Personal injury: defender in Scotland


BLM added four new solicitors to the team during 2018, consolidating its market-leading position in personal injury. The practice handles the defence of complex public liability and employers’ liability claims, road traffic accidents and fatal claims, including cross-border matters and class actions. The team includes Gillian Rushbury, the head of the firm's solicitor advocacy unit in Scotland, and Ian Leach, who is working with associate Catriona MacLean on claims arising from the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy. The team's partners regularly give advice during government consultations on topics such as legal costs.

Practice head(s):

Ian Leach; Gillian Rushbury

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Rough; Catriona MacLean


‘Rachel Rough’s team’s knowledge of the local market is extensive. Their desire to provide a first class service moulded to our requirements has inspired confidence in our relationship.’

‘The team at BLM are very hard working and knowledgeable.’

‘Iain Buchanan is clever, hard working and dedicated.’

‘Louise Gallagher is intuitive, firm and practical.’

Key clients

1st Central










AXA Insurance

BAI Claims Services Ltd


Direct Line



Charles Taylor Adjusters



City of Edinburgh Council

Work highlights

  • Acting for Admiral in act for the defender in ongoing litigation relating to a road traffic accident in which the pursuer sustained a severe brain injury along with other multiple injuries.
  • Achieving a favourable settlement for QBE in a road traffic accident claim involving a loss of future earnings advanced by an employee of the British Army.
  • Achieving a substantially reduced settlement for Aviva in a workplace accident claim against the company.
  • Acting in a series of occupational disease claims, including mesothelioma, on behalf of BAI Claims Services’ policyholders.

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP handles a wide range of cases for major insurers and large companies, with a particular specialism in offshore accidents. The team defends class actions across a range of areas in the personal injury arena, including product liability and public liability, and also defends high value motor accidents, fatal claims and catastrophic injury claims. Tony Jones QC joined from BTO during 2018, adding considerable expertise to the practice. In 2017 partner Elena Fry spent two years as the head of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers in Scotland and was appointed as a member of the Scottish Civil Justice Council in late 2017.

Practice head(s):

Elena Fry

Other key lawyers:

Tony Jones QC


‘Brodies is a top tier Scottish firm with capability in every field, which is rare in the market. They have an excellent brand and reputation, which is backed up by their performance on any case I’ve instructed them on.’

‘Elena Fry is a first-class solicitor – arguably the best in the market. She gets to the heart of any issues on a case very quickly, is pragmatic, and has very strong commercial acumen.’

Key clients



Ensatar/Starstone Underwriting

Scottish Power Ltd

Axis Capital

Babcock International Group

Subsea 7

Sunderland Marine Insurance

National Express Group

Cape Plc

Abellio Ltd

CalMac Ferries

Anasuria Operating Company

Gard P&I Club

Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service

Work highlights

  • Acted for Turning Point Scotland and its insurer, Zurich, in an unusual case brought by the family of Francis Hughes, a man who died in the care of Turning Point Scotland’s homelessness centre as a result of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Acting for Sunderland Marine Insurance and their insured fishing vessel owner in the defence of a claim for damages following catastrophic injury to a foreign seafarer in Scottish waters.
  • Representing a large insurer and coach company in a Court of Session case concerning a fatal coach incident, in a claim intimated by the husband of one of the passengers who died.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP’s team of 'recognised masters in Scottish PI defence work' is led by solicitor-advocate Stephen Bryceland. The large practice acts for brokers, insurers and self-insured companies defending claims in all areas of personal injury, with notable strength handling claims relating to fraud, farming accidents and offshore accidents. Carly Forrest is a civil solicitor-advocate known for acting in cases with an international element.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Bryceland

Other key lawyers:

Carly Forrest


‘BTO’s expertise in insurance-specific matters is unrivalled.’

‘BTO’s team are recognised masters of their jurisdiction in Scottish PI defence work.’ 

‘The team provides seamless service, outstanding results and consistent value.’

‘A team built on stability, experience, professionalism & customer service – and they are always willing to innovate.’

‘Partners Catherine Currie, Carly Forrest and Garry Ferguson are exceptional defenders, demonstrating thoroughness in their preparation and delivering consistent success in execution.’

Key clients


AIG Europe Limited

NFU Mutual Insurance Society Limited

CHUBB European Group Limited


Gallagher Bassett

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Limited

Lockheed Martin

Cunningham Lindsey

UK General Insurance

Riverstone Europe

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended NFU Mutual following a farm accident resulting in no damages being paid, recovery of full expenses in excess of six figures and the defenders being awarded an additional fee given the complexity and novelty of the case.
  • Successfully detected fraud and defended RSA in a road traffic claim resulting in the pursuer agreeing to abandon her claim.
  • Secured a seven-figure saving for a major UK insurer and an award of expenses in favour of the firm’s clients following a catastrophic road accident.
  • Achieved settlement prior to proof for Aspen Insurance UK in a claim against the company for damages following a catastrophic injury sustained at work by the pursuer, resulting in a significant saving on costs circa £2m.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP acts for eighteen of the top twenty UK insurers and all of Scotland’s defence organisations, covering all types of claims. The practice has a track record of successfully defending high value road traffic accidents and fatal claims, and in recent years has established itself as a leading authority in historic abuse litigation, with partner Graeme Watson taking charge of these matters and giving evidence to the Scottish parliament on the crucial issue of limitation.

