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The Scottish Government has today published a Bill aimed at updating the law on Fatal Accident Inquiries.

The most eye-catching of the proposed changes would allow a Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held when a Scottish person has died abroad. At present, there is no means to allow that to happen. The Bill suggests allowing an Inquiry into the circumstances of a death in a foreign jurisdiction where any investigation carried out by other authorities has not sufficiently established the circumstances of the death and there is a realistic prospect of that being achieved by a Fatal Accident Inquiry held in Scotland.

Another of the proposed changes provides that if the Sheriff makes recommendations to try to avoid a repeat of any failings identified at the Inquiry, those can be addressed to a particular person or organisation. If that is done, that person or body must respond within 8 weeks. If they have not followed the Sheriff’s recommendations, and do not intend to do so, they must set out the reasons for that. The intention with this proposal is to make the process more robust.

The Bill reflects changes suggested through the current system in a 2009 Report by Lord Cullen and has been welcomed by campaigners and the Faculty of Advocates.

The Bill can be found here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/87332.aspx

Colin Sandilands, Partner and Solicitor Advocate

Chambers UK 2018

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