Legal Requirements 

English law does not require a doctor to confirm death has occurred or view the body of a deceased person. However, English law requires the doctor who attended the deceased during the last illness to issue a certificate detailing the cause of death to the Registrar of Births and Deaths. 

The doctor is required to notify the cause of death as a certificate, on a form prescribed, stating to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, the cause of death. It should be noted that the strict interpretation of the law is that the doctor shall notify the cause of death, not the fact. Thus, a doctor does not certify that death has occurred, only what in his or her opinion was the cause, assuming that death has taken place.

Death Certificates

English law:

  • does not require a doctor to confirm death has occurred or that “life is extinct”
  • does not require a doctor to view the body of a deceased person
  • does not require a doctor to report the fact that death has occurred
  • does require the doctor who attended the deceased during the last illness to issue a certificate detailing the cause of death

Legal requirements

  • The law requires a doctor to notify the cause of death of any patient whom he or she has attended during that patient’s last illness to the Registrar of Births and Deaths. The doctor is required to notify the cause of death as a certificate, on a form prescribed, stating to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, the cause of death.
  • It should be noted that the strict interpretation of the law is that the doctor shall notify the cause of death, not the fact.

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