Fatal Accident Inquiries

Such an inquiry should be progressed expeditiously and efficiently. We will prioritise applications for Fatal Accident Inquiries and help you with them if needed. To do this, we need you and your client’s assistance.

Tell your client about the availability of civil legal aid and begin the process as soon as possible so that the application is ready to be submitted after the First Notice is received.

At the preliminary hearing, the sheriff will expect to hear from you about the progress that has been made with regard to applying for civil legal aid and on occasion from us. Remind your client of the need to provide all necessary financial information

FAI cases where multiple family members applying for legal aid

If more than one member of a family is applying for legal aid you need to explain why this is necessary. This applies to all FAI’s including deaths in custody where you know that requests for such representation will be made.

FAIs for deaths in prison or police custody

Statutory test: probable cause

Probable cause is established if your client falls within the category of ‘persons entitled to be represented’, at the Fatal Accident Inquiry, as a relative of the deceased or as a potential defender.

Statutory test: reasonableness

If your client is the relative of a person who died in prison or police custody we will look favourably on the application (subject to there not being more than one request from a family member).  It is appropriate for relatives to have their own independent representation at the inquiry to determine the facts.

All other Fatal Accident Inquiries

Statutory test: probable cause

We consider that probable cause can be established if your client falls within the category of persons entitled to be notified of a Fatal Accident.

Statutory test: reasonableness

To allow us to assess whether the test of reasonableness is met you should tell us:

  • Why you think your client needs separate legal representation at the inquiry, in addition to the role of the Crown
  • Any potential areas of dispute with the Crown in relation to the approach taken to the inquiry or the evidence to be led
  • Any areas of concern in relation to any other party involved in the inquiry that might result in the need for representation
  • Any areas of inquiry your client wants to pursue which will not be addressed by the Crown or should be pursued in a different way
  • Why you consider these different areas of inquiry are appropriate and reasonable to be taken forward at the inquiry
  • Any other relevant factors

In some cases, we may need to see copies of the correspondence you have had with the Crown or, through you, request that specific points are clarified by them.

We will not consider the test of reasonableness to be met where your client is seeking representation to identify and gather information that might support a reparation claim.

You should provide information focussed on issues such as whether your client requires representation to protect their legal position against self-incrimination or avoiding any further proceedings.

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