Attending a Public Inquiry
Fatal accident inquiries are public inquiries held in respect of the deaths of people in the course of employment, in legal custody or sudden, suspicious and unexplained deaths in circumstances giving rise to serious public concern.
Fatal accident inquiries (FAIs) are instructed by the procurator fiscal, acting under the authority of the Lord Advocate. They are designed to establish the time, place and cause of a death; they do not attribute blame or guilt in either the civil or criminal sense.
Inquiries are held in the Sheriff Court, with evidence being led by the procurator fiscal. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the Sheriff will issue a determination which will contain findings about the circumstances of the death. The Sheriff may also make recommendations as to how such deaths may be avoided in future.
These recommendations are not legally binding.
FAI legislation under review
In 2008, the Fatal Accident Inquiries process was put under review and in 2014 the Scottish Government consulted on the review's findings and proposals.
The result of the consultation was The Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016, which was passed into law by the Scottish Parliament on 10 December 2015. It came into force in June 2017.
Thompsons felt that change was long overdue. Our experience in helping the families of victims of fatal accidents and the injustices and difficulties of the previous process made us fierce advocates for change.
You can read the Review of Fatal Accident Inquiry legislation - Thompsons Response, here.
Changes to the FAI process
The new Act made numerous changes to how FAIs are conducted. Some of these changes are listed below:
- The list of circumstances for holding mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiries was extended.
- The level of involvement of bereaved families in the process was increased.
- Greater flexibility regarding the location of the inquiry.
- Changes in the way the Sheriff makes recommendations for respondents following an inquiry's findings.
- Changes to how respondents must act upon recommendations made by the Sheriff.
However, in our opinion the changes did not go far enough and families are still often left unfulfilled by the process. The message given by the changes was that workplace deaths are not seen as important in the same way as criminal matters. And, recommendations made to a respondent as a result of an inquiry are still not enforceable and often ignored.
Thompsons takes every claim seriously
Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland has represented many families seeking justice following the death of a loved one in Scotland.
We are also tireless campaigners for change and have been instrumental in helping bereaved families, in many different situations, seek social and legislative change.
If your family member has died in a situation where another party had a duty of care to protect them from harm, Talk to Thompsons today and we can provide legal advice and support so that you may seek full justice.
Please fill in our online claim form or call us on 0800 0891 331 and we will be happy to discuss your situation.