Fatal Accident Inquiries: follow up review

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland's follow up review of their Fatal Accident Inquiries thematic which was published in August 2016.

Key Terms

Accused:Person charged with committing a crime.

Advocates Depute: Advocates Depute are prosecutors appointed by the Lord Advocate. Advocates Depute prosecute all cases in the High Court and present appeals in the Appeal Court.

Case Preparer: Legal and administrative staff who interview witnesses and prepare cases for court.

Crown Counsel: The Law Officers (Lord Advocate and Solicitor General) and Advocates Deputes.

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS): The independent public prosecution service in Scotland. It is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland. It is also responsible for the investigation of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths and the investigation of allegations of criminal conduct against police officers.

Determination: Written or oral findings made by a sheriff at the end of a FAI which may include recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

First Notice: A notice from COPFS requesting dates from SCTS for a Preliminary Hearing and the FAI. It provides the circumstances of the death, the objectives of the FAI, and other information required by the court.

Interested Party (IP): A person or entity that has a recognisable stake in the outcome of a matter before a court.

Lord Advocate: The Ministerial head of COPFS. He is the senior of the two Law Officers, the other being the Solicitor General.

Post Mortem Examination (also known as Autopsy): Dissection and examination of a body after death to determine the cause of death conducted by a medically qualified pathologist.

Preliminary Hearing: A procedural hearing. The purpose is to adjudicate on the state of preparation of the Crown and interested parties and to resolve all outstanding issues prior to the inquiry.

Procurator Fiscal: Legally qualified prosecutors who receive reports about crimes from the police and other agencies and make decisions on what action to take in the public interest and where appropriate prosecute cases. They also look into deaths that require further explanation and where appropriate conduct Fatal Accident Inquires and investigate criminal complaints against the police.

PROMIS: (Acronym for Prosecutor's Management Information System). COPFS computer based case-tracking and management system.

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS): Supports justice by providing the people, buildings and services needed by the judiciary, courts, Office of the Public Guardian and devolved tribunals.

Solemn Proceedings: Prosecution of serious criminal cases before a judge and jury in the High Court or Sheriff Court.

Summary Proceedings: Prosecutions held in the Sheriff or Justice of the Peace Court before a judge without a jury.

Victim Information and Advice (VIA): A COPFS dedicated Victim Information and Advice service.


Email: carolyn.sharp@gov.scot

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