Referral to the Coroner

Referral to the Coroner

What happens if the death is referred to a Coroner?

If a death is referred to the coroner by a doctor, registrar or some other person, the coroner will decide the procedure to follow.


Not all deaths that are referred to the coroner will result in a post-mortem examination.

In some cases, the coroner will direct a doctor to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

The coroner will also send a form to the registrar to allow the registration to proceed. The form will state no further investigation is to be made and the death can be registered without post-mortem.

If the coroner directs a post-mortem is to be held, then the results of that post-mortem must be known before a death can be registered.

Once the coroner is satisfied after post-mortem examination that an Inquest is not required they will notify the registrar and the family of the deceased of the decision made.

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 –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 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 specific 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, if an inquest is to be held or the coroner is awaiting results that may take some time, the coroner may 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.

Nobody is required attend to register a death following an Inquest.

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