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In Scotland, legal innovation

English authorities take note. For it is Scotland that is leading the way in legal innovation.

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23 July 2014 / legal-blog

English authorities take note. For it is Scotland that is leading the way in legal innovation.

The Scottish government recently announced that it was looking to overhaul fatal accident inquiries (FAIs).

According to the Herald, the Scottish government plans to create three specialist accident inquiry centres to aid investigations into sudden and accidental deaths.

Families that previously had to undergo often lengthy and at times unsympathetic inquiries following an incident like this would now be able to take their care to a dedicated legal professional trained at dealing with such cases.

Another potential benefit of the new centres will be speedier courts. By taking FAIs out of sheriff courts, the new centres would reduce the pressure on this part of the judiciary, having a positive ripple effect on the wider courts system.

But the greatest innovation is not linked to speed or where the case will be heard. It is to do with respect.

People who have lost a family member deserve respect and compassion and this is what the Scottish government’s proposal will inject into the current system.

In England, personal injury victims (and even their families) continue to be vilified in the media. Just this weekend, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling repeated to The Daily Telegraph claims of a compensation culture.

Speaking to the newspaper, Grayling said he wanted to “slay [the] health and safety culture”.

Yet it is sub-standard health and safety provision that can lead to a high proportion of the fatal accidents that Scotland’s new accident centres will seek to address.

Rather than engaging in finger pointing, it is high time for the English authorities to start treating genuine injury victims and their families respect and compassion they deserve.

The Scottish authorities have taken action to find innovative ways to deal with the most complicated and distressing of cases. When will their English and Welsh counterparts follow suit?

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