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The Coroner

A coroner is a doctor or lawyer appointed by a local authority to investigate certain deaths. In Northern Ireland, the Lord Chancellor appoints a coroner.

A coroner is completely independent of the authority and has a separate office and staff. You will find the address of your local coroner’s office in the telephone directory.

A coroner can investigate a death if the body is in their district, even though the death took place somewhere else, for example, abroad.

A death must always be reported to a coroner in the following situations:-

  • the person’s doctor had not seen them in the 14 days before they died or immediately afterwards (28 days in Northern Ireland);
  • a doctor had not looked after, seen or treated the person during their last illness (in other words, death was sudden);
  • the cause of death is unknown or uncertain;
  • the death was violent or unnatural (for example, suicide, accident or drug or alcohol overdose);
  • the death was in any way suspicious;
  • the death took place during surgery or recovery from an anaesthetic;
  • the death took place in prison or police custody;
  • the death was caused by an industrial disease;

Anyone who is unhappy about the cause of a death can inform a coroner about it, but in most cases a death will be reported to a coroner by a doctor or the police.

In some cases the coroner will need to order a post-mortem, in which case the body will be taken to hospital for this to be carried out. You do not have the right to object to a post-mortem ordered by the coroner, but should tell the coroner if you have religious or other strong objections.

In cases where a death is reported to a coroner because the person had not seen a doctor in the previous 14 days (28 in Northern Ireland) the coroner will consult with the person’s GP and will usually not need to order a post-mortem.

A death cannot be registered until the coroner’s investigations are complete and a certificate has been issued allowing registration to take place. This means that the funeral will usually also be delayed. Where a post-mortem has taken place the coroner must give permission for cremation.

Inquests

An inquest is a legal inquiry into a death. It is held in public (sometimes with a jury) by a coroner in cases where the death was violent or unnatural or took place in prison or police custody or where the cause of death is still uncertain after a post-mortem or, in Northern Ireland, where a child has died in care. Only a coroner can order an inquest and relatives have no right to insist on one.

An inquest may take place into a death which took place abroad if the body has been returned to the UK.

Relatives may attend an inquest and ask questions of witnesses. They may ask a lawyer to represent them but there is no legal aid available for this. In Northern Ireland legal aid is not available for inquests but some pre-inquest advice may be available under the green form scheme. In England and Wales, an organisation called INQUEST may sometimes be able to arrange legal representation, either free or for a reduced charge. The address of INQUEST is:-

89-93 Fonthill Road
London N4 3JH
Tel: 020 7263 1111
Fax: 020 7561 0799
E-mail:  inquest@inquest.org.uk
Website: www.inquest.org.uk

The inquest should provide more information about how and why the death took place and whether anyone else was responsible. In some cases, a criminal prosecution may later take place.

Once the inquest has been held the death can be registered and the funeral can take place (although in some cases the coroner may allow the funeral to go ahead before the inquest is over)

About Melia Powell & Family Funeral Directors

We offer affordable excellence. That means we will really listen to your needs, advise and guide you, and provide you with the very best funeral care you need at a family affordable price.

We are a Christian family yet celebrate diversity and are very experienced at celebrating the life of someone irrespective of any or no religious beliefs.

Finally, whatever service or style of funeral is right for you, we guarante to make it perfect for you on the day. Nothing is too much trouble and we will carry you through all your difficult times.

Testimonials & Reviews

(see all of our latest testimonials here)

Dear Brian,

Just a quick email to congratulate you and your team, for what I perceived to be a thoroughly professional and well executed funeral yesterday - it was exceptionally well organised, there was real care and commitment evident, and you were all a pleasure to work with!

Many thanks and well done... You are all welcome back anytime.

Yours

Garry H

Revd Garry AF Hinchcliffe
Team Rector of Knaresborough & AsstDDO

Our Offices

Head Office

Melia House, Bradford Road
Sandbeds, Keighley, BD20 5LY
Telephone 01274 567110

Keighley Office

111-115 Cavendish Street
Keighley (town centre), BD21 3DG
Telephone 01535 280402

Bradford Office

25-27 Westgate,
Bradford, BD1 2QL
Telephone 01274 567110

Crematoria We Serve

Yorkshire & Lancashire

* A surcharge may apply since these councils charge a higher fee