Chapter 5
An online process for certifying cause of death

Verification of death

5.12Our terms of reference require us to consider whether there should be statutory provision for certifying that life is extinct rather than relying on the non-statutory system as currently exists for verifying the fact of death.

5.13We consider that it would be helpful for the online death certification process to include a section that allows a qualified person to verify the fact of death. That section could be completed immediately after death, leaving other sections to be completed later. The Police may find that this section of the online form is more useful in some cases than their paper version of the Life Extinct form.

5.14However, like the current Life Extinct form, completion of the verification of death section of the online form should not be a statutory requirement or a prerequisite to further actions, including disposal of the body. The duties and actions (statutory or otherwise) that are engaged at the point of death should be tied to the fact of death, not the fact that someone has certified the fact of death. To provide otherwise would be to create a risk of unnecessary delay. Despite that, there is nothing to prevent Police, coroners, funeral directors or mortuary staff from having policies or protocols that require verification of death before they undertake certain actions. In those cases, this section of the online process may be useful to them.