Practice head(s):

David Tait; Giles Graham; Mark Donaldson

Other key lawyers:

Graeme Watson; Andrew Constable


‘There is clearly a culture of trust at Clyde & Co which allows lawyers assisting the partners to flourish.’

‘Partners at Clyde’s offices in Aberdeen and Edinburgh are extremely robust. If I want a case defended in the Scottish Sheriff Courts, I’m instructing Clydes.’

‘Mark Donaldson is a vastly experienced hand in the oil, gas and energy sector. He is uniquely placed to offer sound advice on both civil and criminal matters.’

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of a religious order in the defence of claims arising out of alleged historic abuse at children’s homes in Scotland.
  • Successfully defending the first case in Scotland to be brought under the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) 2017 act.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern covers the full range of personal injury actions, with specialist expertise in prison matters, serving as sole provider to the Scottish Prison Service for defender personal injury claims and fatal accident inquiries. Jonathan Guy heads up the insurance and health and safety unit, while also serving as lead partner for a number of the team's key clients. 'Experienced and well-respected' director Sarah Phillips  has particular expertise in prison claims.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Guy


‘A breadth of knowledge and focus, delivering the best outcomes for clients.’

‘Anderson Strathern is a leading player in personal injury defender work in Scotland. It covers a wide range of cases in this area. Its energetic and engaging team has a well-deserved reputation for knowledge, experience and competence.’

‘Sarah Phillips is an experienced and well-respected solicitor in the area of defender personal injury work. Hard-working and well-organised, she deals effectively with clients and opponents alike.’

Key clients

Co-operative Insurance

The Scottish Government

The Scottish Prison Service

The UK Government

Scottish Water

Risk Management Authority


Garwyn Liability Adjusters

Farmer Autocare


Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a fatal claim for the Scottish Prison Service following a fatal accident inquiry into a prisoner death.
  • Representing the Scottish Prison Service in defending a claim for damages by a prisoner due to a prisoner on prisoner assault with a potential value of more than £2m.
  • Representing the Parole Board for Scotland in a  high value damages claim brought by a prisoner for injuries he sustained in prison and achieving a successful outcome at first instance in Aberdeen Sheriff Court and at second instance in the Sheriff Appeal Court.
  • Representing Scottish Water in an action for damages raised by the family of man who died from prolonged exposure to asbestos.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP acts for both private companies and public sector organisations, and has aimed to differentiate itself from other firms handling volume instructions from insurer panel appointments. The team handles employer liability and public liability claims across a wide range of sectors, including aviation, oil and gas, product liability and construction. The practice, which is led by Ewan McIntyre, is also known for its successful defence of mesothelioma claims.

Practice head(s):

Ewan McIntyre

Other key lawyers:

Will Cole

Key clients

Amec Foster Wheeler Group Limited

Kier Group PLC

SSE PLC/Scotia Gas Networks Limited t/a SGN

Taylor Wimpey PLC

John Wood Group PLC

Student Loans Company Limited

City of Edinburgh Council

Russell Logistics

Smith & Nephew PLC


Gard Insurance Group

Seadrill Group

Charles Taylor & Co Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for the carrier in multiple litigations by persons injured, and relatives of persons killed, in a major aviation disaster.
  • Acting for a local authority in respect of a claim by the relatives of a child killed in an accident on local authority premises.
  • Defending a range of employers and public liability claims, including a recent claim by an employee whose leg was crushed by an excavator.
  • Defending a range of employers and public liability claims including complex historic disease claims involving contested inheritance of liability issues.

DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP

DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP has a dedicated fraud team in Scotland with a strong track record of investigating and defending exaggerated or false claims, usually arising from road traffic accidents. 'Excellent' solicitor-advocate Andrew Ireland has been leading on a 32-pursuer mesothelioma claim valued at more than £1m, while solicitor advocate Anne Logan  has a strong recent record of  achieving favourable settlements for insurer clients in high value employers’ liability claims.

