The role of the coroner

If the coroner is investigating a death, the deceased person is completely in the coroner’s control until an order for burial or cremation is issued.

When is a death reported to the coroner?

Some of the reasons that the coroner would be involved in investigating the death are:

  • Cause of death is unknown.
  • Death was violent or unnatural, or sudden and unexplained.
  • Deceased was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness.
  • Medical certificate isn’t available, or the doctor cannot sign it because they were not in medical attendance during the last illness.
  • Death occurred during an operation or before the person came out of anaesthetic.
  • Death may have been caused by an industrial disease.
  • Death occurred in a prison, police custody, a psychiatric hospital, or in temporary care.

If the death is reported to the coroner, there may be a delay before it can be registered. The coroner will also decide if a post-mortem should take place, or if there should be an inquest.

An inquest is a formal inquiry into an unexplained, sudden or violent death. If the Coroner decides to hold an inquest into the death, a ‘Coroner’s Interim Certificate of Death’ will be issued to allow the deceased’s family or representative to organise the funeral and deal with the deceased’s estate (probate). The death cannot be registered until after the inquest, and the Coroner will forward paperwork to the registrar with all the details for the register entry. After the inquest has been registered, you will be able to obtain death certificates from the registrar.

Contact details

Coroners Court
25 Bagleys Lane
Hammersmith
Greater London
SW6 2QA

Telephone: 020 8753 6800

Updated: 31 January 2014