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Ministry of Justice

Coroners

Coroners Court

We are responsible for the law and policy governing coroners and deal with the operation of the current coroner system.


Coroners are independent judicial officers appointed and paid for by the relevant local authorities who are responsible for investigating violent, unnatural deaths or sudden deaths of unknown cause and deaths in custody that are reported to them.

Our responsibilities include:

  • cross-government liaison on coroner matters
  • queries and advice to ministers, coroners, local authorities and the public
  • liaison with coroners and bereavement groups
  • training for coroners and their staff
  • supervision of the amalgamation of coroner districts
  • other statutory casework.

Coroner reform

The government is committed to strengthening and improving the coroner system. The Coroners and Justice Bill was introduced into Parliament in January 2009, following extensive consultation, and became an Act on 12 November 2009.

We have published discussion papers on sensitive reporting of coroners' cases and a draft charter for bereaved people who come into contact with the coroner service. The charter will be enabled by the Act. The coroner provisions of the Act are expected to come into force in April 2012 (establishing an appeals system may take longer).