Crime: general in Scotland

John Scott QC handles the full range of criminal defence work, including rape and murder trials, and frequently receives referral work from other law firms.

Practice head(s):

John Scott QC


John Scott QC stands out at the Scottish Bar for a number of reasons : his knowledge of the law; his attention to detail; he has the war of the Court; his high standing amongst his peers; his communication skills and of course his ability to quickly build and retain a rapport with the client. If John is instructed one is safe in the knowledge that what can be done will be done.

John Scott QC is a solicitor advocate of the highest calibre. He has dealt with complicated, voluminous and extremely delicate cases on our behalf and has conducted each with the highest levels of professionalism and competence. He is excellent is his dealings with clients and professional colleagues. He displays an extremely high standard of court advocacy and presentation and is clearly held in high regard by the judiciary.

Key clients

Fitzpatrick and Co, Glasgow

John Keenan, Paterson Bell

Glasgow Law Practice

Guarino and Thomson Solicitors

Peter G Farrell Solicitors

Gallen and Company

Morgans Solicitors

Work highlights

  • Defended a 17 year old boy in a trial for rape and several other serious sexual offences against four different girls, dating back to when he was 15 and with the girls also aged under 16 at the time. John Scott QC secured an acquittal on the rape allegation and succeeded in persuading the Judge to impose a non-custodial sentence.
  • Acted for a client in a murder trial. While the accused was convicted after several weeks of evidence, John Scott QC succeeded in persuading the Appeal Court to reduce the punishment part (or tariff) on the client’s life sentence.
  • Instructed late in a trial involving allegations of rape by two complainers. Successfully secured an acquittal on all charges.

Beltrami & Co Ltd

Beltrami & Co Ltd is a highly regarded player in the criminal law space, acting for clients in criminal defence and criminal appeals pertaining to a wide range of offences. Gary McAteer heads the team, which includes the highly regarded Murray Macara QC.

Practice head(s):

Gary McAteer

Other key lawyers:

Murray Macara QC

MTM Defence Lawyers

With offices in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Glasgow as well as London, MTM Defence Lawyers' clients, including professionals and high-net-worth individuals, benefit from the firm's geographical reach. Handling sexual and domestic cases, including breach of peace, domestic assault, stalking, revenge porn and Communications Act offences, count as areas of particular strength, which leads to regular referrals from family law firms. Recently, the team has also been increasingly active advising witnesses on court procedures. Murray Aitken is the main contact in Falkirk, Neil Hay in Edinburgh and Martin Morrow in Glasgow.

Other key lawyers:

Simon Hutchison


Always available to contact and support. Regular updates on work undertaken.

They have 24 hour availability and are located right in the heart of Edinburgh’s financial sector. Neil Hay is an exceptional strategic thinker, and a brilliant communicator. Many cases avoid court and, in those that do, he always ensures the best result possible. He is the solicitor of choice for referrals from large City law firms, which says it all. You would want him in the trenches with you.

Neil Hay and his team are knowledgeable and responsive. They offer sound, practical advice and are very helpful and approachable.

Neil Hay and his team are an impressive outfit. They are hugely responsive and able to offer much needed reassurance to clients in what can be incredibly challenging situations. They are readily available out of hours and at the weekend and go the extra mile as required. This is coupled with excellent technical expertise, vast experience and great client care and service. Their reach – both in range of experience and geographical cover – is impressive, especially for a relatively small, extremely efficient and well run team.

Neil Hay is excellent. He really knows his stuff. He relates to clients in a way they can understand and inspires real confidence. He offers really well thought out advice and he gives clear guidance to the client. He gets to the heart of the problem and quickly offers a clear plan.

Neil Hay is always the first person I recommend to any clients needing input in this field. He is incredibly reassuring and manages to instil confidence even in the midst of crises. He is extremely responsive and I have had many consultations with him late in the evening or at the weekend as required. He is proactive and goes above and beyond to ensure excellent client service and results at all times. His range of knowledge and expertise is extremely impressive and he is a real team player – very collegiate and entirely straight talking – again rare qualities which I value highly.

Work highlights

  • Advising and representing schoolboy in police interviews relating to alleged sexual misdemeanour.
  • Acted for a male client who was charged with sexual offences with the accuser serving seven years in custody for raping the client’s (and other) children.
  • Acted for a client in a sexual assault case. Three different charges were whittled down to a basic breach of the peace charge for which the client got an absolute discharge; he pleaded guilty but avoided getting any conviction.
  • In a case under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016, the team represented a client who was alleged to have made a threat following her discovery of a video of her husband with another woman, who was a senior civil servant. The allegation was that the client (the wife) had threatened to make the video go viral.
  • Acted for a client who was facing six serious charges, all deriving from an incident involving an attempted street robbery of a car.

Adams Whyte

The 'very active' team at Adams Whyte is legal aid registered and handles a wide range of criminal defence work, representing clients throughout Scotland with offices in Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy and Livingston. Ewen Roy, Kevin Dugan and Gerry Bann are the main contacts.

Practice head(s):

Ewen Roy; Kevin Dugan; Gerry Bann

Livingstone Brown

Livingstone Brown's litigation and inquiries team benefits from the close cooperation with various other practices such as family law, child protection and private client. This multi-practice approach makes it well placed to handle a wide range of criminal work, much of it is legally aided, including police station advice, custody appearances and court work. Stuart Munro heads the team, which includes Paul Mullen, who became a solicitor advocate in November 2019.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Munro

Other key lawyers:

Paul Mullen

Work highlights

  • Representing a solicitor, who was charged with murder in the High Court. At the conclusion of the Crown case, a no case to answer submission was upheld, and the client acquitted.

Bridge Litigation UK

Bridge Litigation UK provides assistance in criminal defence proceedings pertaining to serious and organised crime, murder, misuse of drugs and other offences.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP has particular expertise in handling fatal road traffic collisions prosecuted by the Crown's specialist Road Traffic Fatalities Investigations Unit but also acts for clients accused of assault. Criminal and regulatory defence specialists Clare Bone, Vikki Watt and Alasdair Gillies are the main contacts.

Work highlights

  • Acted for an individual in a High Court trial for causing death by dangerous driving in a case involving the death of a young girl.
  • Acted for an individual in a summary trial for careless driving involving the consideration of safety issues beyond the conduct of the driver.

Central Court Lawyers

Livingstone-based firm Central Court Lawyers provides criminal defence assistance at every stage of police investigations and criminal prosecutions. Criminal solicitor advocate Ian Bryce is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Ian Bryce

Martin, Johnston & Socha

Martin, Johnston & Socha is approved by the Scottish Legal Aid Board and has offices in Dunfermline, Alloa and Kirkcaldy. The team regularly defends clients in a wide range of criminal proceedings before the Sheriff Court, Justice of the Peace Court and the High Court. Gordon Martin and Krista Johnston are the main contacts.

Other key lawyers:

Gordon Martin; Krista Johnston

Paterson Bell Solicitors

Registered to provide legal aid, Paterson Bell Solicitors is well placed to act for clients accused of various criminal offences, including the most serious ones, and represents individuals in the High Court, the Sheriff Court and the Justice of the Peace Court across Scotland. Iain Paterson is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Iain Paterson

Other key lawyers:

John Keenan