If A Death Is Referred To The Coroner

What happens if the death is referred to the Coroner

If a death is reported to the Coroner (this does not need to be the subject of an inquest, for example it could be when the death is a result of natural disease or illness) a certificate giving the cause of death will be sent to the Registrar of Deaths when the Coroner's enquiries are complete. You can then go ahead and register the death.

In a small number of cases, where the cause of death is unclear, sudden or suspicious, the doctor or hospital or Registrar or the Police, will report the death to the Coroner once they are satisfied it is not a criminal matter. In this case the registration of the death will be delayed until the inquest has been held.


It is the duty of the Coroner to investigate any death reported to them which:

  • Appear to be due to violence or an accident.
  • Are unnatural.
  • Are of sudden and unknown cause.
  • Occurs in legal custody.
  • Was due to a Deprivation of Liberty Order (DOLS).

An inquest is not a trial. It is an enquiry to establish who the deceased was and how, when and where they died.

The Coroner will preserve confidentiality as far as possible. You should, however, be aware that the system is based on public court hearings. If you request, the Coroner will explain the reasons for the procedures adopted in particular cases as long as the Coroner is satisfied that you have a proper interest and a right to know. 

After the death the Coroner will issue an interim Death Certificate to enable the Estate to be dealt with. When the inquest is finished, the Coroner’s Officers will provide the next of kin with an explanation about how, where and when a copy of the Death Certificate can be obtained.

Here are the details if you need to contact the Coroner’s Service in Bournemouth.