We have previously reported on Lord Cullen’s 2009 Review of Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAI) Legislation, which sought to endorse a more effective, practical and modern system of public inquiry into deaths in Scotland. The Scottish Government considered Lord Cullen's 36 recommendations in discussion with the Scottish Court Service (SCS) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). The COPFS has already implemented six non-legislative recommendations.

Last week saw the close of a recent government consultation that considered further legislative reform of FAI procedure. The consultation paper invited views on six areas in particular:

  1. Extending the categories of death in which it is mandatory to hold FAIs. Under current legislation, FAIs are mandatory only for deaths occurring as a result of an accident at work, or in legal custody, including prison;
  2. Permitting discretionary FAIs into deaths of Scots abroad where the body is repatriated to Scotland. There are currently no provisions to hold FAIs into deaths of persons domiciled in Scotland who die abroad, even if the body is repatriated to Scotland;
  3. Creating a more efficient system in order to avoid unreasonable delays;
  4. Consider holding FAIs in alternative accommodation. At present, FAIs typically take place in a court room setting;
  5. Making legal aid for bereaved relatives more accessible; and
  6. Aligning Sheriffs’ determinations with the practice of Coroner’s Inquests, to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, or, reasons given for non-compliance.

Rules regarding FAI procedure will be drafted as part of the implementation of the proposed Bill.  The proposed Bill will repeal the current Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 and enact new legislation to govern the system of FAIs.

View the consultation paper at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00454879.pdf