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Act of Sederunt (Fatal Accident Inquiry Rules) 2017

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Preliminary hearings

Purpose of preliminary hearings

3.6.—(1) The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to—

(a)ensure that the purpose of the inquiry is achieved when the inquiry takes place;

(b)consider the scope of the inquiry and identify the issues which are in dispute; and

(c)consider the information likely to be presented at the inquiry and the manner in which it should be presented.

(2) The sheriff may order as many preliminary hearings to take place as is necessary to achieve that purpose.

Before the first preliminary hearing

3.7.  Unless the sheriff orders otherwise, at least 7 days before the first preliminary hearing each participant must lodge a brief note setting out, where known—

(a)the matters considered likely to be in dispute at the inquiry;

(b)a list of any productions which it is considered might be used at the inquiry and a note of their relevance to the purpose of the inquiry;

(c)a list of persons whom it is considered might be led as witnesses at the inquiry and a note of their relevance to the purpose of the inquiry; and

(d)the matters which the sheriff might be invited to address in the sheriff’s determination.

Procedure

3.8.—(1) The procedure at a preliminary hearing is to be as ordered by the sheriff.

(2) At the preliminary hearing (or by the last preliminary hearing) the sheriff must—

(a)consider whether there are any further persons who the sheriff is satisfied have an interest in the inquiry under section 11(1)(e);

(b)establish who is to participate in the inquiry;

(c)establish the nature and complexity of the inquiry;

(d)consider the likely length, timetable and date for the start of the inquiry;

(e)establish any matters which are likely to be in dispute at the inquiry;

(f)establish the state of preparedness of the participants;

(g)consider how information should be presented to the inquiry including—

(i)how information will be gathered (see rule 4.4);

(ii)the timetable for lodging productions and witness lists (see rules 4.6 and 4.7);

(iii)the arrangements for any vulnerable witnesses (see rule 4.9);

(iv)how participants are progressing with discharging their duty to agree information (see rule 4.11);

(v)whether notices to admit information are required (see rule 4.12);

(vi)whether any witness statements will be required (see rule 4.13);

(vii)whether any video recordings will be required (see rule 4.14);

(viii)how any expert witnesses should present information (see rules 4.15 to 4.19); and

(ix)what other technology (for example, live links) will be used;

(h)consider any other preliminary matter raised by a participant; and

(i)identify any legal aid applications which have been, or require to be, made or renewed by participants.

(3) At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing the sheriff must—

(a)fix a date for another preliminary hearing; or

(b)fix a date for the start of the inquiry.

(4) Where the sheriff fixes a date for another preliminary hearing, the sheriff must specify—

(a)the reason for fixing another preliminary hearing; and

(b)the matters which will be considered at that preliminary hearing.

(5) Where the sheriff fixes a date for the start of the inquiry, SCTS must publish a notice of that date on its website.

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