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Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011

The aims of the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011 [PDF, 98.96 kb], which received Royal Assent on April 20, 2011, are to:

  • Introduce a single system of independent, effective scrutiny applicable to deaths that do not require a Procurator Fiscal investigation
  • Improve the quality and accuracy of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death (MCCDs)
  • Provide improved public health information and strengthened clinical governance in relation to deaths

The new death certification system commenced on May 13, 2015.

What the legislation does

The legislation creates the role of Medical Reviewers and a national Senior Medical Reviewer whose primary functions are to conduct reviews of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death (MCCDs).

They also have a role in providing training, guidance and support to doctors who certify the cause of death and they liaise with other persons and bodies with a view to improving the accuracy of these certificates.

Information on whether the body contains a pacemaker or other devices which it would be hazardous to cremate will be provided through the revised MCCD form.

In the case of deaths abroad where the body is brought to Scotland for the funeral, medical reviewers are able to assist with the process of repatriation and arranging a post mortem examination (including providing funding) if no cause of death is available.