Every coronial investigation is different. It is up to the Coroner to decide what kind of investigation is necessary. It may involve:
- a review of the person's medical history and the circumstances of the death
- a post mortem and pathology tests
- specialist reports from experts and external investigators such as police, doctors, engineers and the fire brigade
- statements from witnesses, including family and friends
What happens once the investigation is complete?
Once the investigation is complete, the Coroner will review all of the evidence that has been gathered in order to determine whether an inquest (a court hearing to explore any unresolved issues) is necessary. In making this decision, the Coroner will also take into account the wishes of the family of the deceased person.
Most coronial proceedings can be finalised by the Coroner without the need for an inquest. In cases where the cause and manner of death are clear, the Coroner will usually dispense with the need for an inquest and finalise the matter.
The next of kin and other interested parties will receive a letter telling them that the case is finalised and what the Coroner has determined as the cause and manner of death. If you wish to receive reasons for the Coroner's decision to dispense with an inquest, you should submit a written request to the court by post or email.
If, at the conclusion of the investigation, the cause or manner of death remains unclear, the Coroner will usually direct that an inquest be conducted.
Missing persons, whom police suspect may be deceased, are also reported to the Coroner and investigated. An inquest is required to be held in all missing person cases. Read about support services available to friends and relatives of missing persons
How long will the investigation take?
The length of time to investigate a death differs substantially from case to case and depends on the nature of the death and the number of factual inquiries and medical examinations or tests involved. Whilst some cases may be resolved within a few months, the majority of cases take considerably longer, often up to twelve months and in rare instances, even longer.
What if there is evidence that a criminal offence was committed?
In some cases, the investigation leads to the discovery of evidence that results in a person or persons being charged with indictable offences in connection with the death. The Coroner’s court has no jurisdiction to deal with criminal offences so, in these cases, the Coroner must suspend the coronial proceedings until the criminal prosecution is concluded. Read more about the jurisdiction of the Coroner.
Access to evidence gathered during the coronial investigation
If you have a appropriate interest in a coronial matter and seek access to evidence gathered during the investigation please complete the Application for Access to Coronial Documents form.