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    Coroners are independent judicial officers established by law to enquire into those deaths reported to him or her.

    In any of the following circumstances the doctor may report the death to the coroner.

    • An accident or injury

    • An industrial disease

    • During a surgical operation

    • Before recovery from an anaesthetic

    • If the cause of death is unknown

    • The death was sudden and unexplained, for instance, a sudden infant death (cot death)

    You will be advised if the death has to be reported to the Coroner, in which case the death cannot be registered nor the funeral take place, without the Coroner's Authorisation. Where a death is reported to the Coroner, the Coroner's Office will contact the relatives.

    A Coroner can order a post-mortem examination without getting the relatives' permission. This examination will ascertain the cause of death. He may also wish to hold an investigation into circumstances leading up to a death (this is called an inquest). When an inquest is called, the Coroner's Office will contact the relatives. This should not cause undue distress as it is a legal formality.

    In such cases the Death Certificate will be issued direct to you from the Coroner's Office and the relatives must then go to the Registrar Office to register the death.

    When an inquest is to be held, the death cannot be registered until the conclusion of the inquest, but a certificate will normally be issued at the opening of the inquest to allow the funeral to take place.

    Contact the Hertfordshire Coroners Service


    Date of last review: 19 February 2015