Coroner’s duties

Her Majesty’s Coroner is responsible for investigating any deaths which occur suddenly, or which cannot, for whatever reason, be certified by a doctor. Often the Coroner becomes involved in deaths which seem natural, because it is a legal requirement that a doctor certifying a death must have seen the patient alive within the last fourteen days.

Once the Coroner has control of the deceased person, only he has the power to release the body for the funeral. The family in this case will have maximum contact with the Coroner’s Officer who is usually a serving member of the police force. Funeral directors also deal directly with the Coroner’s Officer, and we can usually advise of any likely delay in arranging the funeral.

The Coroner will often order a Post Mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Usually this causes no delay whatsoever, and he sends his report to the Registrar so that the death can be registered in the normal way by a member of the family or an executor.

If an inquest is necessary, this will usually be opened and adjourned to allow the funeral to take place. The Coroner’s Officer will take the details required for registration, and will act as the informant to the registrar. The Coroner can issue an interim certificate of the fact of death, if necessary, for legal purposes. The inquest will be re-opened later, and closed only when a verdict has been recorded.