e-book Inquests: Living With the Dead

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Please call the Registration service to find out is this service is available in your area. However, you will not receive the death certificates until after the inquest. Click the links below for more information about what the registrar will give you. Coroners decide who should give evidence as a witness, and witnesses are required by law to attend. Anyone who believes that they may have information that may help can offer to give evidence by informing the coroner. If anyone believes a particular witness should attend, they should inform the coroner.

Anyone with a legitimate interest is also allowed to question witnesses at an inquest, for example, relatives. The coroner must be made aware of anyone who believes they have a legitimate interest and the nature of their questions before the inquest.


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Sometimes a coroner uses a longer sentence describing the circumstances of the death, which is called a narrative verdict. The coroner may report the death to any appropriate person or authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive if action is needed to prevent more deaths in similar circumstances. At the close of the inquest the coroner forwards information to the registrar of births and deaths to allow the death to be registered and the family can then purchase death certificates from the registrar.

This can be done by post if the family live at some distance from the registration office. The Coroners' Courts Support Service: This is a charity that provides support to bereaved families during an inquest. Because it is a charity and most support is provided by volunteers the service is only provided in a limited number of courts.

Witnesses give accounts in inquest into Baby Pendo's death

You can find the list of courts where the service is provided by clicking here. In the other provinces and territories with a coroner system, namely British Columbia , Saskatchewan , Quebec , New Brunswick , Northwest Territories , Nunavut , and Yukon , coroners are not necessarily physicians but generally have legal, medical, or investigative backgrounds. The Coroner's Court is responsible to inquire into the causes and circumstances of some deaths. The Coroner is a judicial officer who has the power to:.

The Coroners Service is a network of Coroners situated across Ireland, usually covering areas based on Ireland's traditional counties. Any death due to unnatural causes will require an inquest to be held. Two coronial services operate in New Zealand. The older one deals only with deaths before midnight of 30 June that remain under investigation. The new system operates under the Coroners Act , which:. In Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Justice appoints Inquirers into Sudden Deaths under the Code of Criminal Procedure to carryout an inquest into the death of a sudden, unexpected and suspicious nature.

In the United Kingdom a coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed and paid for by the relevant local authority. The Ministry of Justice , which is headed by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has the responsibility for the coronial law and policy only, and no operational responsibility.

A different system applies in Scotland , which does not have a coroner service. He provides advice, guidance and training to coroners and aims to secure uniformity of practice throughout England and Wales. The post is currently part-time. He has also been appointed a deputy judge of the High Court, and as such he normally sits as a member of the bench when that court has occasion to hold a judicial review of an inquest. England and Wales are divided into coroner districts by the Lord Chancellor, each district consisting of the area or areas of one or more local authorities.

The relevant local authority, with the consent of the Chief Coroner and the Lord Chancellor, must appoint a Senior Coroner for the district. It must also appoint Area Coroners in effect deputies to the Senior Coroner and Assistant Coroners, to the number that the Lord Chancellor considers necessary in view of the physical character and population of the district. The cost of the coroner service for the district falls upon the local authority or authorities concerned, and thus ultimately upon the local inhabitants.

The majority of deaths are not investigated by the coroner. If the deceased has been under medical care, or has been seen by a doctor within 14 days of death, then the doctor can issue a death certificate. However if the deceased died without being seen by a doctor, or if they are unwilling to make a determination, the coroner will investigate the cause and manner of death.

When is an inquest needed?

The coroner will also investigate when a death is deemed violent or unnatural, where the cause is unknown, where a death is the result of poisoning or industrial injury, or if it occurred in police custody or prison. Any person aware of a dead body lying in the district of a coroner has a duty to report it to the coroner; failure to do so is an offence. This can include bodies brought into England or Wales. The coroner has a team of Coroner's Officers previously often ex-police officers, but increasingly from a nursing or other paramedical background who carry out the investigation on the coroner's behalf.

A coroner's investigation may involve a simple review of the circumstances, ordering a post-mortem examination, or they may decide that an inquest is appropriate. When a person dies in the custody of the legal authorities in police cells, or in prison , an inquest must be held. In England, inquests are usually heard without a jury unless the coroner wants one. However, a case in which a person has died under the control of central authority must have a jury, as a check on the possible abuse of governmental power.

Coroner's Inquests

The coroner's court is a court of law , and accordingly, the coroner may summon witnesses. Those found lying are guilty of perjury. Additional powers of the coroner may include the power of subpoena and attachment , the power of arrest , the power to administer oaths , and sequester juries of six during inquests.

Coroners also have a role in treasure trove cases. This role arose from the ancient duty of the coroner as a protector of the property of the Crown. It is now contained in the Treasure Act This jurisdiction is no longer exercised by local coroners, but by specialist "Coroners for Treasure" appointed by the Chief Coroner.

Inquests - Plymouth Live

Until a qualified medical practitioner could be appointed, but that is no longer possible. Any medical coroner still in office will either have been appointed before , or, exceptionally, will hold both medical and legal qualifications. Aside from the usual coroners, certain persons are ex officio coroners in limited circumstances—for example the Lord Chancellor has been historically allowed to certify the death of someone killed in rebellion. A senior judge is sometimes appointed as a deputy coroner to undertake a high-profile inquest, such as those into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and the victims of the London bombings.

The coroner's jurisdiction is limited to determining who the deceased was and how, when and where they came by their death. When the death is suspected to have been either sudden with unknown cause, violent, or unnatural, the coroner decides whether to hold a post-mortem examination and, if necessary, an inquest.


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The coroner's former power to name a suspect in the inquest verdict and commit them for trial has been abolished. More usually, a coroner's verdict is also relied upon in civil proceedings and insurance claims. The coroner commonly tells the jury which verdicts are lawfully available in a particular case.

Coroners, post-mortems and inquests

The most common verdicts include: Lawful killing includes lawful self-defence. There is no material difference between an accidental death verdict and one of misadventure. The verdicts of suicide and unlawful killing require proving beyond reasonable doubt. Other verdicts are arrived at on the balance of probabilities. A verdict of neglect requires that there was a need for relevant care such as nourishment, medical attention, shelter or warmth identified, and there was an opportunity to offer or provide that care that was not taken.

Neglect can be ruled an aggravating factor in other verdicts as well as a freestanding verdict. Save Extra with 1 offer. To get the free app, enter mobile phone number. See all free Kindle reading apps.

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