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Reporting a Death to the Coroner
Summary
If a death occurs in a violent or unnatural manner, in custody or in detention, or without certain cause, the coroner has a duty to enquire into the death. The reporting process and what happen once you have reported a death to the coroner is listed herein.
The Coroner
The coroner is usually a lawyer or a doctor but may be both. Coroners are independent judicial officers appointed by local councils, but holding office under the Crown and currently reporting only to the Lord Chancellor.
Coroners have a duty to enquire into a death if the body of the deceased lies within their jurisdiction or, coronial district and the death was violent, unnatural or sudden with cause unknown. This includes deaths that follow an accident.

The coroner's enquiries may involve holding an inquest. Once a death has been referred to the coroner, it cannot be registered until the coroner's enquiries have been completed and a death certificate issued and provided to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and Marriages.

The Coroner's Office
The coroner is supported by a deputy coroner and either the coroner or the deputy will be available at all times to deal with enquiries about inquests and postmortem examinations. The coroner’s officers (often serving police officers), receive the reports of deaths and make enquiries on behalf of the coroner.
Reporting Deaths to the Coroner
If a death occurs in a violent or unnatural manner, in custody or in detention, or without certain cause, the coroner has a duty to enquire into the death. The reporting process and what happen once you have reported a death to the coroner is listed herein.
The coroner will usually request a post mortem examination if there is uncertainty over the cause of death.
Deaths should be referred to the local coroner if there is any reason to suspect that the deceased has:
  • Died a violent or unnatural death (including accident or suicide)
  • Died and the cause of death is unknown
  • Died while in custody or otherwise in detention
  • Died as a result of a medical mishap, etc. (the list is not extensive).

If you are unsure about whether or not to report a death, contact the coroner’s officer or office who will be able to advise you whether a formal report is appropriate.

In order to complete the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (MCCD), the doctor must have attended the patient within the 14 days prior to the death, or seen the body after death and be sufficiently familiar with the patient to be sure of the cause of death.

If the medical cause of death is reasonably clear but there is still some uncertainty, or the doctor who attended the patient in his last illness is not immediately available to sign the MCCD, the matter can often be resolved by a discussion with the coroner directly, (or, in some circumstances, through the coroner’s officer/s).

 
If satisfied that a post mortem examination or inquest is unnecessary, the coroner will issue Pink Form A, which allows the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to register the death so that the deceased can be cremated or buried. The MCCD will still be issued by the deceased’s G.P. or attending G.P..

If there is uncertainty over the cause of death, the coroner will usually request a postmortem examination.

If the postmortem reveals that the death was not unnatural, the coroner will issue Pink Form B to the Registrar, which means that the death can be registered and the body released for cremation or burial. However, if the coroner finds that the death was unnatural, an inquest will be held. This happens in about 12% of all cases referred to coroners.

There is a time interval between the death and the (2nd) Inquest which varies throughout England and Wales but it is not uncommon to wait four months. The (1st) inquest takes place at the hospital mortuary and is for identification purposes. Funerals are seldom delayed when inquests are ordered but each situation is different – please check with your chosen funeral director.
The time interval is due to numerous factors such as workload, evidence gathering or criminal matters and can add to the trauma being suffered by families or their representatives, unfortunately, it is unavoidable. Financial matters can be circumvented.

Individuals whom the coroner believes may be able to provide relevant information will be asked to submit a statement. Witnesses may be called to give evidence in person or required to submit written evidence to be presented at the inquest. Lawyers can be involved.

Other Functions of the Coroner
The coroner must also be notified in every case when a body is to be taken out of, or brought into, England or Wales.

Note

Pink Form A – NO postmortem followed by registration and cremation or burial;
Pink Form B – Postmortem examination prior to release by the coroner;
(post mortem;  aka post-mortem; aka autopsy)

There is a separate factsheet available from Shoobridge Funeral Services with in-depth explanations regarding documentation when H.M. Coroner is involved. Please ask.

Coroners also currently have responsibility for all the treasure troves in their district, and anyone who acquires property in an object, and believes he has reasonable grounds for believing that the object is treasure, must notify the coroner within 14 days.

   
Certificates involved with coroners »
 
  At Shoobridge Funeral Services, we realise that this is an unusual and difficult time for you. As such, your contact with us is a personal and professional priority. Our primary goal is to be available to you and perform the professional and caring service needed, in order to reduce the burden to you and your family.  
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Shoobridge Funeral Services - Honiton
Park House, Silver St
Honiton
Devon
EX14 1QJ
Honiton. 01404 41424
 
Shoobridge Funeral Services - Exeter
183 Pinhoe Road
Exeter
Devon
EX4 7HZ
Exeter. 01392 279927
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