Funeral Director Licensing Working Group minutes: August 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 23 August 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • James Blackburn, Scotmid Funerals
  • Ephraim Borowski, Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
  • Gerry Boyle, Dignity
  • Nick Britten, National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • Jim Brodie, Brodie’s Funerals
  • Andrew Brown, Co-op Funeralcare
  • Ross Corse, John Corse Funerals
  • Graeme Easton, British Institute of Funeral Directors (BIFD)
  • Gordon Findlater, Inspector of Burial, Cremation and Funeral Directors
  • John Levett, NAFD
  • David MacColl, Scottish Bereavement Benchmarking Group (SBBG)
  • John MacLean, Highland Council
  • Declan Maguire, National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
  • Rizy Mohammed, National Burial Council
  • Robert Swanson, Senior Inspector of Burial, Cremation and Funeral Directors
  • Terry Tennens, SAIF

Scottish Government

  • Sinéad Power, Head of Health Protection Division (chair)
  • Robert Girvan, Health Protection Division
  • Katrina McNeill, Burial and Cremation Team
  • Elliot Paton, Burial and Cremation Team
  • Kim Hunter, Burial and Cremation Team (minutes)


  • Rachel Bradburne, NAFD
  • Bobby Hopkin-Hoggarth, British Institute of Embalmers (BIE)
  • Joseph Murren, SAIF
  • Margaret Paterson, Pushing Up the Daisies
  • Mark Porteous, Porteous Funerals
  • Tim Purves, William Purves Funeral Directors

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions – paper 2.1

The meeting was opened and apologies were noted.

Minutes from meeting 1

The group were content with the minutes of the previous meeting and agreed to publish on the SG website.

Action 1: Officials to publish the minutes on the SG website.

Actions from meeting 1 (paper 2.2)

An update on the actions and progress made was provided. The group had no comments on the actions.

Topics for discussion (paper 2.3)  

An overview of paper 2.3 was provided. The paper sets out initial thinking on what will be licensed, the proposed licensing application and renewal procedures, potential licence conditions and the licensing roles in funeral director businesses.

What will be licensed

The group noted the complexities to licensing funeral director businesses.

The group considered a number of options for what would be the licensed.

  • licence by registered company name. This option was largely rejected because all premises covered by the licence might be affected by something in one premises
  • a two tiered system was suggested with premises that provide ‘care of the deceased’ having one licence and the ‘arranging/viewing’ premises a separate licence. This option was later considered complicated, although some members wished to consider this option further
  • licence by trading name or by premises. There was mixed views on these options with some preferring one over the other. Further consideration will be taken forward by the Team taking on board the views expressed by the Group. Consideration is needed on perception of “a business” and shared spaces such as mortuaries

The group considered the activities that would need to be covered by the licence such as transporting the deceased, repatriation, direct cremation companies and funeral directors/arrangers who subcontract all aspects of a funeral.

The group acknowledged that the licensing scheme will apply to all funeral director businesses. Consideration will be given to ensure that the scheme and regulations do not disproportionally affect certain groups, including small businesses who only do a few funerals each year.

A question was raised on whether local authorities who conduct funerals (excluding responsibility for section 87 funerals) would be considered to be a funeral director. Officials agreed to look into this further.

The group discussed those who subcontract some/all aspects of their business, and how they would be inspected or licensed. The group discussed that procedures as well as the premises should be inspected. As part of the licence application each business will be asked to provide details of the parts of the Code of Practice that are not relevant to them.

Action 2: Officials to consider further what will be licensed

Action 3: Officials to look into local authority funerals and whether they would be a funeral director business caught by the licensing scheme

Action 4: Officials to consider those who subcontract some/all aspects of their business and how this would be covered under the scheme

Proposed licensing application process and renewal procedures

An overview of options for the procedure was provided, with the intention of having interim licences, inspection and then full licence. A question was asked about the need for interim licences. This is because of the logistics of bringing in licensing for existing businesses and ensuring they are not operating without a licence once as it will be an offence to do so.

The group had mixed views on the timescales indicated. Officials noted the intention to have a process that is as streamlined as possible and that there will be an admin team, a website and reminders sent. The group agreed the timescales set were workable.

The group preferred to call the interim licence a ‘registration’. This was to mitigate that some businesses might advertise for marketing purposes that they were the ‘only licensed business’ in a particular geographical area, before others have had a chance to receive their interim licence. It was perceived that this could be misleading for the public and be unfair to others. It was also considered an appropriate condition of ‘registration’ that no one can claim to be licensed until the full licence is issued.

Members considered interim licences would be more suitable to pre-existing funeral directors but asked what would happen to a new funeral director entering the sector after licensing is established. The group agreed that further consideration would be needed for new businesses.

Action 5: Officials to consider how new businesses will be licensed

Potential licence conditions

The group did not raise objections to the suggestions for licence conditions in the discussion paper. Some members considered that further discussions should take place as the process becomes more developed.

The group considered it appropriate for a self-assessment questionnaire to be filled out as part of an initial licence application, which would state services they offer in relation to the Code of Practice; for example, viewing.

Action 6: Officials to consider licence conditions further

Licensing roles in funeral director businesses: contact person, designated individual and persons designate

A brief outline of the roles and responsibilities of those named individuals was provided.

Most members noted that their staff already go through basic Disclosure Scotland checks and in some instances go through credit and social media checks. For some funeral director contracts, including with Police Scotland, Disclosure checks are required. It was considered that to hold each of the identified roles the individual should be a ‘fit and proper person’. Members agreed with basic disclosure requirements, and thought positions of responsibility should have further requirements in place, potentially credit and protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) checks.

Some members queried if the further checks should be completed for the ‘person designated’ as these may be the lower pay ranged office staff which could potentially put off new recruits. The group agreed the ‘person designated’ would not be required to be present during all operational hours.

A question was raised on whether it would be appropriate to have a minimum level of accreditation, training, professional development or experience to hold the certain roles.

Action 7: Officials to further consider licensing roles in funeral director businesses

Any other business and date of next meeting

Members of the group were thanked for their attendance and input at the meeting.

The next meeting is still to be arranged and the secretariat will circulate some available dates. The meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams.

Action 8: Secretariat to circulate draft minutes, action points and discussion papers in advance of next meeting.

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