Forms And Certificates

Coroners (or procurators fiscal in Scotland) are appointed by the Crown. They are not called upon every time someone dies but will be required whenever any of the following applies:

  • The cause of death in unknown
  • The cause of death is unnatural or suspicious
  • The death occurred during an operation, or before recovery from anaesthetic
  • The death is due to industrial poisoning or disease
  • Where there is no doctor who can issue a medical certificate
  • Where the person who has died was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate, nor within 14 days before the death

What is the coroner's role?

The coroner needs to be satisfied that the medical certificate can be issued/was issued without the need for further investigation. In most instances this is the case, but where the coroner feels more information is required he/she can order a post-mortem examination.

Once the coroner is satisfied that the death is due to natural causes the deceased's body will be released for the funeral to take place. The forms the coroner will use vary: see Forms and certificates when the coroner is involved. Until this point you cannot usually register the death.

Rarely, if the coroner cannot confirm the death was a result of natural causes, an inquest will be ordered.

At the inquest as next of kin you have the right to be told the date, time and location of the inquest. You also have the right to question witnesses at the inquest. Whilst you can do this yourself you may prefer to use a solicitor.

Forms and certificates when a coroner is not involved

A medical certificate of cause of death will be given to you by the doctor. The certificate gives the official cause of death and will use the medical terminology rather than the common name for the condition (for example, a heart attack may be termed a “myocardial infarction”).

If you do not understand the description you should ask for an explanation from a doctor or nurse.A formal notice of death will be attached to the medical certificate, but this will be removed before the certificate is handed to you.

When you look at the certificate, don’t worry if there are errors in spellings or dates of birth. You will be able to give correct information about personal details to the registrar who will use the details you give, not those on the form.

What should I do next?

You should take the form to the registrar of births, marriages and deaths by making an appointment to register the death

Forms and certificates when a coroner is involved

There are a number of forms and certificates that may be used by the coroner. These vary depending on the results of the coroner’s investigations and are as follows:
  • Form: 'A' Certificate
  • When:A The coroner decides no further investigation is necessary. He will give the doctor permission to issue the medical certificate but may also issue an ‘A’ Certificate.
  • Who receives it: Usually sent straight to the registrar. Could also be given to you to give to the registrar.
  • Form: Form 100 (Pink Form B)
  • When: The coroner ordered a post mortem, but did not order an inquest.
  • Who receives it: May be sent straight to the registrar (instead of the medical certificate usually sent by a doctor). Could also be given to you to give to the registrar.
  • Form: Form 101 Order for Burial.
  • When: There is an inquest but the deceased can now be buried.
  • Who receives it: Will usually be collected from the coroner by the funeral director.
  • Form: Cremation Form 6 (Certificate of coroner)
  • When: There is a post mortem or inquest and the person who has died is going to be cremated.
  • Who receives it: Will usually be collected from the coroner by the funeral director.

Post mortems

Post mortem examinations (or autopsies) will be carried out on behalf of the coroner by a pathologistThey will usually be carried out in large hospitals or public mortuaries so, depending on the place of death, the deceased may need to be moved in order for the post mortem to take place.

Do I need to give my consent to a post mortem?

Whilst it is possible for the deceased to have consented to a post mortem (see Post mortem examinations ), if the coroner orders it no consent is needed. If you have a strong objection to the post-mortem examination on grounds of faith or religion you should inform the coroner's office.

The coroner will inform you of the need for the post-mortem unless notifying you would cause undue delay.

The examination

The autopsy is a detailed examination both externally and internally. Samples of organs and tissue (and occasionally whole organs) may be taken for further assessment, often under microscope.

What are my rights?

As next of kin you have the right to:

  • Be told of the need for, and the date, time and location of, a post mortem examination (unless it is not practicable to do so)
  • Be told if any organ is required for further examination
  • Ask the coroner for reasonable access to see the body
  • Ask the coroner for your own, separate autopsy if you wish. This would be at your own expense.
  • Ask for a copy of the post-mortem report. Be aware that this will be at your own expense and may take several months to be made available. The report will usually be written in technical, medical language so you may need help in understanding its contents.
Return to top of page