There are several reasons why the coroner may need to make enquiries into a death. For example, if the doctor has not been attending (a sudden death), if the person has recently had an operation, been admitted into hospital within 34 hours, or has fallen and fractured a bone within the past 6 months, apart from deaths caused by accident or other unnatural reasons including industrial diseases. Very few cases referred to the coroner involve a formal inquest. The coroner has certain duties to perform and has unlimited powers, which are to protect the public and he is as helpful as possible to those who are bereaved.
The coroner will instruct a pathologist to make an examination. He will require certain statements and may also require a formal identification. When the results of these enquiries are available, he then decides if an inquest is necessary. If the enquiries are closed he will send notice (pink form 100) to the registrar, either by post or our own staff. The registration may then proceed.
IF THE FUNERAL IS TO BE CREMATED,
then the registration can wait until after service as the coroner will give our office a form (cert. E) which replaces the normal medical and registrars certificates.
IF THE FUNERAL IS TO BE INTERMENT,
then the registration must take place before the funeral. The registrar will issue the green certificate, which is required by the cemetery before the interment. Registration cannot however cannot take place before the registrar has the pink form from the coroner.
Should the coroner decide to hold an inquest, the coroner will issue a certificate (CERTIFICATE ‘E’ FOR CREMATION OR AN ‘ORDER FOR BURIAL’ FOR INTERMENT) for the funeral to proceed as soon as he is satisfied that the deceased can be released from his care. While the funeral can proceed, registration must wait until the close of a formal inquest, and the certificates for insurance, probate etc. will not be available until that time.
Coroner’s Enquiries do not normally create a long delay in the funeral arrangements. Due to the need to register before interment, a burial may be delayed a day longer than cremation. If the cause of death is not clear, additional tests may be required which can cause a few days delay. The coroner does, however, have unlimited powers and in extreme circumstances involving suspected murder, the delay can be for weeks or even months. Such delays are extremely rare.
Referrals to the coroner are usually made by a doctor or the police. However, technically, anyone can ask the coroner to commence enquiries and in certain circumstances, a referral may be made by a registrar of crematorium referee if they are not satisfied with the information supplied. An example of such a referral could be reference to certain forms of cancer, which may be caused by industrial illness. Again, we emphasise that such events are extremely rare and where funeral arrangements have been made in consultation with the coroner, the coroner and his staff would do everything possible to allow these arrangements to stand.