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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 > Public sector > Local government > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Local government
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Brodies LLP's 'excellent' practice acts for major Scottish councils, including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Stirling, on the full spectrum of project work, including governance, electoral law, judicial reviews, private legislation, local government finance. It also acts for Arms-Length External Organisations (ALEOs) on TUPE matters. Practice head Jackie McGuire and consultant Jane McMonagle are advising Glasgow City Council in connection with all aspects of its refurbishment and redevelopment of the Burrell Collection, including procurement, pre-construction agreements and the drafting of specific contractual clauses to allow for community benefits and partnering provisions. Drawing on her expertise in public, planning and environmental law, McGuire is also advising Perth and Kinross Council on a major road and bridge infrastructure project. The group is Argyll and Bute Council’s principal external legal adviser, and continue to provide the client with employment, pensions, property and public law support regarding the externalisation of its leisure services. Firm chair Christine O’Neill is recommended for expertise in contractual and procurement issues, while Sarah-Jane McArthur has particular experience in supporting local authorities with their low-carbon emissions projects.

CMS is marked out by its strong offering of planning and transport legal services for local authorities, which it advises on major infrastructure projects spanning waste management, education, housing and other procurement matters, in addition to contentious matters arising from the public sector. The practice is co-led by public sector veteran Alisa Ritchie and Ann Faulds, who has considerable experience in the intersection between planning, transport and public law. The group represented Stirling Council in the planning appeal inquiry into the proposed Park of Keir tennis and golf centre, permission for which was refused, until the intervention of Scottish Ministers. The group is now advising the Council on the terms of the Scottish Ministers’ decision and the negotiation of the legal agreement with the developer, in addition to the client’s communication with community representatives. The team is also advising Glasgow City Council on a £250m residential development programme, and its procurement of 600 houses for private sale and 200 mid-market units for direct sale to Glasgow Housing Association; a matter that involved a suite of contracts, the identification of project legal risks with mitigation strategies and environmental considerations. It is also assisting a number of local councils with the construction of new schools through the Scottish Government’s hub programme. Michael McAuley is another key contact for procurement matters and project finance.

Under ‘authoritative’ practice head Jennifer Jack, Harper Macleod LLP has the ‘pre-eminent team in Scotland’ which stands out for its public law work. The group high-value procurement projects for a mixture of government bodies and local authorities. It is also noted for its pedigree in licensing and planning, from a local authority perspective. The group was recently appointed as the sole legal advisers to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, handling procurement, regulatory and procurement matters, including host city contracts, negotiations between the Council and various sports federations, and the procurement of ICT services and a host broadcaster. James McMorrow and Euan Pirie are advising City of Edinburgh Council on procurement arrangements for the delivery of the city’s Christmas and New Year events, as well as the procurement of its energy efficient street lighting programme. Experienced litigator Sandy Hastie successfully defended a high-value claim brought against Highland Council at the Court of Session by a tenant of Kyle Harbour who was seeking substantial damages for the loss of his business arising from alleged conduct of council officials.

Morton Fraser handles the full spectrum of local authority work and possesses expertise in public law, planning, licensing, judicial review, procurement and local government law. The group has particular experience in local government litigation, where it has acted in public local inquiries and statutory appeals. Alongside Douglas Milne, practice head Rory Alexander, who is a thought leader in the field, successfully acted for the Strategic Development Planning Authority (SDPA) for Aberdeen City and Shire Council in a Supreme Court appeal, brought by Elsick Development Company, against the SDPA’s supplementary guidance which seeks contributions to a Strategic Transport Fund. Jenny Dickson and legal director Lynda Towers represent the City of Edinburgh Council in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Shepherd and Wedderburn advises local councils across Scotland on a variety of matters, including major capital infrastructure projects, hub programmes, ALEOs and the Scottish Government’s low carbon initiative. Rhona Harper leads the firm’s Government and Public Sector group and has vast experience in advising public sector bodies on a variety of projects involving infrastructure procurement and outsourcing, particularly specialist accommodation projects in the education and health sectors and equipment procurement in the defence sector. Projects practice head Stephen Colliston is noted for his expertise in public finance initiative (PFI), public private partnership (PPP) and non-profit distribution (NPD) structures. Highlights included advising North Lanarkshire Council on the complex sale of its shares in a facilities management joint venture between the council and ALH 86. The group is currently advising West Dunbartonshire Council on the procurement of a major water source heat pump system, and assisted the client with securing Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) funding from the Scottish Government. Ewan McLeod and Euan McLeod are also key practitioners.

Anderson Strathern’s ‘strong’ team focuses on projects, regeneration and infrastructure work, but it also advises local authorities on novel structures, such as transferring assets to ALEOs and the consolidation of existing ALEOs. The firm’s construction practice handles a range of both contentious and non-contentious issues for numerous Scottish councils. Practice head Audrey Cameron is currently assisting Fife Council with the delivery of its Affordable Housing programme, which is being procured under the Scrape Framework. Real estate litigator Fiona Stephen is representing Midlothian Council against an appeal lodged by various land owners to recall a notice served by the council requiring them to remove a fence. Gillian Anderson is instructed by Dumfries and Galloway Council regarding its proposed £1m loan to the Crichton Trust.

Burness Paull LLP’s public law practitioners are noted as ‘experts in their field’. The group stands out for its expertise public service delivery models, which includes the establishment of culture and leisure trusts, shared service structures and economic development partnerships. It also handles a number of public infrastructure projects, especially involving NPDs and hub initiatives. Practice head Stephen Philips has ‘excellent all round knowledge of matters affecting local government’ and regularly advises local authorities on offshoot companies and shared services. Graeme Palmer often assists with high-level options appraisals, as well as issues arising from procurement and state aid. Highlights included advising the Improvement Service, a body set up by the Scottish Government to improve public service delivery across Scotland, on the development of the governance structure for the Ayrshire Regional Partnership, between three local councils. It is also assisting the Scottish Government subsidiary, Scottish Futures Trust, with templates and guidance to promote wider use of property-sharing arrangements across Scottish local authorities. Also of note, the group advised West Lothian Council on the transfer of certain leisure operations into an offshoot charitable company.

DWF has particular clout in IT infrastructure projects, in addition to advising on the establishment of NPDs, including ALEOs for the delivery of leisure and culture services. Martin Gallaher, who is ‘an excellent’ commercial lawyer, ‘combines an eye for detail with extensive experience in public procurement’. ‘Good at seeing the bigger picture’, Suzanne Moir provides ‘pragmatic and very commercial advice’. The group continues to advise Dundee City Council and Angus Council on their joint procurement for residual waste management services, which is currently at the dialogue phase. It has also supported Dundee City Council in connection with the sale of Dundee Energy Recycling, which involved a complex restructuring of the company and extensive tax advice. It is also advising the Scottish Government on the delivery of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme (DSSB) in connection with the investment of capital contributions from multiple Scottish local authorities. In another highlight, the group advised Angus Council on two school design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) projects.

MacRoberts LLP’s public sector procurement team specialises in high-value contentious and non-contentious matters concerning Scottish local authorities. The group is led by Duncan Osler, who advises ReadyforBuiness, which is an intermediary between the public and third sectors, on local authority procurement legislation, a recycling contact and the integration of a reserved business lot into a major framework. Katy Wedderburn is representing a large local authority at an employment tribunal regarding multiple claims for unfair dismissal brought by senior education staff (including a head teacher) who were fired for a failure to properly manage a complaint of sexual harassment by an adult student. Legal director James Keith is also recommended for his expertise in local government pension schemes.

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