Referral to Procurator Fiscal and post mortems

If a person dies suddenly and unexpectedly or the cause of death is unclear, the GP or hospital doctor may be unable to issue a death certificate, and the Procurator Fiscal’s Office will be informed. For certain types of death (such as industrial accidents or suicide) this is a legal requirement.

The Procurator Fiscal may decide that a post mortem is necessary. The aim of a post mortem is to determine the cause of death. Arrangements to conduct the post mortem will be made as soon as possible. Please see the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service website for more information.

Once the investigation into the death has been completed and the cause of death established, the death certificate can be provided and the body of the person who has died can be released to the family or next of kin.

It is understandable that this investigation and delay may cause additional distress to those already reeling from the loss of the person who has died. The investigation into the cause of death and a post mortem if it is required will be carried out as soon as possible. If there are any cultural, religious or other objections to a post mortem examination being carried out it is important to tell the Procurator Fiscal as soon as possible.

There may be legal reasons why a post mortem is unavoidable, however where possible the wishes of the next of kin will be respected. Please note that the involvement of the Procurator Fiscal can be a common process and does not in any way imply that the death was suspicious from a criminal point of view.

Further information

Further information on post mortems is available on the NHS website.


Procurator Fiscal's Office GlasgowProcurator Fiscal's Office

Phone: 0300 020 3000
Address: Procurator Fiscal’s Office, 10 Ballater street, Glasgow, G5 9PS

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