Management of burial grounds, application for burial, exhumation, private burial and restoration of lairs - regulation: consultation analysis

Analysis report of our consultation on the management of burial grounds, application for burial, exhumation, private burial and restoration of lairs in Scotland.


The Burial and Cremation Review Group was established in 2005 and made recommendations on how the law relating to burial and cremation could be changed in order to better serve the needs of the people of Scotland. At this time, the legislation around burial had not been substantially revised or amended since the nineteenth century.

The Group’s recommendations were published in 2007 and the passing of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 (‘the 2016 Act’) repealed the antiquated primary and secondary legislation, and replaced it with a consolidated Act covering burial, cremation and other forms of body disposal.

The 2016 Act gives Scottish Ministers the power to, among other things, establish an inspection regime for burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors and to make regulations for various aspects of burial in Scotland.

The purpose of this consultation was to seek views from the public and those within the funeral sector on the Scottish Government’s specific proposals to modernise the legislation governing burial. The proposals set out in the consultation are considered essential to address emerging challenges and societal need. Amongst other things, they seek to address sustainability concerns through the proposals on the restoration of lairs for reuse, to establish proper records and legal clarity on private (home) burial, to streamline the exhumation process and to improve overall management and maintenance of burial grounds.

These significant and wide-ranging reforms aim to bring consistency to burial practices across Scotland. Improvements in record keeping, administrative processes and public communications intend to bring enhanced transparency and accountability to the sector, resulting in a better experience for the bereaved and the wider community.

The burial regulations are intended to be a foundational first step. Further improvements in standards intend to be made in a Burial Code of Practice as provided for in section 21 of the 2016 Act.



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