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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-12509: Elaine Smith (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 8 November 2017

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide a breakdown of all cases in which the Lord Advocate has used discretionary powers under Section 6 of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016 to launch fatal accident investigations in cases where people who were ordinarily resident in Scotland died while abroad.

Answered by: James Wolffe QC 21 November 2017

The Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016 (the 2016 Act) commenced on 15 June 2017. In accordance with Section 6 of the 2016 Act the Lord Advocate has the power to direct that a discretionary Fatal Accident Inquiry be held into a death of a person ordinarily resident in Scotland who has died outwith the UK after that date.

To date the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has received no reports of deaths outwith the UK to investigate in terms of Section 6 of the 2016 Act.

The power referred to above is subject to important limitations. In particular, the Lord Advocate may not order such an Inquiry unless he is satisfied that the circumstances have not been sufficiently established in the course of the investigation conducted in the jurisdiction where the death occurred, and where he consider that there is a real prospect of establishing those circumstances in an Inquiry in Scotland. The Act accordingly presupposes, at least in the ordinary course of things, that the relevant foreign authorities should, in the first instance, be allowed to conduct their inquiries. Information about those inquiries would ordinarily be sought by Police Scotland through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and relevant information passed on to the Crown.