Search court cases and case law in the UK


Fatal Accident Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Michael Dodds


In his written determination following a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of a man in an Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit, the Sheriff set out the purpose of the inquiry, as well as its limitations. He explained that its primary purpose is to air in public the circumstances of the death in order to explain its cause or causes. It also allows an inquiry into, first, whether any reasonable steps could or should have been taken whereby the death would or could have been avoided, and, secondly, whether there were any defects in any system of working which contributed to the death. He stated, however, that the limitations of the inquiry should also be noted: the purpose is to find facts, not to find fault. In many cases, the latter is achieved through later litigation where the normal rules apply of advance notice in writing of each party's case and control of the manner evidence is presented to the court. The Sheriff commented that it is not uncommon for a deceased's family to be disappointed that blame has not been apportioned by the sheriff in his determination and, although this is perhaps understandable, it is often due to a misunderstanding of the true purposes of the inquiry.The Sheriff went on to say that a common problem with fatal accident inquiries is that one or more of the interested parties is anxious to leave no stone unturned to ensure that every possible circumstance surrounding the death is aired in evidence. Sometimes that is warranted; sometimes it is not. The Sheriff expressed gratitude to the parties involved in the inquiry for the manner in which they represented their various interests.