A coroner is an independent judicial officer who has been appointed to investigate a death. They normally have a legal background and are also familiar with medical jargon.
What a coroner does
Coroners investigate all deaths where the cause is unknown, is not thought to be due to natural circumstances or needs an inquiry for another reason.
The coroner may conduct a simple inspection by talking to medical staff who treated the person who died. This helps them decide the cause of death. Sometimes this will require a post-mortem to take place. If the death is found to be from natural causes there will not be an inquest. The coroner will send a certificate to the registrar stating the cause of death.
Once the registrar has received the certificate they'll contact you to make an appointment to register the death. The timescales for this can vary, so please be patient as the registrar will contact you as soon as they can.
Where a death has not been as a result of natural causes, the coroner will need to hold a full inquest into the death. This is a public court hearing held by the coroner to establish who has died, when and how the death occurred. The inquest will be held as soon as possible after the death.
The coroner will tell you if an inquest is going to be held into the death of a family member if you are their next of kin. They’ll also provide you with the name of a family liaison officer from either the police or Coroner’s Office. They will be your point of contact for advice.
Coroners have powers to move a body into a public mortuary whilst a death is being looked into. A post-mortem will usually be carried out if there is an inquest into a death.
If an inquest has to be adjourned because further information is required, the coroner can issue a certificate for a funeral to take place before the inquest is reopened.
Following the inquest
The coroner, or jury where there is one present, will come to a conclusion at the end of the inquest. These findings will allow the cause of death to be registered.
Challenging a decision
You can challenge a coroner’s or an inquest decision within three months of it being made. You should seek legal advice if you are planning to do this.
Contact the coroner
You can request copies of reports of any documents relevant to a coroner’s investigation into a death.
Barnsley Corner's Office (Medico Legal Centre)
You can contact the coroner by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0114) 273 8721.
Address: South Yorkshire (west), Medico-Legal Centre, Watery Street, Sheffield, S3 7ES.