The Act has only 10 Sections, and its Rules are also very short. Briefly, the Act provides as follows:

(a) Sections 1 to 3 - Application of the Act Mandatory inquiries apply to deaths arising . from the course of employment or of persons in legal custody. Section 1(1 )(a). ‘Discretionary’ inquiries are held where it appears to the Lord Advocate ‘to be expedient in the public interest’ to hold such an inquiry into deaths which are ‘sudden, suspicious or unexplained’ or which have occurred ‘in circumstances such as to give rise to serious public concern’. The ‘medical FAIs’ largely fall into the last category, although police surgeons and prison medical officers may be involved in deaths of those in custody, including suicides. (b) When a relevant death is reported to the Procurator Fiscal, he will wherever possible instruct a post-mortem: thereafter he will take steps to recover documentation

including, where appropriate, hospital and general practi­ tioner records. He will also obtain statements known as ‘precognitions’ from witnesses, and it should be noted that the Fiscal has the power to cite witnesses for precog­ nition, under penalty of fine or imprisonment. Section 2. Having concluded his investigation the Fiscal then submits a report to Crown Office where, in the case of a ‘discretionary’ inquiry, the decision is taken as to whether or not a Fatal Accident Inquiry should be held. Whilst the decision remains one for Crown Office, consid­ erable weight is given to the views of the deceased’s family or next of kin.