Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Coroners Process

The Coroner is a Judicial Officer who must be advised when a person dies apparently from unnatural causes or where the cause of death is not known.

Once a report of death is received, usually from the police, doctors or hospital authorities, the Coroner has legal control over the body of the deceased person and must establish:

  • The manner in which the death arose;
  • The cause of death;
  • The particulars needed to register the death; and
  • The identity of the deceased.

In some cases the Coroner may comment and make recommendations about public health or safety or the administration of justice, to help prevent similar deaths happening.

There does not have to be anything suspicious about the death for the Coroner to be involved. Many investigations involve people who have died of natural causes.

What the Investigation can Involve

There will be an investigation into every reportable death.

The investigation will vary depending on the circumstances of the death and may include:

  1. A review of the person's medical history and the circumstances of the death.
  2. An autopsy and pathology tests
  3. Reports from investigators, such as the police, doctors, engineers, work safety inspectors, electrical inspectors, mining inspectors, air safety officers etc., as well as statements from witnesses.
  4. In some cases expert reports are obtained.

How Long will it Take

It is difficult to indicate the exact timing of an investigation as the circumstances of each death are unique and the complexity of each inquiry will vary accordingly.

A Coronial Inquiry will take a number of months, particularly where the death is due to unnatural causes. If an Inquest is necessary the case will take longer to complete.

You are encouraged to contact the Coroner's Investigator (if known) or the Duty Coronial Counsellor to establish the current status of the inquiry.

At the end of the Investigation

In most cases when the investigation is complete the coroner will complete a Record of Investigation of Death Form which details the coroner's findings, based on the documents which have been received, and provides necessary information for the death to be registered.

If the investigation is likely to be protracted and family members need information about the death for legal or insurance purposes they should contact staff at the Coroners Court to seek assistance - in some cases an Interim Record of Death Form can be completed.

In a small number of cases a public hearing known as an inquest is held.

Deaths in Perth

A death reported to the Coroner in Perth is dealt by:

Coroner's Court of Western Australia
Central Law Courts,
Level 10, 30 St Georges Terrace

Telephone: (08) 9425 2900 or 1800 671 994 (free call for country callers)

Deaths In Country Areas of West Australia

When a death that must be reported to the Coroner occurs in a country area, the investigation will usually be dealt with at one of the Regional Magistrates' Courts at Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Northam or South Hedland. For information relating to these deaths, ring the Coroner's Registrar at the relevant location.

The majority of autopsies conducted on persons who have died in a country region are performed at the State Mortuary in Perth, however, there are instances when the autopsy is performed by a doctor in a country area. Arrangements for autopsies are conducted by the Registrar at the local Magistrates' Court. The investigation is conducted by a local police officer and the finding will be completed by a local magistrate who is also the Coroner.

Contacting the Coroner if you have Information

Anyone who has information they believe is relevant can write to the Coroner. This should be done as early as possible. This information will be taken into account in the investigation.

If you wish to provide information you won't be able to ring and speak to the Coroner in person but you can speak to the Coroner's Investigator (if known), or a staff member who can advise you further.

Last updated: 11-Dec-2017

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