Coroners Procedure

Coroner’s Procedure

The coroner's job is to determining who the deceased was and how, when and where they came by their death. When the death is suspected to have been either sudden with unknown cause, violent, or unnatural, the coroner decides whether to hold a post-mortem examination and, if necessary, an inquest. We understand that the Coroners procedure can be very distressing for families and we are here to offer support and advice throughout the process. The following information is provided to help you better understand the procedure, what it involves and why.

When is a Death Referred to the Coroner

There are several circumstances that may lead to a death being reported to the coroner. This is a legal requirement and is usually fulfilled by either the deceased’s doctor, hospital staff or police.
  • The cause of death is unknown
  • The death was violent or unnatural
  • The death was sudden and unexplained
  • The person who died was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
  • A medical certificate isn’t available
  • The person who died wasn’t seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before death or after they died
  • A death occurred during an operation or before the person came out of anaesthetic
    The medical certificate suggests the death may have been caused by an industrial disease or industrial poisoning
  • The deceased was subject to a Depravation of Liberties Order
This is a legal requirement and is usually fulfilled by either the deceased’s doctor, hospital staff or police. Doctors may be forced to report a death to the Coroner even if they know the cause of death, in these cases it is common for the Coroner to give the doctor permission to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and no further action is required.

Post-Mortem

A post-mortem is an examination of the deceased to determine a cause of death. Post-mortems for deaths in hospital are usually carried out in the same hospital, however deaths ‘in the community’ usually require the funeral director to take the deceased to the Coroner’s mortuary in the area where the death occurred. The three Coroner’s mortuaries closest to us are Leeds General Infirmary, Pinderfields General Hospital & Bradford Public & Forensic Mortuary. If the Coroner requests a post-mortem, there is nothing the family can do to prevent it from taking place. Once the Coroner’s examination is complete the deceased will be released into the care of the funeral director. If no inquest is needed the Coroner sends a form (pink form – Form 100B) to the registrar allowing the family to register the death.

Inquest

The Coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown, or if the person: possibly died a violent or unnatural death. The Coroner will usually open and adjourn the inquest which allows the funeral to take place. The death can’t be registered until after the inquest, but the coroner can give you an interim death certificate to prove the person is dead. You can use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate. When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.

How Long Before the Funeral Can Take Place

Depending on the decision the Coroner makes, it can be quite hard to judge how long proceedings will take. In the event of the coroner giving the doctor permission to issue the medical certificate it may only be a few days delay, however if a post mortem and inquest is required it can delay the funeral by up to three weeks at busy periods.