Current legislative provisions for burial or cremation
Application for cremation – emergency legislative provision
The UK Coronavirus Act 2020 allows Scottish Ministers to suspend the effect of certain provisions the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) and the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019. On 8 April 2020, the Scottish Ministers published a determination, under the UK Coronavirus Act 2020 .
This means that anyone on the statutory hierarchy can make arrangements for cremation, regardless of where they are placed in the hierarchy set out at section 65 and section 66 of the 2016 Act. The applicant still has to be one of those in the hierarchy, and the hierarchy should be followed wherever possible. The suspension aims to provide flexibility in the event that close relatives of the deceased are unwell and unable to complete the cremation application form, and allows funeral arrangements to progress.
The cremation application form should be completed by the applicant. While it is understood that there will be a few occasions where an applicant will be unable to complete the form themselves, funeral directors should not routinely complete the form. Only where the applicant is unable to do so should the funeral director act as a scribe for the applicant and complete the answers to the questions on the form.
This emergency provision came into force on Wednesday 8 April 2020. This change will remain in place until revoked by a subsequent determination of the Scottish Ministers under schedule 14 of the 2020 Act.
Application for cremation – supplementary form
It is not permitted for a funeral director to sign a cremation application form on behalf of an applicant. If an applicant cannot sign a cremation application due to adherence to restrictions or NHS advice on staying at home, physical distancing or shielding, a supplementary form has been produced for use by funeral directors and cremation authorities to ensure arrangements can continue and an audit trail of this action captured and ensure the cremation can proceed. This form is available on the Scottish Government website.
It is anticipated that as the Covid restrictions ease, so will the need to use the supplementary form.
Application for burial
There is no statutory application form for burial and funeral directors should contact their local burial authority to confirm whether any specific arrangements may be in place.