Births, marriages, deaths and nationality The inquest system

Coronial inquests

Legally, the Coroner must open an inquest into a death, and will do so

  • If there is reasonable cause to suspect that the death was due to anything other than natural causes.  
  • Where the Deceased was in the care or custody of the State.  
  • If the cause of death is not known even after a post-mortem 

The purpose of a Coronial inquest 

An inquest is a fact-finding process which does not deal with issues of blame/responsibility or issues of criminal or civil liability.  It is a public judicial inquiry to find the answers to an important set of four questions as outlined below, with the 'How' question usually forming the focus.

  • Who the Deceased was 
  • When and where they died 
  • The medical cause of their death 
  • How the person came by their death

The Coroner cannot legally deal with any other matters but these can be addressed in other courts if necessary. 

Pre-inquest review hearing 

In some cases, we may need to arrange a pre-inquest review hearing, to which no witnesses attend and no evidence is given, but family members will be invited.  It is an administrative hearing called to assist the final hearing run more smoothly and during which to agree: 

  • What reports should be obtained,  
  • Which witnesses should be called,  
  • Whether a jury is needed  
  • If special provisions of human rights law apply.   

Short form inquest 

For other cases, where there is a legal requirement to hold an inquest but all the questions have been resolved by the paper evidence, no-one need give evidence in person and a short-form hearing is appropriate.  In these circumstances a Coroner goes into the courtroom and formally admits the paper evidence into the inquest record and comes to their conclusion.  

If a short-form inquest is suitable one of our Officers will contact you to explain the process and ask if you wish to arrange to attend Court to observe.  


Inquest Conclusion

When an inquest has been concluded our court staff will register the death for you using information obtained at the inquest so you do not need to attend the Registration Office yourself.  Following a further 14 days you will be able to purchase copies of the final death certificate on line Find out how to order certificates and how much they will cost


If you wish to check on the progress of any inquest, please feel free to contact the office at any time.  

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