Coronial Investigations into Deaths Abroad

Closed 22 Dec 2022

Opened 27 Oct 2022


Coroners’ courts are a key part of our judicial system. The role of a coroner is to conduct formal investigations, known as inquests, into certain deaths and to determine who the deceased was, and how, when and where they came to their death.

Currently a coroner in Northern Ireland can only hold an inquest where a body has been ‘found’ here, or where a death is unexpected, unexplained or occurred in suspicious circumstances. ‘Found’ is interpreted as involving an element of surprise, meaning a coroner cannot hold an inquest into a death abroad.

In the rest of the UK and Ireland, coroners, or the Lord Advocate in Scotland, can investigate a death abroad where a body has been repatriated, although that power is exercised differently in each jurisdiction. The law in Northern Ireland is therefore different to that in the rest of the UK and Ireland and for citizens here, there is no possibility of having a coronial investigation in Northern Ireland in circumstances that would merit one had the death occurred here.




Why your views matter

The consultation therefore seeks views on whether current legislation in the Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959 should be changed to allow a coronial investigation to be held when a death has occurred abroad and the body has been returned to Northern Ireland.

Please see the links below to the Consultation on Coronial Investigations into Deaths Abroad and the associated Impact Assessments. 

What happens next

Following the close of the consultation on 22 December 2022, all responses and feedback will be collated for review by the Department of Justice, and a post consultation report will be produced. 


  • Anyone from any background


  • Policy Development