Inquests and Coroners
Updated: October 2017
Words you may need to know
Inquest - an enquiry into the cause and nature of a person death’s when there are questions surrounding it.
Viscount - a legally qualified person who has responsibility for amongst other things, inquests.
Post-mortem examination - this is a procedure where the person who has died is examined by a specially trained medical person called a Pathologist in order to try and establish the time of death and the cause of death
Pathologist - A medically qualified person who is trained in establishing the cause of death
Memorial service - this is a service, religious or otherwise remembering someone who has passed away. Sometimes the funeral has already taken place, or there may be no body.
The role of Coroner in Jersey is a responsibility of the Viscount. However, in most circumstances the Deputy Viscount will conduct an inquest and sometimes a Relief Coroner.
There is a ‘Guide to Sudden Deaths and Inquests’ on the Viscount’s Department website which contains a lot of information and helpful advice. A brief explanation of what an inquest is and when an inquest happens is provided below but anyone who wants to know more should read the ‘Guide to Sudden Deaths and Inquests’ document.
What is an Inquest and when does an inquest happen?
Very briefly, when someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly the death needs to be reported to the police. The police will carry out an investigation and make a Report which is sent to the Coroner.
It is the Coroner who decides if an inquest is necessary and also if a post-mortem is necessary.
An inquest is held to try and answer four questions:
- who the deceased was
- where the deceased died
- when the deceased died
- how they died
A post-mortem is an examination of the body which is carried out by a pathologist. It is held to help with the inquest or else to help decide if an inquest is necessary.
Inquests are usually held in the HV Benest Room which is on the ground floor of Morier House, Halkett Place, St Helier.
Witnesses can be called by the Coroner. Family members and their lawyers, if they have one can attend. Members of the public and the news media can also attend.
Topics covered in the ‘Guide to Sudden Deaths and Inquests’:
- When do deaths have to be reported to the police?
- What happens next?
- Does there need to be an Inquest?
- How is the Family Kept Informed?
- When is the body released in Inquest Cases?
- What is an Inquest?
- Where and When is the Inquest held?
- The Limitations of an Inquest
- What happens after an Inquest?
Information is also provided on:
- Organ Donation
- Transportation of Bodies In and Out of Jersey
Death at Sea
The Deputy Viscount will not open the inquest, nor can a funeral take place, until the body is recovered. The family can arrange a memorial service if the body is not found. There are special rules for a possible inquiry and the registration of death if a merchant seaman dies on a Jersey registered ship, under Article 76 of the Shipping (Jersey) Law 2002.
The Viscount’s Department
Tel: (01534) 441402
Fax: (01534) 441499
The Island’s Funeral Directors will also be able to assist with queries.