Practice head(s):

John Maillie

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Ireland; Anne Logan

Key clients


AXA Corporate Solutions









Work highlights

  • Settled a high value claim for a quarter of its original value by demonstrating that the pursuer, a motorcyclist injured in a road traffic accident, had exaggerated his injuries and falsely claimed that he was rendered unfit for future employment.
  • Achieved a substantially reduced settlement on behalf of Aviva in an employers’ liability claim against their insured, using surveillance to determine that the pursuer suffered no significant injuries when she tripped at work.
  • Handling a 32-pursuer, single defender mesothelioma claim for Riverstone, negotiating a favourable settlement by carrying out investigations which generated reasonable doubt concerning the diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP acts for large insurers, public bodies and private individuals in claims pertaining to wrongful deaths, road traffic accidents and mesothelioma, as well as cases concerning public and occupiers’ liability. Thanks in part to a new referral scheme rolled out in 2018 the practice doubled its number of instructions, and saw a rise in work from clients requiring advice on technical aspects of claims prior to court action. Suzanne McGarrigle has particular experience in employers’ and public liability claims and industrial disease, drawing upon her team’s strong background in health and safety work.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Mitchell

Other key lawyers:

Suzanne McGarrigle


‘A thorough, well prepared and well equipped team.’

‘Heather Calderwood is firm, determined, pleasant and pragmatic.’

‘Amy Dickson is resourceful, respectful and not scared of running a case.’

Key clients

Direct Line Group

Forest Enterprise Scotland

Covea Insurance

Acromas Insurance Company Limited

EUI imited


Elephant Insurance

Diamond Insurance

Morton Fraser

Acting predominantly for major clients in the public sector, Morton Fraser’s personal injury practice deals with a high volume of asbestos and historical abuse claims, in addition to work deriving from road traffic accidents, serious brain injuries and employers’ liability claims. Practice head Jenny Dickson, who sits on the FOIL Disease Sector Focus Team, helped the firm to win a competitive tender process in 2018 to exclusively represent Royal Mail in the personal injury sphere.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Dickson

Key clients

Royal Mail

AIG Europe Ltd & AMEC Foster Wheeler

Ministry of Defence

Scottish Government

UK Government

Work highlights

  • Representing AIG Europe and Amec Foster Wheeler, the firm successfully defended an appeal in the UK Supreme Court by a claimant who sought damages for purely psychiatric injury, specifically PTSD, caused by a fire at work which trapped him on the roof of a building for a period of time.
  • Achieving an out-of-court settlement for the Ministry of Defence in a fatal mesothelioma case arising from historic exposure to asbestos during the course of the deceased’s employment.
  • Negotiating a settlement on behalf of Royal Mail in a claim for damages arising from a catastrophic brain injury sustained by the pursuer at work.
  • Advising a client regarding a multi-jurisdictional claim brought by a pursuer who sustained serious injuries during a road traffic accident in England


CMS draws on its UK-wide offering and in-house solicitor advocates to handle complex cases in industries such as energy, oil and gas and construction, regularly involving multiple claimants. Within these key areas, industrial disease, product liability, occupiers’ liability and employers’ liability claims are dealt with en masse by the team, which acts for a wide range of major international corporations and insurance providers. Dual-qualified partner Valerie Allan predominantly services clients in the oil and gas sector who benefit from her background as a commercial litigator.

Practice head(s):

Colin Hutton; Jan Burgess

Other key lawyers:

Valerie Allan

Key clients




Coal Products Limited

Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy

Electric Insurance

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

GE Aviation

GE Oil & Gas Pressure Control Limited


Imperial Chemical Industries PLC

Legal & General

MS Amlin

National Museums Scotland


Qatar Airways





Work highlights

  • Negotiating a settlement for Bain & Irvine in a personal injury action involving a worker falling from a roof.
  • Defending an energy company in an asbestos disease claim, turning on the sufficiency of the pursuer’s exposure evidence.
  • Negotiated an out-of-court settlement on behalf of one defender in a multiple-defender personal injury claim, which explored questions about the limitations of the protection provided to defenders by a Houston tender and apportionment of liability between co-defenders.


DWF partners Andrew Lothian and Jill Sinclair are prominent figures in their respective areas of personal injury. The 'hugely impressive' Lothian, who heads up the firm's general insurance team, has a strong track record in asbestos related claims, while the 'tenacious and intelligent' Sinclair leads the counter fraud team, which significantly increased revenues during 2018. Associate Julia McDonald covers fatal accident inquiries relating to deaths in custody.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Lothian; Jill Sinclair

Other key lawyers:

Julia McDonald


‘The counter fraud team supports clients with up-to-date intelligence and provides specialist knowledge in order to develop effective counter fraud strategies.’

‘The DWF team is Scotland is great to work with – I always look forward to dealing with them as they are knowledgeable, professional and very nice people which helps them stand out in a busy marketplace. They are innovative in their approach to insurance matters such as their award-winning Disrupt To Progress forum on counter-fraud, and back that up with an extensive set of legal expertise and experience.’

‘Jill Sinclair is tenacious, intelligent and easy to work with.’

