Role of Coroner & Inquests

Dealing with the Coroner

If your loved one dies under suspicious circumstances, or dies unexpectedly when they are alone, the local coroner will get involved. They must prove to the legal system’s satisfaction that the death was natural. The coroner is always an official medical examiner appointed by the local authorities. Their decision is final.
If your loved one dies in hospice care, in a hospital, or from a known terminal disease, there may be no need for a coroner’s report. Medical examiners and the police will decide if the circumstances are suspicious.

The police will report your loved one’s death to the coroner immediately if they think there is a question of foul play, no matter how small. The coroner will receive the body from the hospital or morgue. They will perform a post mortem examination to look for any evidence of how your loved one died.
If the coroner is satisfied that your loved one died from natural circumstances, they will release a coroner’s report. This allows you to get the final death certificate. You are free to repatriate your loved one’s body or to choose a burial abroad.

If the coroner does not believe the death was a natural one, they may hold an inquest. There may be a police case to find out what happened but this is separate from the coroner’s own inquest. It can take a long time to process the inquest paperwork. Although the coroner will try to release the body as soon as they can, a police investigation or an inquest can delay the process.


What is a Coroner Inquest?

If the coroner thinks your loved one’s death was suspicious, they will hold an inquest. This formal procedure allows them to speak to witnesses and find out what happened to the victim. The coroner will contact those they wish to show up to the inquest. They may also request a jury under certain circumstances. For example, if your loved one died unsupervised during a jail term.

You may attend the inquest on the day of the formal questioning. The coroner asks the questions. Once they are satisfied that they have all the information about the death they need, they will release the final death certificate alongside a full report on the medical circumstances which caused their death. If you wish a copy of the notes of the inquest, you can contact the coroner. They may charge you for this.

Once the inquest is finished, you are free to transport the body home. It is likely you will receive the go-ahead to repatriate the deceased before the conclusion of the trial. In this case, the coroner will issue an interim death certificate. Either way, you will have a resolution on your loved one’s death and can begin the process of burial and grieving.

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