Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Procurator Fiscal Definition:

Scots law: the prosecutor who acts on behalf of the state in criminal prosecutions.

Related Terms: Lord Advocate, District Attorney

flag of ScotlandThe equivalent in the law of Scotland to a Crown counsel (Canada) or district attorney (USA).

According to the Law Society of Scotland's 1992 Glossary, the procurator fiscal is:

"An officer appointed as his agent by the Lord Advocate to act within a sheriffdom as public prosecutor...."

Offices of the procurator fiscal are in every major centre of Scotland. It is this office which receives and reviews reports from the local police and decide whether there is enough evidence to press criminal charges. If so, the procurator fiscal details the charge or indictment.

According to the Health and Safety Executive office of the United Kingdom:

"Procurators Fiscal are civil servants qualified as Solicitors, Solicitor-Advocates, or Advocates and are independent prosecutors, constitutionally responsible to the Lord Advocate. They receive and consider reports from the Police and over 40 other agencies and decide whether or not to raise criminal proceedings in the public interest. The Procurators Fiscal (and Procurators Fiscal Depute) prosecute all criminal cases in the sheriff courts.

"In addition to their role in prosecuting crime the Procurator Fiscal has a responsibility to investigate all sudden, suspicious, and unexplained deaths in Scotland. In particular this includes all deaths resulting from an accident in the course of employment or occupation; this results in a Fatal Accident Inquiry unless the death results from natural causes. Decisions on whether to hold Fatal Accident Inquiries are usually taken by Advocates Depute."

REFERENCES:

  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services website (as of April 4, 2011): www.copfs.gov.uk
  • Law Society of Scotland, Glossary: Scottish Legal Terms, Latin Maxims and European Community Legal Terms (Edinburgh: Butterworths, 1992), page 70

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