Procurator Fiscal and Coroner

Asbestos-related deaths



A Guide to Asbestos related deaths.pdf

Many of those who are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease are unaware that a past employer could be to blame for causing their condition by negligently exposing them to asbestos. This exposure may have occurred 40 years or more before diagnosis.

Most family members and dependants are unaware that the Procurator Fiscals’ duty to investigate deaths from ‘industrial disease’ may potentially involve contact with the Procurator Fiscal and the police if a loved one dies from, or is suspected of dying from, an asbestos-related disease.

Our online resources are available to those who may find themselves in this situation and are seeking information.  Our welfare rights officers are also available to bereaved family members to guide you through what can be a very strenuous period. We will answer any questions you may have or simply be a listening ear at the most difficult of times.


sf1Asbestos-related deaths



It is the duty of the Procurator Fiscal to investigate sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected and unexplained deaths when made aware of them. Specific categories of deaths must be further investigated by the Procurator Fiscal. These categories of deaths include those arising out of industrial diseases of the lungs, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer

The Procurator Fiscal has indicated where there has been a positive biopsy in life, diagnosing the industrial disease; it may be possible for the cause of death to be certified without the need for a Post Mortem, depending on what evidence of industrial disease was obtained during life.

CAA ensure, where possible, that families, particularly, those who have a family member with mesothelioma, are aware of the possible implications after death.  It is of course for those family members to decide whether they wish to pursue a claim for compensation

Without definitive evidence of mesothelioma, from either an in life biopsy or post mortem, it may be extremely difficult for dependants to receive any civil compensation for the death of their loved one.

meso pro forma scotland

meso pro forma scotland


Mesothelioma Pro Forma


In March 2014 the introduction of a New Mesothelioma Pro Forma was agreed between the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Chief Medical Officer.  It was devised with the aim of reducing distress caused to relatives when a person diagnosed with mesothelioma or suspected of having mesothelioma dies. Its intent is to distil information required by the PF through a structured consistent record, enabling the PF to make decisions expeditiously without always requiring a post-mortem to establish the facts required for a civil case for compensation to proceed.


eng & walesThe Role of the Coroner – England & Wales


A coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed and paid by the relevant local authority. A coroner must be a lawyer or a doctor, and in some cases is both. Each coroner has a deputy and usually one or more assistant deputies, and either personally or through a deputy, he or she must be available at all times.

The law requires that everyone’s death has to be registered, and the death certificate must contain not only the personal details, but also the medical cause of death.


A death must be reported to the Coroner if:


  • no doctor is able to provide a certificate, which conforms with the regulations, stating the cause of death, or
  • there are grounds for thinking the death may have been due to an injury or some unnatural cause, e.g. industrial disease


The Coroner has to carry out an enquiry into cases such as these to establish the cause of death, and this sometimes involves a post-mortem examination. Depending on the information he gets, the Coroner may decide either:


  • that an inquest is not required. He will then give details to the Registrar of Births and Deaths so that the death can be registered, or
  • that an inquest is necessary to find out the circumstances of the death. Registration cannot take place until the inquest has been held.


The Scottish Government and the DWP in England or Wales publish guidance which offers practical advice at a time of bereavement:




You can access further information and support for bereavement from NHS Inform


England or Waleseng & wales


GOV.UK guidance :


You can access  further information and support for bereavement from NHS Choices


uk flagsPosthumous applications for Compensation & Benefit


If a dependant has died from an asbestos-related disease, it may be possible (depending on which asbestos-related disease they died from) for you to make posthumous applications for benefit/compensation for the following:



There are time limits which apply to your right to pursue a posthumous claim for personal injury for the death of a dependant and there is normally a strict time limit of 12 months from the date of death in which to claim state (government) benefits/compensation.


Wills, Probate and Inheritance

Dealing with a deceased’s estate


When dealing with a deceased’s estate, you may have been told that you need legal authority before any money and other property, belonging to the deceased, can be released. It is often a bank, building society or insurance company that will ask for this.

You may also be asked for ‘confirmation’ by the Jobcentre Plus (DWP) if the deceased has an outstanding application to the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 or Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2008

More information on Wills, Probate & Inheritance


Bereavement & Other Benefits/Payments


There are also a number of other benefits/payments (which are not related to whether the sufferer died from an asbestos-related disease or not) which may be available to you. This could be financial assistance to help with the costs of a funeral for a loved one or additional benefits for a widow or widower.

The link below takes you through the help which may be available to you through the welfare system.  As always, however, our welfare rights team are available to you to answer your questions and assist with your applications for benefit.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Last reviewed: April 2019