding their death, or if they died during an operation or before they had recovered from the anaesthetic.

Once the Coroner is Involved

If the Coroner becomes involved, the body of the person who died passes into the coroner’s control until the coroner releases the body for burial or cremation. Once a death has been reported to the Coroner, they will have a consultation with the deceased’s GP to establish whether they are satisfied that the death was due to natural causes. If the Coroner is so satisfied, their involvement will cease and they will send the necessary documentation to the Registrar to enable the body to be released and the funeral to take place.

If the Coroner forms the view that further investigation is necessary, they will open an inquest into the probable cause of death. In this situation the Coroner will also order that a post mortem take place, and can do so without the authorisation of the next of kin. This does not necessarily mean that the funeral will be delayed, but please speak to us for specific advice relating to your particular circumstances. In most cases the coroner will release the body of the person who has died for burial or cremation before the inquest takes place, but in some circumstances there may be a longer delay.  Should this occur we will liaise with the coroner’s office and keep you informed.

Once the coroner is ready to release the body, they will send the cause of death certificate directly to the registrar.  They will inform you when they have done so and at this point it is possible to register the death as stated on the registering a death page.