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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Scotland > Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Commercial litigation
  2. Hall of Fame
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Hall of Fame

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Who Represents Who

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Brodies LLP is ‘a firm that simply gets it; it sees things from the client’s perspective’. Its first-rate commercial litigation team features 11 solicitor advocates (two of whom act as Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish government) and also has strong alternative dispute resolution (ADR) capabilities. The group was further strengthened by the addition of David Arnott, and associates Chris Duff and Sara Lannigan; all three individuals joined from MacRoberts LLP. The group handles complex, high-value and high-profile disputes across a wide variety of areas, including construction, competition and EU law, shipping, local government and banking. The ‘magnificentJoyce Cullen, who has ‘the charm and diplomacy of a UN ambassador’, worked with ‘smart and quick-wittedIain Rutherford and senior solicitor Fiona Chute in an ongoing shareholders dispute at the Court of Session for the majority shareholders of a global logistics company. Interserve, NVT Group and Scottish Enterprise are other key clients. Practice head Stephen Goldie is ‘an excellent operator with a commercial and pragmatic approach’. Ken MacDonald, Manus Quigg and Louise Shiels are other names to note.

Burness Paull LLP’s team combines ‘first-class legal knowledge’ with ‘an excellent rapport with its clients’, providing ‘clear, targeted advice’ to Scottish, UK and international businesses. The practice acts in some of the most complex, high-stakes matters in court and at arbitration, with a particular strength in cases involving a cross-border/international component; in an illustration of its ability to handle multi-jurisdictional disputes, Gary Moffat is acting for US-based Ted Jacob Engineering Group in a claim concerning the sale of an engineering business in Dubai, while Ewan McIntyre, director Will Cole and senior solicitor Fiona Davidson are representing Ion Beam Services in a £10m cross-border dispute arising from the client’s supply of a refurbished ion implanter. The firm also fields a heavyweight offshore oil and gas disputes practice led by Aberdeen-based Neil Smith; he successfully represented Axon Well Intervention Services at the Court of Session. Also recommended are experienced property litigator Alan McMillan, intellectual property expert Colin Hulme, recently promoted partner Steven Guild and senior associate Neeraj Thomas. The ‘charming’ Philip Rodney, who is chairman of the firm, has more than 30 years of commercial litigation experience and is also recommended.

CMSconsistently performs to an exceptional standard’. Led by Colin Hutton, who provides ‘exceptional tactical advice to clients’, the disputes practice acts for a range of domestic, UK and international clients, including banks, developers, insurance companies and public bodies, with particular strength in energy and financial services disputes, although it also handles a broader workload encompassing areas such as life sciences and telecommunications. In 2016, Alison Gow acted for SSE in a Court of Session appeal of a judicial review related to the Stronelairg wind farm. Enquest, Schlumberger and Nucana Biomed are other key clients. Other key figures include Harriet Munro, Mark Kirke and Shona Frame, who specialise in construction disputes; Graeme MacLeod, Rob Wilson, Gemma Lampert, Valerie Allan and Jan Burgess; and Emma Boffey, who is ‘extremely diligent and a pleasure to work with’.

Laura Cameron leads the team at Pinsent Masons LLP, which has a breadth and depth of expertise that covers a range of disputes including product liability, intellectual property, health and safety, banking litigation and other types of financial services disputes. The firm’s footprint across Scotland, as well as further afield nationally and internationally, adds another dimension to the practice, making it a go-to firm for blue-chip clients in cases of the utmost significance and complexity. Craig Connal QC and senior associate Fiona MacGregor are defending Diageo Scotland in a test case for a group of households in which it is alleged that ethanol released from the client’s whisky maturation process caused the creation of a black fungus, which resulted in damage to properties throughout central Scotland. In another highlight, Jim Cormack (‘one of the big beasts of Scottish litigation’) and senior associate Laura Crilly defended the Falkland Islands government against a claim brought by a Canadian company concerning alleged copyright infringement of seismic data. Other key figures include legal director David Woods, who hash particular experience in disputes for financial services, energy and retail companies, as well as universities; Joanne Gillies, who is noted for ‘developing strategies that covers off different possible angles’; Jacqueline Harris; and Aberdeen-based Bruce Craig.

