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  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

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Brodies LLP fields nine solicitor advocates, including Christine O’Neill, who defended Transport Scotland at the Inner House of the Court of Session in a case concerning an alleged breach of public procurement rules. Other recommended individuals are Joyce Cullen and Iain Rutherford. Matthew Farrell and Charles Livingstone made partner in 2015, and Derek Stillie was appointed as a specialist sports law litigator.

Burness Paull’s team ‘gets results’ and has represented clients such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Wood Group and Stewart Milne Group. Gary Moffat is representing Vodafone in litigation that has UK-wide ramifications for all telecoms operators working under the Telecommunications Code. The ‘knowledgeable and charming’ Philip Rodney is recommended along with Joanna Fulton, Neil Smith and Colin Hulme.

CMSColin Hutton was lead adviser to the directors and shareholders of Braid Group in a groundbreaking case involving an interplay of bribery/corruption and future unfair prejudice remedies. In 2015, Pieter Bekker, Shona Frame and Robin Hutchison joined from Steptoe & Johnson LLP, MacRoberts LLP and Pinsent Masons LLP, respectively. Gemma Lampert relocated to Edinburgh from London. Lorna Sibbald left the firm. Hutton and Rob Wilson head the practice.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s expertise spans a wide range of areas, including corporate, health and safety, and product liability litigation. Craig Connal QC is defending Diageo Scotland Limited in a high-value group claim involving over 1,000 home owners across Central Scotland. Laura Cameron, Jim Cormack and Jacqueline Harris are other first-rate practitioners. Bruce Craig, who joined from Mackinnons, leads the Aberdeen litigation team.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s John MacKenzie is representing Ernst & Young in a $300m fraud investigation involving three offshore companies. ‘Very focused and determined lawyerElaine Brailsford and accredited commercial litigation specialist Barbara Bolton are also recommended.

Anderson Strathern’s diverse client base includes banks, football clubs and government departments. A group led by Katrina Lumsdaine recently acted for Rangers International Football Club (and its subsidiary) in a number of high-profile actions, including a claim brought by former chairman Charles Green. Fraser Geddes leads the team, which in 2015 handled three cases in the Supreme Court.

HBJ Gateley has seen an uptick in professional negligence, warranty claims and shareholder disputes. Elsewhere, the firm’s contentious banking work is on the increase. Practice head Simon Catto is one of four solicitor-advocates in the team, which houses other key names Stuart Clubb*, Gordon Steele and Alan Sinclair. Lynsey Walker is also recommended. *Since publication, Stuart Clubb has joined Shoosmiths.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s clients include SMEs, individuals, insurance companies and banks. Tim Edward recently successfully represented the trustees of Rex Procter & Partners Retirement Benefits Scheme in a professional negligence case against Scottish Widows. Edward’s team includes the ‘level-headedDouglas Blyth and Rona Hutchison. Frank Johnstone joined from McClure Naismith LLP in 2015.

Morton Fraser acts for public sector clients (including the Scottish government), listed companies, banks and high-net-worth individuals. Kenneth Carruthers has vast experience in commercial disputes, including public procurement matters. Solicitor advocate Richard McMeeken regularly appears before the Sheriff Courts and Court of Session. Maggie Moodie leads the team.

BTO Solicitors LLP’s workload spans areas such as banking and finance, renewable energy and construction. Grant Hunter, Tony Jones and Ross Campbell are representing HWEnergy in a dispute with Highland Council over a biomass heating contract. Robin Macpherson joined from Brodies LLP in 2015.

At Balfour+Manson LLP, Elaine Motion’s team includes dual-qualified partner Gordon Deane, who has a particular specialism in claims against banks over mis-sold interest rate hedging products. David Flint handles contract and partnership disputes, professional negligence, among other matters. David Short is also recommended.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP has recently represented Chinese corporates in a number of high-value matters. Hazel Moffat is defending Sinopec at the Court of Session in a £150m action brought by a Norwegian former manager of an oil rig located in the North Sea. Moffat co-heads the practice with arbitration law expert Alistair Drummond.

In 2015, Harper Macleod LLP expanded significantly in Edinburgh; E-Ming Fong, John McHugh and Suzanne McGarrigle joined from McClure Naismith LLP. In addition, Jennifer Jack arrived from DWF. The firm also serves clients from its Glasgow and Inverness offices. Rod McKenzie’s team acts for clients such as Santander and Optical Express, and also has a strong public sector following. David Kerr is ‘a rising star’ and Sandy Hastie is ‘as good as it gets for commercial litigation’.

Julie Hamilton’s group at MacRoberts LLP is experienced in conducting matters before the Sheriff Courts and Court of Session. Gillian Craig’s caseload includes matters involving directors’ disqualifications, high-value contractual disputes, banking litigation and professional negligence. Leon Breakey is also recommended.

Clyde & Co LLP launched in Scotland following its merger with Simpson & Marwick in October 2015, and bolstered its offering in commercial and insurance litigation. Peter Anderson’s team includes Charles McGregor, who is experienced in shareholder disputes and professional negligence (including professional discipline) cases. Gavin Henderson and Andrew Constable are other names to note.

DWF handles contentious matters in areas such as food and drink, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and energy. Euan McSherry and others are defending Pfizer in a product liability case originally involving 80 litigants. Brent Haywood and Jennifer Jack departed for Lindsays and Harper Macleod LLP, respectively.

Gilson Gray’s Iain Clark specialises in high-value international arbitration, particularly in areas such as construction, renewables, and oil and gas. Steven Jansch undertakes insolvency-related litigation, while Alex Garioch is recommended for contentious construction matters. Garioch, Rosie Walker and five other fee-earners joined from Morisons LLP in 2015.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP’s Aberdeen office handles oil and gas related disputes, as well as contentious construction and insolvency matters. The firm’s Edinburgh office mainly deals with insurance and commercial contract disputes. Graeme Edward’s team includes Sarah Stuart, John Chalmers and Timothy Thomas.

Douglas Millar leads Lindsays’ team, which handles disputes across a wide range of sectors, including real estate, healthcare and education. Paul Harper handled a dispute with HMRC over levy payments. Brent Haywood joined from DWF.

MBM Commercial has ‘a strong reputation for taking on cases for the little guy’, bringing and defending actions against major banks and financial institutions. In 2015, Cat Maclean successfully represented the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court case of Royal Bank of Scotland v Carlyle, in which the bank was held to be in breach of a contractual promise to lend. Iain McDougall has ‘a sharp mind’.

At Stronachs LLP, Aberdeen-based practice head Robert McDonald is experienced in domestic and international arbitration, and various other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Robert McDiarmid handles commercial disputes within the construction and energy sectors. Colin Sandilands is a key name in Inverness.

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Legal Developments in Scotland for Commercial litigation

  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

    - Macfarlanes

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