The Role Of The Coroner

As a trusted family funeral directors, we regularly provide guidance and support to families who have are faced with a sudden and unexpected bereavement.

What is a Coroner?

A coroner is an independent judicial office holder, who investigates any sudden or unexplained deaths. Coroners work within a framework of law passed by Parliament .  A coroner is funded by a local authority but remain independent judicial office holders.

Some deaths have to be reported to a Coroner before:

  • The death can be registered at the registration office.
  • The document allowing the funeral to go ahead can be issued.



What happens when a death is refered to the coroner?

In some circumstances, early discussions will mean the doctor can sign a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death. They will tell the registrar of births and deaths of the decision. The coroner’s staff will then also tell you that you can register the death. In other situations, the coroner will issue a form which will tell the registrar that the death was from natural causes and that they can register the death.

The coroner may decide that an investigation is needed where they believe the death was not from natural causes, or that it was natural but the cause cannot be determined. They will ask a specialist doctor (usually a pathologist), to carry out a post-mortem to help find out the cause of death.

If the post-mortem confirms a natural cause death, there are no other concerns about the death and the person did not die in custody or any other form of state detention, the coroner will not need to investigate further.

If you have any knowledge or concerns about the how the death happened you should tell the coroner’s office as soon as possible. This information may be important for the medical investigation and tests that are carried out.

When can I register the death?

It is a legal requirement to tell the government that a person has died.

However, if the coroner decides to investigate the death, then the death cannot be registered straight away. The registrar of births and deaths must wait for the coroner to complete their investigation before the death can be registered.

You will be told when and how the death can or will be registered once the coroner has either discontinued their investigation or concluded their investigation and inquest.

When can I arrange the funeral?

Under the law, the coroner has temporary legal control of the person who has passed away while they are carrying out their investigation. This legal control is important because it means that no other person or organisation can interfere with the coroner’s independent investigation.

However, the coroner will release your loved one into your care (if you are the next of kin)  for burial or cremation as soon as possible.

If the coroner cannot cannot authorise the release within 28 days, they are required by law to tell you (if you are the next of kin) or the personal representative of the person who has passed away, the reasons for the delay. The coroner’s officer will let you know when the coroner has authorised the release (procedures may vary where there is a criminal investigation into the death).


We understand that following a sudden bereavement planning a funeral can seem a daunting task.
We would therefore advise that you contact our caring team as soon as you feel able, who will compassionately guide you through the next steps, whilst the coroner continues the investigation.


Cambridgeshire Coroners Service


Mr David Heming is His Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.


The Coroner’s Office can be contacted by email at or by telephone on 0345 045 1364.

Office opening hours are Monday to Thursday, 8am to 4pm, and Friday, 8am to 3.30pm.

Have questions? Get in touch with our team

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