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Sudden Death and the Coroner

Booklet content © Victims Voice 2002                             Web design © Tim Finucane 2009



The specialist charities offering support to suddenly bereaved people have long known that lack of information is the cause of greatly added distress, at the worst possible time in their lives. In 1998, representations were made to the Home Office that the available ‘coroners’ leaflet did not give clear enough information, particularly about the rights of the next of kin under current law, and it was accepted that a new leaflet should be published.


The new leaflet When Sudden Death Occurs - Coroners and Inquests was compiled with the help of people bereaved by sudden or unexpected deaths and was published by the Home Office in March 2000. The leaflet was reprinted in February 2002 and is also available in Welsh and the following ethnic minority languages: Bengali; Chinese; Gujarati; Hindi; Punjabi; Urdu. The aim of the leaflet is to alert bereaved relatives to immediate issues, without overwhelming them, and to indicate the procedures which may follow a coroner's involvement.


The specialist charities had also recognised that additional information would be needed if deaths reported to coroners required post mortem examinations and, in some cases,* an inquest. This booklet, Sudden Death and The Coroner - Coroner's Post Mortem and Inquests, provides additional information for those who may need it and those who seek to support them. It is written from the perspective of suddenly bereaved people and recognises the work of the Coroner's Leaflet Group and many other people and organisations who have been determined to do something about the most frequently stated cause of added distress - lack of information and failure in communication.


Pip Finucane

Coroner's Leaflet Group                                                     December 2002






* The number of deaths reported to coroners in 2007 was 234,500. Post mortems were ordered in 47% (110,400) of cases and inquests were held on 13.2% of the deaths (30,800).