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Coroner in United Kingdom

Definition of Coroner

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Coroner :

An officer of the Crown whose principal function is to investigate deaths suspected of being violent or unnatural. He will do this either by ordering an *autopsy or conducting an *inquest. The coroner also holds inquests on *treasure trove. Coroners are appointed by the Crown from among barristers, solicitors, and qualified medical practitioners of not less than five years’ standing.

Coroner in North Ireland

Coroners inquire into deaths reported to them that appear to be unexpected or unexplained; as a result of violence or an accident; as a result of negligence; or from any cause other than natural illness or disease.

A coroner will consider if it is necessary to hold an inquest into a particular death, and s/he may also direct a post-mortem examination. This may be followed by the holding of a formal inquest, which may either be presided over by the coroner only or by a coroner with the assistance of a jury.

Concept of Coroner

The following is an old definition of Coroner [1], a term which has several meanings:1. An officer who has principally to do with pleas of the crown, or such wherein the king is more immediately concerned

Alternative Meaning

A county officer who inquires into the causes of sudden or violent deaths, while the facts are recent and the circumstances unchanged. The lord chief justice is the chief coroner of all England; and there are usually four coroners for each county. The office is of equal antiquity with that of sheriff; was ordained with his, to keep the peace, when the earls gave up the wardship of the county. Much honor formerly appertained to the office, which might be for life. According to Blackstone, the duties of the ofttee, which are principally judicial, are largely defined by 4 Edw. I (1276), and consist in inquiring (whence (the word(s) which follow it are derivatives from the same root word) coroner’s inquest) when any person is slain, or dies suddenly, or in prison, concerning the manner of his death. This must appear upon view of the body, at the place where death happened, by a Jury of four to six persons. If any person be found guilty of homicide the coroner ia to commit him to prison for further trial, and to inquire as to his property, which is forfelted thereby; and he is also to certify the whole of the inquisition, with the evidence, to the court of king’s bench or to the next assizes. Another branch of his office was to inquire generally concerning shipwrecks, and treasure-trove. His ministerial office is as the sheriff’s substitute: when exception is taken to the sheriff, for suspicion of partiality, process is awarded to the coroner for execution. See Sheriff. The object of an inquest is to seek information and secure evidence in case of death by violence or other undue means. It is the coroner’s duty to act only when there is reasonable ground to suspect that a death was so caused; the power is not to be exercised capriciously, and arbitrarily against all reason. The welfare of society and the interests of public justice alike demand that an inquest should be thorough. Statutory provisions are, therefore, to be liberally construed, with a view ,to the accomplishment of the end desired. They are to be so construed that the coroner may be thereby authorized to employ such medical, surgical, or other scientific skill as may be necessary, in his judgment, in the particular case, and to charge his county with payment of the reasonable expense thereof. In Massachusetts, the office was abolished in 1877. The governor appoints as examiners ” men learned in the science of medicine,” who hold autopsies, and, in cases of death from violence, notify the district attorney and a justice of that fact.


Notes and References

  1. Meaning of Coroner provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889) (Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims and an Exposition of the Principles of Law: Comprising a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence; William C. Anderson; T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, Chicago, United States)

Concept of Pesquidor (Spanish)

Traditional meaning of pesquidor (Spanish) [1] in the English common law history: A coroner.


Notes and References

  1. Based on A concise law dictionary of words, phrases and maxims, “Pesquidor (Spanish)”, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911, United States. This term and/or definition may be absolete. It is also called the Stimson’s Law dictionary, based on a glossary of terms, included Pesquidor (Spanish).

See Also

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Coroner
  • Author: Agostino Von Hassell
  • Description: Definition of Coroner In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Coroner : An officer of the [...]

This entry was last updated: April 4, 2020


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