The Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Etc. (Scotland) Act 2016 – Reporting Requirement

25.06.18

Last week the Scottish Government reported on the Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) concluded in the financial year 2017 – 2018. The  requirement to provide this report was introduced by the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016. This is the first time the statistics have been produced. The statistics show that 12 FAIs were concluded in the last financial year under the 2016 Act.


Recommendations of precautions which could prevent deaths in similar circumstances in the future were made in one of those 12 cases. Section 28 of the Act requires a person to whom a recommendation is made to respond. The response must detail what they have done or propose to do in response to the recommendation, or whether they do not intend to comply and the reasons for that. This requirement to respond was one of the major changes introduced by the 2016 Act. The court has discretion as to whether or not the response is published. Where no response is received the court may publish a notice of that fact. No such notices were published in the last financial year.


Due to transitional arrangements the number of inquiries held under the new Act is relatively low. The majority of inquiries are still being held under the previous Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976. 7 FAIs have concluded so far in the financial year 2018/19 and there are 15 FAIs in progress.


Around 11,000 deaths are reported to the COPFS each year, with an average of 50 – 60 of those resulting in an FAI being held. The courts make recommendations in around a third of the FAIs heard. The small amount of data available so far means we cannot know the effect of the new requirement to respond and whether or not it will encourage the courts to make more recommendations in the future.