Shepherd and Wedderburn has a ‘top-drawer’ commercial litigation practice that covers a broad range of areas, including professional negligence, construction and commercial disputes, as well as niche areas such as pensions litigation. Its heavyweight team features three solicitor advocates: John MacKenzie, Iain Drummond and Kevin Clancy all have a wealth of experience in Court of Session litigation. In 2016, Elaine Brailsford (‘a strong lawyer with good interpersonal skills’) acted for Tor in a $65m damages claim against Chinese state-owned entity China National Star Petroleum for breach of a contract to repair and manage an oil rig. In another key matter, Barbara Bolton (who is ‘particularly good at managing clients and their expectations’) is representing UK Asset Resolution as the pursuer in a number of professional negligence actions against a firm of solicitors and a firm of surveyors in connection with buy-to-let mortgages arranged before the 2008 financial crisis. Gillian Carty leads the team, whose other clients include Ernst & Young, Capital Document Solutions and TROUW (UK).

Anderson Strathern represents private sector organisations in commercial litigation, arbitration and other types of dispute resolution, including mediation. It also has a particularly strong public sector following; the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), HMRC and the Scottish Prison Service are all key clients on the public-sector side. The firm also acts for the Scottish government, as well as regulatory bodies such as the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Court Service. Fraser Geddes leads the team, which includes senior associate Dominic Scullion, who became one of the youngest solicitor advocates in Scotland in 2016, and Katrina Lumsdaine, who led the representation of Andritz Gouda as a third party in Court of Session litigation arising from a £2m manufacturing dispute. Geddes and senior associate Gillian Jamieson are acting for SSE as the pursuer in a claim centred on damage to a high-voltage electricity cable during the refurbishment of a care home. The firm’s acquisition of litigation practice ADLP Solicitors in 2016 brought with it founder Alistair Dean, who is noted for his expertise in construction disputes. Jonathan Guy, Fiona Stephen and firm chairman Robert Carr are also recommended.

BTO Solicitors LLP’s sizeable team includes 14 solicitor advocates, four qualified mediators and an appointed adjudicator. The group handles a broad cross-section of contentious matters, including banking and commercial disputes, oil and gas matters, professional negligence, and contentious construction and sports law issues. Tony Jones, who has been involved in more than 40 reported decisions, is acting for Community Windpower as the pursuer in litigation arising from the allegedly defective construction of a 16-turbine wind farm. Jones co-heads the practice with Grant Hunter. Bill Speirs has experience of cross-border disputes and a track record in commercial and insurance litigation dating back to the early 1980s. Paul Motion heads the data protection and intellectual property teams and manages disputes related to commercial contracts and renewable energy. Dorothy Hatfield and recently promoted partner David Young are also recommended.

Clients rate Harper Macleod LLP’s commercial litigation practice as ‘excellent in all respects’ and single out its ‘great strength in depth’ in sectors such as energy, real estate and construction, and banking and finance. It has particular specialism in public-sector litigation and sports-related disputes, for which it acts for sporting organisations such as Ryder Cup Europe, sportscotland and Scottish Professional Football League. Rod McKenzie, who heads the practice, defended Hibernian FC in disciplinary proceedings brought by the Scottish Football Association after its fans had invaded the pitch in the aftermath of the Scottish Cup Final in 2016. Jennifer Jack is representing the nan Eilean Siar Council in an appeal of a judicial review of the procurement of a regeneration project in the Outer Herbrides. David Kerr is handling seven connected appeals at the Tax Tribunal where the central issue is whether or not HMRC can unilaterally amend a taxpayer’s VAT returns without assessment. Sandy Hastie, E-Ming Fong and associate Laura McCorquodale are also recommended.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLPdelivers advice promptly, and with a commercial edge’. The Scotland-based practice’s wide-ranging workload encompasses areas such as construction, professional negligence and tax, on a domestic as well as UK-wide level through collaboration with the firm’s London office. In addition, the firm’s membership of the Lex Mundi network sees it regularly undertake cases with an international flavour. Douglas Blyth (who is ‘good with clients’) and Craig Kennedy acted for Hooley Limited at the Court of Session in Hooley Limited v The Victoria Jute Company, in which it was decided that foreign insolvencies are ancillary to Scottish administration proceedings. In another matter, Tim Edward defended French surgical manufacturer Cousin Biotech against eight product liability actions at the Court of Session connected with defects in pelvic mesh implants. Ewan Easton is another key figure with a strong reputation in property litigation, tax and pensions disputes, contentious partnership issues and media law. Gareth Hale and Rona Hutchison are also highly regarded, as is Aberdeen-based Malcolm Gunnyeon, whose expertise covers disputes related to the oil and gas sector, and health and safety matters.

