Coroners and Justice Act 2009 Explanatory Notes

Section 4: Discontinuance where cause of death revealed by post-mortem examination

75.This section allows a senior coroner to discontinue an investigation which was started because the cause of death was unknown. The coroner may discontinue such an investigation if a post-mortem examination under section 14 reveals the cause of death, and the coroner thinks that it is not necessary to continue the investigation; an inquest will not therefore be required. This may be because, for example, the death is shown to be due to natural causes and there are no other circumstances (such as state detention) associated with the death which would mean that the investigation needs to continue to an inquest. The coroner may not discontinue the investigation if he or she suspects the deceased died a violent or unnatural death, or died whilst in state detention. This is developed from section 19 of the 1988 Act.

76.If a senior coroner discontinues an investigation under this section he or she is not permitted to go on to hold an inquest into the death or make any determination. The section includes a new requirement for the coroner to explain why an investigation has been discontinued if asked to do so. There is also provision for a fresh investigation to be conducted if, for example, new information comes to light.

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