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Ampersand Advocates, Aidan O’Neill QC, Edinburgh, SCOTLAND

Aidan O’Neill QC

Work 0131 226 5071
Ampersand Advocates


Aidan O’Neill QC is dual-qualified.  He is a barrister in practice in England and Wales, and a leading member of the Scottish bar.   He has a wide ranging European law/public law practice both north and south of the board.  He is a specialist in EU law, human rights and constitutional law.  His expert legal advice is regularly sought, particularly on the impact of EU law on other areas of UK law, including on charity law, employment law, environmental law, equality law, private international law, public procurement, and trade law.  He has argued cases as senior counsel before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the House of Lords and on numerous occasions before the UK Supreme Court.  Among his more recent cases are: Shindler v. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 24 May [2016] UKSC 2016/0105 [2016] EWCA Civ 469 [2016] EWHC (Admin) 957 challenge to the EU and common law constitutional compatibility of the exclusion from the Brexit referendum franchise of British citizens who had exercised their EU free movement and citizenship rights to live outside the UK for more than 15 years; Christian Institute and others v. Lord Advocate [2016] UKSC 51 [2015] CSIH 64, [2015] CSOH 7 - judicial review on whether or not the “named person service” provisions in Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 were within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament and compatible with EU and Convention law standards for data protection;Janah v. Libya/Benkharbouche v. Sudan [2016] UKSC nyr, [2015] EWCA Civ 33 (whether principles of EU law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights could be prayed in aid to established jurisdiction and right to a substantive remedy in employment dispute claims which were otherwise barred by State immunity under national legislation;AB v. Her Majesty’s Advocate [2016] UKSC nyr – challenge to the Convention compatibility of Scottish legislation which removes an otherwise available reasonable belief defence as to the age of a sexual partner to persons previously charged with a relevant offence; “A” v. General Council of Bar of Northern Ireland [2017] UKSC nyr, [2015] NIQB 4  – compatibility of NI Bar Council rules requiring instruction of senior counsel with Convention right to lawyer of one’s choosing; Case C-333/14 Scotch Whisky Association and others v. Scottish Ministers re minimum alcohol pricing [2016] CSIH nyr; EU:C:2015:845; [2014] CSIH 38; [2013] CSOH 70 - compatibility of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 with Article 34 TFEU on the free movement of goods and/or the Common Agricultural Policy; R Hainsworth v. Ministry of Defence 1 December [2015] UKSC nyr re Article 5 of Directive 2000/78 and the duty of an employer to make reasonable adjustments within the context of associative discrimination to accommodate the disability needs of a dependent child of an employee; R (Sandiford) v. Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2014] UKSC 44; [2013] EWCA Civ 581; [2013] EWHC 168 (Admin) - whether the FCO had duties at common law under the ECHR (and, before the EWCA, under EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to provide funding for legal representation of British nationals facing death penalty abroad; R. (Chester) v Secretary of State for Justice/McGeoch v. Lord President of the Council [2013] UKSC 63; [2011] CSIH 67; [2011] CSOH 65 - Judicial Review of the compatibility with the petitioner's EU law citizenship rights of the decision to refuse the a convicted prisoner's application to be included on the Electoral Register for local government elections and separately for elections to the European Parliament; Bulls v. Preddy and Hall [2013] UKSC 73 - whether Christian guest house owners could, on grounds of religious conviction, lawfully refuse a double-bedded room to a couple in a civil partnership; Animal Defenders International v. United Kingdom (2013) 57 EHRR 21 (Grand Chamber, 22 April 2013) - whether the ban on paid “political” broadcast advertising was compatible with right to free expression under Article 10 ECHR; Walton (formerly Roadsense) v. Scottish Ministers [2012] UKSC 44 - EU law and the Aarhus Convention in relation to duties of strategic environmental assessment, public consultation and statutory title of “persons aggrieved” to object to road schemes on environmental grounds; Ravat v. Halliburton Manufacturing & Services Ltd. [2012] UKSC 1; [2010] CSIH 52 - whether a UK employment tribunal had jurisdiction to adjudicate on an unfair dismissal claim from an oil industry employee working outside the EU; AXA General Insurance v. Lord Advocate [2011] UKSC 46; [2011] CSIH 31; [2010] CSOH 2 - judicial review of the validity and Convention compatibility of the Damages (Asbestos-related conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009; Cadder v. Her Majesty’s Advocate [2010] UKSC 43 - on the Convention right to have a solicitor present during a police interview while in police detention; R (JF and Thompson) v. Minister of Justice [2010] UKSC 17 - Article 8 ECHR right to privacy and its compatibility with the imposition of indefinite period of notification on the sex offenders register without provision for review.   Aidan O’Neill also has a niche practice in the area of sports law.  Recent cases include:Mike Ashley v. Scottish Football Association [2015] CSOH 78 – judicial review of a determination of a Judicial Panel and Appellate Tribunal of the SFA; Tonev/Celtic FC v. Scottish Football Association [2014] SFA Appellate Tribunal nyr – appeal against a determination of the SFA disciplinary tribunal making a finding of misconduct in use of racist abuse by one player against another and with consequent imposition of sanction of match suspension; Rangers FC v. Scottish Football Association [2012] CSOH 95, (judicial review of vires of imposition by SFA Disciplinary Panel of sanction of one year transfer ban on players in respect of a finding that the club had brought the game of association football into disrepute.


Called 1987 (Scotland); called England and Wales Inner Temple 1996; Q.C. Scotland 1999; Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Office 1997-99; publications: ‘EU Law for UK Lawyers; the domestic impact of EU law within the UK’ (Hart 2nd ed 2011); ‘Judicial Review in Scotland: a practitioner’s guide’ (Butterworths 1999); ‘Decisions of the European Court of Justice and their Constitutional Implications’ (Butterworths 1994); contributing editor (Scotland) for Clayton & Tomlinson ‘Law of Human Rights’ (2nd ed 2009); contributor to a number of legal books and author of a number of articles in scholarly journals, particularly in the field of human rights and community/EU law.


French, Italian.


University of Edinburgh (LLB (Hons) first class; Diploma in legal practice); University of Sydney (LLM (Hons) first class); European University Institute, Florence (LLM); University of Edinburgh (LLD (awarded on the basis of legal publications).

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