MacRoberts LLP has a strong track record in commercial actions before the Sheriff Court and Court of Session, with particular experience in professional negligence and insurance disputes, contentious insolvency proceedings, and procurement and energy-related issues. In 2016, practice head Julie Hamilton and senior associate Lynsay Cargill acted for medical equipment supplier Boston Scientific in Court of Session litigation initiated by the client following its unsuccessful bid for an NHS framework agreement. Gillian Craig and Angus Wood are representing The Football Company (Scotland) in its claim for reparation from Glasgow City Council due to damage caused to its advertising boards at the Scottish Cup Final in 2016, following a pitch invasion. Other key team members include Leon Breakey, who heads the debt recovery practice and handles a range of commercial disputes; associate Sophia Harrison, who is also qualified as a barrister in England and Wales; and Gavin Thomson, who joined from Pinsent Masons LLP and specialises in construction disputes. David Arnott and two associates departed for Brodies LLP and Richard Barrie moved to Levy & McRae.

Morton Fraser’s rounded practice handles a wide range of contentious matters for large corporates, banks and high-net-worth individuals. In 2016, ‘pragmatic, responsive and commercial’ practice head Richard McMeeken successfully defended Stewart Milne Group against an interim interdict application brought by a landowner who sought to stop the client from continuing with a £250m property development. Tesco Stores Limited, Schuh and Standard Life are other clients. The firm also undertakes a significant amount of work for public sector entities, such as the Scottish government, Ministry of Defence, NHS Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council. Kenneth Carruthers, who has more than 25 years of experience in commercial litigation, has a strong track record in public procurement disputes and professional negligence actions. Also recommended are Maggie Moodie, Douglas Milne, and recently promoted partner Nicola Ross.

Addleshaw Goddard, which established its presence in Scotland through its merger with HBJ Gateley, has a multifaceted practice covering mainstream commercial disputes, banking litigation and contentious real estate and insolvency work. Simon Catto leads the team, which undertakes cases ranging from small disputes to high-value actions at the Sherriff Court and Court of Session. Catto is currently acting for Ensco 374 in a breach of warranty claim arising from its acquisition of Screw Conveyor Limited. In another matter, Joan Devine, who joined the firm from Anderson Strathern, handled two professional negligence claims for a bank made against surveyors for allegedly negligent overvaluations. Another notable individual is Gordon Steele, who represents pursuers and defenders in a range of matters, including contractual disputes involving issues of unjust enrichment and misrepresentation. Recently promoted partner Lynsey Walker is also recommended. Stuart Clubb departed for Shoosmiths. Other clients include BT, Murray International Holdings and First Title Insurance.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP acts for clients based in Scotland, the UK and internationally on a varied workload, including public procurement challenges, mainstream commercial litigation, construction disputes, insurance litigation and banking-related cases, as well as health and safety litigation. Alistair Drummond and associate Grant McLarty are working with the London office on The FA Premier League’s application for an interim interdict to prevent the illegal broadcast of English Premier League matches by pubs across the UK. Drummond is also defending the Scottish Funding Council against a damages action arising from a workplace accident. Illustrative of the firm’s strengths in matters of reputational significance, Hazel Moffat and others assisted Sinopec with the successful settlement of Court of Session litigation brought by a Norwegian former manager of an oil rig. Other clients include Airbus Helicopters, Heineken UK and the Scottish Police Authority.

DWF’s team handles high-stakes contentious commercial work for a sizeable roster of large Scottish and UK corporates, as well as global organisations, active in sectors such as food and drink, energy, retail, financial services, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. Scottish Power, Marks & Spencer and Jaguar Land Rover are longstanding clients of the practice, and the firm also recently won work from Telefonica and JD Sports, among others. Euan McSherry, who is a solicitor advocate and accredited mediator, leads the group, whose expertise includes shareholders’ disputes and contentious issues arising from commercial contracts, as well as procurement, insolvency and product liability. McSherry is working with associates Emma Forrester and Philip Knight on behalf of Pfizer in three test cases at the Court of Session concerning allegations that its heart drugs have caused heart attacks and strokes. Elsewhere, McSherry and Forrester are part of a multi-disciplinary team that is representing Braid Group in litigation brought by a minority shareholder seeking to compel the client to acquire his shares in the company. The group is also representing a subsidiary of Braid Group in separate litigation where the same pursuer is seeking to prevent his removal as a director of that entity.

