Lord Cullen to review law on fatal accident inquiries

THE law on fatal accident inquiries (FAIs) is to be reviewed for the first time in over 30 years, it was announced yesterday.

The revision will be led by the retired senior judge Lord Cullen, who held public inquiries into the Piper Alpha oil platform explosion, the Dunblane school massacre, and the Ladbroke Grove train crash in London.

The move was announced by Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, and the review is expected to take up to a year.

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It will consider whether fatal accident inquiries (FAIs) should stay within the sheriff court structure, and how they should fit with others like Health and Safety Executive inquiries.

"Though we believe the system works well and has served Scotland well, concerns have been raised about it in recent years," said Mr MacAskill.

In particular there are concerns about delays and about monitoring how sheriffs' recommendations progress.

Among the issues to be studied in the review are legal representation for bereaved families, use of expert evidence, and whether there should be inquir-ies into all Scots deaths abroad.