Chapter 4
Central responsibility for the cause of death certification system


4.5In Issues Paper 23 we asked whether a statutory body should have the responsibility for the monitoring and oversight of death and cremation certification in New Zealand and whether that responsibility should lie with the Ministry of Justice, which also has responsibility for the coronial system.

4.6The 20 submitters who addressed this question unanimously supported the appointment of a statutory body to have responsibility for monitoring death certification. The reasons given focused on the importance of the purposes of death certification and the need for tighter control and scrutiny of the system.

4.7However, submitters differed on where they thought the responsibility should lie. Some submitters favoured responsibility resting with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on the basis that they already have responsibility for the coronial system and they could be a “one-stop shop” for all deaths. Some favoured MOJ on the basis that, in their experience, it had managed matters in this area better than the Ministry of Health (MOH) in recent years.

4.8MOJ itself was not in favour of taking responsibility for death certification. It distinguished the coronial system as being a legal rather than medical system. It considered that oversight of death certification required medical judgement for which it did not have expertise. This view was supported by the former Chief Coroner and other submitters who thought that responsibility should lie with MOH.