‘Jill Sinclair is a pleasure to work with – she’s knowledgeable, approachable and always has time to discuss specific issues as well as the wider market.’

‘Andrew Lothian is hugely impressive and brings a gravitas and level of knowledge to every meeting he takes part in. His contributions are always considered and should be listened to.’

‘Senior associate Caroline Coyle is first class – she’s knowlegdeable, enthusiastic and comprehensive in her approach, which clearly provides tremendous support for her colleagues.’

‘Caroline Coyle is an amazing solicitor who is extremely knowledgeable and has a lovely manner with clients.’

Key clients



Ms Amlin

Insure the Box

Liverpool Victoria


XS Direct

Gallacher Bassett

Tokio Marine Kiln


Work highlights

  • Acting for Equity Red star defending three claims arising from road traffic accidents and successfully appealing the decision in the pursuers’ favour, based on the assertion that the central expert’s status was ‘questionable’ and therefore his testimony had to be dismissed.
  • Acting for Tokio Marine Kiln in an ongoing claim brought against their insured by a hotel worker who was attacked by a colleague at work and sustained serious facial injuries.
  • Fatal motorcycle claim – liability, quantum and the discount rate.

Keoghs LLP

Keoghs LLP acquired Hill Dickinson LLP's insurance business division during 2018, opening the firm up to a wider pool of clients including large insurers, major supermarkets and private companies. The firm moved into the Glasgow market in 2017 and is now well-established in the market, handling work for major insurance and retail clients. The firm is currently defending a string of confidential abuse cases for an insurer and has notable experience in employers’ and public liability cases.

Practice head(s):

Douglas Cowan; David Hennessy; Emily Jeffrey; Stefanie Johnston


‘David Hennessy, Kirsty McDermott and Michelle Thorburn have quickly recognised our brand values and incorporated these into their service offering.’

Key clients



1st Central





Skuld Insurance


John Lewis



Work highlights

  • Represented a Spanish insurer in a foreign accident claim involving complex jurisdictional issues.
  • Represented a major retail client in customer amputation claim, resulting in claim for relief against third party supplier and a favourable settlement for the client.
  • Represented policyholder of defunct insurer in successful defence and costs recovery in defective scaffolding claim.
  • Representing a major legacy insurer in claims for historic abuse including sporting associations, football clubs, religious and care institutions.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP

Ledingham Chalmers LLP is one of the go-to defender firms for local authorities in Scotland. The team, which comprises six accredited specialists and three solicitor-advocates with extended rights of audience, handles a wide ambit of claims for councils, including fatalities, catastrophic injuries, road traffic accidents, stress at work and breach of contract. The 'reliable and approachable' Sarah Morris regularly conducts proofs, appeals and debates in the Sheriff Court and the Court of Session for public and private sector clients.

Practice head(s):

John Chalmers; Graeme Edward; Victoria Leslie

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Morris


‘The team have a geographical coverage which other major players in the market don’t, and that is very important to some clients. Even more importantly, they are just full of good people.’

‘Ledingham Chalmers provide top class advice in relation to defender personal injury. Their client care is excellent and they represent very good value for money.’

‘As a team, they are dynamic and reactive and are always on hand when you need them.’

‘Sarah Morris provides outstanding legal advice and has a very good understanding of her client’s needs.’

‘Graeme Edward is extremely impressive and can be trusted to get the right result on any case.’

Key clients

Gallagher Bassett International

Zenith Insurance

Tradex Insurance

Markerstudy Insurance

North Lanarkshire Council

Zurich Insurance

Police Scotland

Highland Council

East Lothian Council

Work highlights

  • Representing a local authority in historic child abuse case in the Court of Session, securing abandonment of the claim.
  • Representing a defender via his home insurer, Direct Line, following a claim brought by a person injured on his property whilst cleaning windows.
  • Representing a local authority in public liability claim involving a tripping incident, successfully defending the case in the Court of Session at first instance and securing dismissal of the claim when the pursuer appealed to the Inner House.
  • Acting for a local authority and achieving settlement in a fatal road traffic accident claim.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP's personal injury practice deals primarily with insurer clients in the defence of high value road traffic accidents, while the team also has a strong foothold in disease, fatal and employers’ liability claims, which frequently contain multi-jurisdictional elements. The team includes Pamela Stevenson, who has 20 years of experience in the field, and solicitor-advocate Douglas Keir, who holds extended civil rights of audience in the Court of Session and the UK Supreme Court.

Practice head(s):

Douglas Keir; Pamela Stevenson; Seonaid Busby

Key clients

Zurich Financial Services

Ageas Insurance



Greene King

AXA Insurance

Motor Insurers Bureau



Work highlights

  • Defending Doosan Babcock in a claim for damages arising from pursuer’s alleged secondary exposure to asbestos via her partner’s work clothes.