When the family doesn't want a post mortem

You have the right to object to a post mortem examination of your family member unless the death was part of a crime or delaying the post mortem would make it too hard for the pathologist to see how the person died.

How to object to a post mortem

You need to object within 24 hours from when the coroner made the decision to have a post mortem.

You can tell the National Initial Investigation Office Coordinator over the phone. You’ll then need to complete the form attached to the link below and submit the form to the National Initial Investigation Office:

Objection to post mortem [PDF, 512 KB]

Coroner’s decision

The coroner will then make a decision. They may decide to:

  • uphold your objection and a post mortem will not be carried out
  • order a limited (lesser) post mortem – this means the pathologists may only look at certain parts of the person or only do an external examination
  • order a full post mortem
  • order an immediate post mortem. This could be a limited post mortem or a full post mortem. It is done without delay to ensure the person who has died is returned to the family as soon as possible. This will depend on the circumstances of the death and the availability of a mortuary, mortuary staff and a pathologist.

Appeal to High Court if coroner decides to go ahead with post mortem

If the coroner decides to go ahead with the post mortem, you can ask the High Court to stop the post mortem. There is a fee for this but you might be able to apply for help to pay the fee or have it cancelled (waived).

Find out more about fee waivers (external link)

You need to apply to the High Court within 48 hours of being told the coroner has decided to go ahead with the post mortem. It will probably help to talk to a lawyer about the correct way to apply to the High Court.

The High Court will hear any objection to a post mortem urgently. The decision of the High Court is final and both the coroner and the family must do what the High Court orders.

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