The former ACT chief magistrate has repeated her call for a dedicated coroner for the territory and for the courts to receive funding specifically to deal with coronial matters.
Lorraine Walker recently took up the position of acting judge in the territory's new drug and alcohol court, but made the call in the ACT Coroner's Court annual report as the territory's chief coroner.
She said the magistrates and coronial staff had achieved remarkable results in the past year in managing the coronial workload, but that it remained a secondary priority to magistrate duties.
Each of the ACT magistrates share coronial responsibilities in addition to their regular workload.
"My coronial colleagues and the staff of the court do the best they can within the time ordinarily available to them, and ... have achieved truly remarkable results in the circumstances," acting Justice Walker said.
"A dedicated coroner however is probably the next step which needs to be taken to professionalise the jurisdiction and ensure consistency and efficiency in dealing with matters."
A spokesman for Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay pointed to greater funding provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid and for a new magistrate to deal with the increased capacity of the Magistrates Court. He said how coronial matters were resolved was a matter for the judiciary.
"Decisions about the organisation of the Magistrates and Coroner's Court, and how resources are allocated for coronial hearings, are ultimately a matter for the new chief magistrate," the spokesman said.
The Coroner's Court had 315 cases referred to it in the 2018-19 financial year, an increase from each of the previous three years.
Eight cases were finalised by way of a hearing and 333 cases were resolved by a coroner in chambers.
Acting Justice Walker said the court targeted the oldest open cases to be resolved first and that the number of cases left pending at the end of the financial year was 158, about a 10 per cent reduction from the previous year.
She also said that the court was receiving too many referrals by way of there being no death certificate issued in a matter. She said the ACT Coroners Court received the highest proportion of referrals of natural cause deaths in Australia.
She said she saw "far too many" referrals relating to people that had chronic comorbidities, which could reasonably cause death, but it seemed doctors were reluctant to issue a death certificate.
Acting Justice Walker suggested professional medical bodies needed to provide guidance to members about the issuing of death certificates.
The attorney-general's spokesman said the government had provided $1.9 million to recruit a full-time forensic pathologist for the ACT to assist the court, which currently relies on pathologists on a case-by-case basis.
However, the report indicated the recruitment had so far been unsuccessful, in part due to a worldwide shortage of qualified forensic pathologists.