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FAIs given new look as rules come into force from June

3 April 2017

New rules modernising fatal accident inquiry procedure will come into force in June, Scottish Courts announced today.

The rules, which give effect to the reforms in the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc (Scotland) Act 2016, give the presiding sheriff wide powers and discretion to tailor the process according to the nature and complexity of the particular FAI, reinforce the "inquisitorial" nature of an inquiry.

They are designed to increase the efficiency of FAIs by calling for more work to be done at an early, preliminary stage with those taking part agreeing as much information as possible before the inquiry begins. This will enable the hearings to focus better on the relevant issues.

Developed by the Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC), which set up a working group chaired by Sheriff Principal Ian Abercrombie to provide the detail of how FAIs will work in practice, the rules have been adjusted following responses received in a consultation which concluded in January this year. (Click here for the SCJC repot on the consultation.) They will be laid before the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (4 April), and come into force on 15 June 2017.

“The rules are creative, radical and novel,” Sheriff Principal Abercrombie commented. “Far greater emphasis is placed on active management by the presiding sheriff who has been given broad powers to tailor the procedure in response to the nature and complexity of the issues raised.”

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