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Coroners, post-mortems and inquests

The coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating deaths in particular situations and can also arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body, if necessary.

An inquest is a legal inquiry into the causes and circumstances of a death.

Which deaths need to be reported to the coroner?

A small number of deaths have to be reported to the coroner before they can be registered and before the document allowing the funeral to go ahead can be issued. 

If death occurs in any of the following circumstances, the doctor may report it to the coroner:

  • after an accident or injury
  • following an industrial disease
  • during a surgical operation or before recovery from an anaesthetic
  • if the cause of death is unknown
  • if the death was violent or unnatural - for example, suicide, accident or drug or alcohol overdose
  • if the death was sudden and unexplained - for instance, a sudden infant death (cot death)

In addition to this, if the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after he or she died, or during the 14 days before the death, the death must be reported to the coroner.

Anyone who is concerned about the cause of a death can inform a coroner about it, but in most cases a death will be reported to the coroner by a doctor or the police.

Once a death has been reported to the coroner, the registrar cannot go ahead with the registration until the coroner has decided whether any further investigation into the death is necessary. In the vast majority of cases, no further investigation is necessary, and the registration can be completed straightaway.

Where an investigation is required this is called an inquest. 

Coroners offices in Derbyshire


Derby and South Derbyshire 

HM Coroner
St Katherine's House
St Mary's Wharf
Mansfield Road

Tel: 01332 343225

High Peak, Chesterfield and North Derbyshire (The Hundred of Scarsdale) 

HM Coroner
Coroners Court
5-6 Royal Court
Basil Close
S41 7SL

Tel: 01246 201391