Clients of Balfour+Manson LLP single out its ‘outstanding case management’. The practice’s workload encompasses assists clients with contract and partnership disputes, banking litigation, shareholder disputes, professional negligence cases and contentious regulatory matters. Gordon Deane, who heads the practice and is dual-qualified in English and Scottish law, ‘handles clients well and does not create false expectations’. He is frequently instructed by Scotland-based clients to manage disputes in England and is growing his workload for pursuers in claims against banks, including matters involving mis-sold interest rate hedging products. Also recommended are the ‘careful and conscientiousDavid McIntosh, who is ‘very commercial and realistic in his approach to matters’; Fiona Muirs, who is ‘always willing and able to address the hard issues’; and David Flint, Elaine Motion and David Short.

Clyde & Co LLP has a standout reputation in insurance litigation, and also handles contentious commercial matters that are not insurance-related. Team head Peter Anderson is experienced in employers’ liability and product liability matters, as well as aviation litigation. Another name to note is Charles McGregor, whose expertise includes shareholders disputes and professional negligence cases. Andrew Constable, whose ‘wide-ranging experience makes him highly insightful’, recently represented engineering contractor Hochtief Solutions in litigation arising from the collapse of a hydroelectric dam; he also handled separate associated litigation for Andritz Hydro, who were the sub-contractor on the same scheme. Gavin Henderson is also recommended.

Gilson Gray acts for clients in a wide variety of general commercial disputes, as well as in contentious construction and insolvency matters. In addition to commercial litigation, the firm is active in domestic and international arbitrations; team head Iain Clark specialises in arbitral disputes involving the energy sector (oil and gas, and renewables), as well as construction and engineering. In an illustration of its capacity to handle multi-jurisdictional disputes, Clark (who is also a solicitor advocate) acted for sportswear importer and distributor Wilson Imports as the pursuer in a contractual dispute with a French company at the Court of Session. Also recommended are solicitor advocates Alex Garioch (who is ‘clever and articulate’, according to clients) and Steven Jansch, who is ‘tenacious, even when faced with an uphill battle’; the ‘very astute’ Rosie Walker; and associate Keith Anderson, who is ‘just what a client could wish for’.

Although Ledingham Chalmers LLP’s team has a particularly strong track record in energy-related commercial disputes (oil and gas as well as renewable energy), it also handles work involving other industries, including construction and agriculture. The practice handles a wide range of contentious issues, including enforcement of restrictive covenants, shareholder disputes and directors’ duties. The group also has experience of ex-parte applications for orders under section one of the Administration of Justice (Scotland) Act 1972 (dawn raids), where it acts for applicants and also parties defending actions raised under the provision. John Chalmers, who practises in Edinburgh, has nearly 30 years of experience handling litigation before the Sheriff Court and Court of Session, with particular emphasis on acting for local authorities and insurance-sector clients. Team head Sarah Stuart, Timothy Thomas and senior associate Rebecca Walker are the key contacts in Aberdeen. Inverness-based senior associate Karen Cameron qualified as a solicitor advocate in 2016.

Lindsays handles a wide range of matters, including professional negligence cases, banking litigation, procurement challenges, company and partnership disputes, and contentious real estate work. Brent Haywood, who is a solicitor advocate and accredited mediator, has more than 25 years of experience of dispute resolution. John Bett is acting as the lead adviser to McGivney Construction in its claim for damages against a former director for an alleged breach of his duties. Paul Harper and senior solicitor Jane Rattray are representing the University of Edinburgh in 13 separate court actions under the Telecommunications Act against several mobile network operators, and are also representing the client at the Inner House of the Court of Session in a dispute arising from its decision to suspend a student. Other key figures include Douglas Millar, who leads the team, Iain Penman, and Paul Harper.

For some, MBM Commercial is ‘the go-to firm’ for individuals and SMEs bringing and defending claims against banks and other financial institutions, including matters involving alleged breaches of personal guarantees and negligent mis-selling of financial products; it has ‘carved out a niche for itself that other firms would envy’. Practice head Cat Maclean, who is a solicitor advocate, is ‘a leading voice’ in this space; his recent highlights include successfully settling a long-running, high-profile breach of contract claim against the Royal Bank of Scotland for Derek Carlyle. The firm also handles various matters for commercial lenders, including repossession cases and professional negligence claims. Maclean has ‘a never-say-die attitude’ and ‘really fights her clients’ corner’. Also recommended are ‘excellent’ associates Iain McDougall – who is ‘effective and pragmatic in settlement discussions’ – and Lynne Arnott. Liina Tulk joined Wallace LLP.

