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Reporting A Death To The Coroner

In the event of a death which has occurred in an unnatural or violent manner, in detention or in custody, or without particular cause, the coroner has a duty to make enquiries into the death.

The reporting process and what happens once a death has been reported to the coroner is listed below.
The Coroner

The coroner is usually a doctor or lawyer, but may be both. Appointed by local councils, coroners are independent judicial officers, but holding office under the Crown and reporting only to the Lord Chancellor.

With a duty to enquire into a death if the body of the deceased falls within their jurisdiction, or coronial districts, coroners must investigate circumstances where violent, unnatural or sudden deaths have occurred with no known cause. This includes deaths as a result of an accident.

In certain cases, the coroner's enquiries may involve holding an inquest. In the event of a death being referred to the coroner, it is not possible to register the death until the coroner's enquiries have been compiled and completed and a death certificate issued. Once this process has been completed, it must be provided to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and Deaths and Marriages.

The Coroner's Office

The coroner is supported by a deputy coroner and either will be available at all times to deal with incoming enquiries about postmortem examinations and inquests. Often serving police officers, the coroner's officers receive all reports of deaths and often make enquiries on behalf of the coroner.

Reporting Deaths to the Coroner

In the event of a death occurring in an unnatural or violent manner, in custody or in detention, or without an evident cause, the coroner has a duty of care to investigate into the death. The entire reporting process and what happens once you have reported a death to the coroner is listed in detail below.

The coroner will typically request that a post mortem examination is carried out, if there is any uncertainty over the cause of death. All deaths should be referred to the local coroner if there is any concern to suspect that the deceased has:

  • Died and the cause of death is unknown
  • Died an unnatural or violent death (including suicide and accidents)
  • Died while in detention or in custody
  • Died as a result of a medical error, etc (the list in not extensive)

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

To be able to complete the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (MCCD), the doctor has to have attended the patient within the 14 days leading up to the event of their death, or seen the body after the death. They must also be sufficiently familiar with the individual to be certain of the cause of death.

If the medical cause of death is clear but there is still some element of doubt or uncertainty, or the doctor attending the individual in his or her last illness is not available immediately to sign the MCCD, the matter can be resolved by a discussion directly with the coroner, or, in some circumstances, through the coroner's officer/s).


If satisfied that an inquest or post mortem examination in unnecessary, the coroner will issue Pink Form A, which allows the registration of death through the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages so that the deceased can then be buried or cremated. The MCCD will still be issued by the attending G.P or by the deceased's own G.P.

If for any reason there is any doubt in regards to the death not being unnatural, the coroner will issue a Pink Form B to the Registrar, meaning that the death can be registered and the body released for burial or cremation. If however, the coroner discovers that the death was unnatural, an inquest will be held, but this only happens in about 12% of cases referred to coroners.

Varying throughout England and Wales, there is a time interval between the death itself and the second inquest. It is not uncommon to wait up to four months. The initial inquest takes place at the hospital mortuary and is for identification purposes.

Funerals are very rarely delayed when inquests are ordered but each situation is individual and can vary- please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team here at Exmouth & District Funeral Services to discuss in more detail.

Numerous factors such as evidence gathering, workloads, or criminal matters can all influence the time interval and can all add to the trauma being suffered by the deceased's families or their representatives. Despite this, such delays are unavoidable and financial matters can be circumvented.

If the coroner believes that individuals are able to provide relevant information, they will be asked to submit a supporting statement. Witnesses may also be called to provide evidence in person or are required to submit written evidence which can be presented at an inquest. If needed, lawyers can also be involved.

Other Functions of the Coroner

In every instance that a body is due to be taken out of, or brought into, England or Wales, the coroner must also be notified immediately.


Pink Form A- NO postmortem followed by registration and burial and cremation;

Pink Form B- Postmortem examination prior to release by the coroner;
(post mortem; post-mortem, autopsy)

Available from Exmouth & District Funeral Services, there is a separate factsheet with in-depth explanations regarding documentation when the H.M Coroner is involved. Please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your individual requirements in more detail.

Coroners currently have a responsibility for all the treasure troves in their district. For anyone who acquires property as an object, and believes s/he has reasonable grounds that the object is in fact treasure, they must immediately notify the coroner with 14 days.


  At Exmouth & District 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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