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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 50:  Amendments to the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976

320.This section makes amendments to the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976 (the 1976 Act). Subsection (2) inserts a new section 1A into the 1976 Act. If subsection (4) of new section 1A applies, the procurator fiscal for the appropriate district will be required to investigate the circumstances of a death and apply to the sheriff to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

321.Subsection (4) of new section 1A will apply if three conditions are met. First, the Lord Advocate is notified under section 12 (discussed at paragraphs 124 to 130) by the Secretary of State or Chief Coroner that it may be appropriate for a death to be investigated under the 1976 Act. Secondly (in the same way that Fatal Accident Inquiries would be triggered for a death that occurs in Scotland) the person who died was either in legal custody at the time of death or the death was sudden, suspicious or unexplained or the circumstances of the death would give rise to serious public concern. And thirdly, the Lord Advocate decides that it would be appropriate for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to be held into the death and does not reverse this decision.

322.Subsection (5) of new section 1A provides that subsection (4) does not apply to a death if the Lord Advocate is satisfied that criminal proceedings have sufficiently established the circumstances of the death.

323.Subsection (6) of new section 1A outlines the process of an application from the procurator fiscal to the sheriff for a Fatal Accident Inquiry. Subsection (7) gives the Lord Advocate the responsibility for determining the appropriate district and sheriffdom.

324.Subsections (3) to (5) make consequential amendments to sections 2, 3 and 6 of the 1976 Act.

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