Stronachs LLP has a particular focus on representing businesses in the energy, construction, agriculture and food and drink industries. The firm handles Scottish court litigation and matters at the English High Court, and also assists clients with arbitrations (domestic and international) and mediation. Practice head Robert McDonald, who is based in Aberdeen, has 36 years of experience in dispute resolution and is a solicitor advocate. Another key individual in Aberdeen is senior associate Robert McDiarmid, who is dual-qualified in England and Wales, as well as Scotland. Solicitor advocate Colin Sandilands, who heads the Inverness office, is defending Denmark-based Johansens & Co against a £2m breach of warranty claim at the Court of Session, a multi-jurisdictional dispute which also involves parties based in Belgium and Scotland.

In 2016, Aberdein Considine expanded its commercial litigation offering into the England and Wales market with its takeover of Wallers, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. It also bolstered its practice in Scotland with the acquisition of A&S Ireland in Glasgow. Rob Aberdein leads the group, which includes Leonie Donald, who obtained the Signet Accreditation in 2015, becoming one of 21 commercial litigators in Scotland to hold such an award. Other key partners include Paul McIntosh and Ross Webb. The practice handles a wide range of matters, including shareholder disputes and disputes arising from directors duties, professional negligence, banking litigation, contentious insolvency and construction disputes. Highlights included advising Lloyds Banking Group on one of the largest mortgages fraud trials in Scottish history, the outcome of which affected 48 properties. Other banking clients include Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander. The firm also acted for PMAC Inspections in a complex cross-border dispute, which involved a claim for the recovery of oil and gas monitoring equipment leased to a company and used in Nigeria, as well as a claim for unpaid rental and a shareholders dispute.

Davidson Chalmers LLP’s ‘efficient and reliable’ team handles shareholder and director disputes, issues of contractual interpretation, professional negligence claims (including cases against solicitors and engineers) and contentious real estate matters. The firm is particularly active for SME clients, including Scottish family-owned and owner-managed businesses, as well as the healthcare sector, where the group manages partnership-related issues and contractual disputes. Practice head Sheila Webster, who has more than 20 years of commercial litigation experience, is a qualified mediator. Webster and highly regarded associate Greg Flett recently acted for director Allan Murray and Allan Murray Architects in an unfair prejudice claim brought by another director and minority shareholder of the company. Alba Energy, Knight Frank and Straid Farms are also clients.

Commercial litigation boutique Halliday Campbell WS advises on contentious issues arising from various types of commercial agreements, including joint venture and consumer credit agreements. It also manages disputes associated with breaches of directors’ duties, shareholder actions and corporate governance. Other areas of strength include contentious insolvency, IP/IT and property. David Halliday and assistant Lynn McMahon are both Signet-accredited specialists in commercial litigation. Notwithstanding its size, the team is frequently instructed in high-value cases for clients active in sectors such as construction, retail and telecommunications.

Shoosmiths’ wide-ranging practice covers commercial contracts and shareholders’ disputes, banking litigation, health and safety disputes, professional negligence claims and insolvency work. Solicitor advocate Stuart Clubb, joined the firm in 2016 from HBJ Gateley, succeeding Graham Reid as practice head, following the latter’s move to Charles Wood & Son. Recent highlights include acting for a residential property developer in a professional negligence claim against a firm of surveyors, and representing a high-street bank in litigation arising from an alleged breach of a personal guarantee by a company director. Wella UK, Calor Gas and Screwfix Direct are notable clients of the practice. Rod Macphail, Andrew Foyle and associate Ben Zielinski are recommended.

TLT handles court litigation for clients in sectors such as energy, financial services, retail and consumer goods, and leisure. Greene King Plc, Barclays Bank and Punch Taverns are among the firm’s active clients. Tom McEntegart leads the team, which includes John Paul Sheridan, an expert in financial services litigation and professional negligence claims against solicitors, surveyors and architects. Other notable individuals include insolvency specialist Alan Munro and Tony Reynolds. Louise Chopra was recently promoted to legal director.

Thorntons Law LLP’s team, which is led by Gillian Buchanan, acts for clients located throughout the UK on a wide range of high-value, complex matters. The firm also generates work through its membership of the MSI global network; it is currently collaborating with Indian firm RNClegal to assist 10 Design with recovering €500,000 from directors who had entered into personal guarantees on behalf of a distressed Indian company. John Kydd, Scott Milne, Anne McKeown, Ronnie Murphy is another key individual in the team. The group is also able to call upon the expertise of members of ancillary disciplines, such as corporate and intellectual property, to provide comprehensive legal support. Anne Miller made associate in 2016.

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