A Coroner is an independent judicial officer. A doctor may refer a death to a coroner if any of the following circumstances are satisfied:
• the cause of death is unknown
• the death was unnatural
• the death was violent
• the death was sudden and unexplained
• the deceased was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
• a medical certificate is not available
• the deceased was not visited by the doctor who signed the medical certificate either 14 days before or after the death
• the death occurred during an operation or whilst the person was under an anaesthetic
• the medical certificate states that the death may have been caused by industrial poisoning or disease
The role of a coroner is to ascertain exactly how a death has occurred by ordering a post-mortem examination or holding an inquest. Once the coroner has determined the cause of death, a doctor will sign a medical certificate, which can then be taken to the Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages. If a post-mortem is not required, the coroner will also issue a certificate to the Registrar.
A post-mortem can be used to determine how a person died and can be conducted in either a mortuary and a hospital. The coroner’s request for a post-mortem cannot be objected to, but the coroner must state when and where the examination will occur. Following this, the coroner will release the body for burial or cremation.
If there has been no inquest, then the coroner will send a form known as the Pink Form – Form 100B to the Registrar stating what the cause of death was. The coroner may also send a Form Cremation 6 if a cremation is taking place.
If the coroner decides an inquest is necessary, the death cannot be registered until it has concluded. However, the coroner can issue an interim death certificate if proof is required that the person is deceased.
A Coroner’s Report can be notarised, but the Notary will need to see the original. The Notary may need to check the authenticity with the Coroner, however.