What Happens If The Death Is Referred To A Coroner?
If a death is reported to the coroner which does not need to be the subject of an inquest (when death is a result of natural disease or illness), a certificate giving the cause of death will be sent to the registrar on completion of the coroner's enquiries. You can then go ahead and register the death.
In a small number of cases – where the cause of death is unclear, sudden or suspicious – the doctor or hospital or registrar will report the death to the coroner. In this case registration of the death will be delayed as an inquest may be held.
It is the duty of coroners to investigate deaths that are reported to them and which:
- appear to be due to violence or neglect
- are unnatural
- are of sudden and of unknown cause
- occur in legal custody
The coroner will preserve confidentiality as far as possible but you should remember that the system is based on public court hearings. If you request it, the coroner will explain the reasons for the procedures adopted in particular cases as long as the coroner is satisfied that the person has a proper interest and a right to know. An inquest is not a trial. It is an enquiry to establish who the deceased was and how, when and where they died. After the death the coroner will issue an interim death certificate to enable the estate to be dealt with. On conclusion of the inquest, the next of kin will be provided with an explanation about how, where and when a copy of the death certificate can be obtained.