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The Role of the Coroner
If you have been referred to a Coroner and an inquest has been opened into your relative's death it can be a confusing time. Partner, Matthew Cox, is assistant coroner, North Manchester and so can advise and give guidance on this matter.
Coroners are judicial office holders. They are completely independent and are appointed directly by the Crown. They have qualifications and substantial experience as a lawyer, a medical doctor, or sometimes both.
Each Senior Coroner usually appoints one or more Assistant Coroners or Area Coroners. These serve either full or part-time, usually while continuing work as solicitors, barristers or doctors. They are qualified in the same way and have all the same powers as a Senior Coroner when it comes to dealing with deaths and inquests.
Coroners investigate all deaths where the cause is unknown, where there is reason to think the death may not be due to natural causes, or which need an inquiry for some other reason.
A Coroner will inquire into a death once they receive a report that a body is lying within their jurisdiction. Coroners have the power to have a body brought into the public mortuary and keep it there while they carry out investigations.
They will investigate each case in an appropriate way. It may be as simple as consulting with the doctor who last treated the person who has died, or a post mortem examination may be needed. In some cases, the Coroner may open an inquest, which is a judicial inquiry into the death.