Coroners’ courts are a key part of Northern Ireland’s 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.
However coroners here cannot investigate the death of a Northern Ireland citizen in another jurisdiction. A body must be ‘found’ here, which means there must be an element of discovery or chance encounter, which is not the case when a body is repatriated.
The law in Northern Ireland is therefore different to that in the rest of the UK and Ireland. The Department is exploring a number of options which would bring our law into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland by providing for an investigatory process which could provide answers for bereaved families as to how, when and where their loved one came to their death abroad.