Local government in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP's multi-disciplinary team is recognised by clients and peers alike for its outstanding expertise in advising Scottish councils on major local government projects such as infrastructure, heat and power. Led by the 'well regardedJackie McGuire, the practice handles contentious and non-contentious procurement work, judicial reviews and statutory appeals and advises on governance, election law and local government finance matters. Its client base also includes Arm's Length Organisations. Managing associate Niall McLean is recommended; he handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious issues.

Practice head(s):

Jackie McGuire

Other key lawyers:

Roger Cotton; Christine O’Neill; Sarah-Jane McArthur; Charles Livingstone; Niall McLean; Jane McMonagle; Lynne Marr; Mike Stephen

Key clients

East Lothian Council

COSLA

Aberdeen City Counsel

Aberdeenshire Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Stirling Council

West Lothian Council

Glasgow City Council

Falkirk Council

Argyll and Bute Council

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Work highlights

  • Advising on significant roads infrastructure projects undertaken by a Scottish local authority, which will include a new bridge over one of Scotland’s largest rivers.
  • Advising Hub East Central, on behalf of Fife Council, on a district heating scheme in Glentrothes; this includes assistance with the final development and procurement of a substantial multi-customer district heating scheme in Glenrothes.
  • Advised on the development and finance of a district heating scheme using heat from sewers to provide heat to commercial developers at Clyde Gateway as part of a wider energy masterplan for the area.
  • Advised SIC on the transfer of the operator role at Sollum Voe Terminal (SVT) in Shetland from British Petroleum to EnQuest.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP stands out for its expertise in assisting local authorities with public service delivery models, including the establishment and restructuring of culture and leisure trusts, shared service structures and economic development partnerships. Other key areas of expertise of Stephen Phillips's team include advising on new models for the delivery of public infrastructure projects and associated procurement, state aid, planning, property and governance matters.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Graeme Palmer; Gillian Harkness

Key clients

Glasgow City Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Perth and Kinross Council

Renfrewshire Council

Falkirk Council

Scottish Futures Trust

Improvement Service

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Sustrans

Work highlights

  • Advised the City of Edinburgh Council on the public inquiry into two planning and listed building appeals for the proposed redevelopment of the former Royal High School (New Parliament House).
  • Advised North Lanarkshire Council and Sanctuary Housing Association on the regeneration scheme in Cumbernauld, including the compulsory acquisition of 12 multi-storey tower blocks, which are being demolished and replaced with affordable housing and housing for the elderly.
  • Advised Glasgow City Council on the joint venture between the council and Wheatley Housing Group to become City Building (Glasgow).
  • The team continues to assist the Improvement Service with various EU procurement law matters, among others, pertaining to a major Scotland-wide project involving all 32 Scottish local authorities and focusing on shared services in roads.
  • Advising Scottish Futures Trust, a subsidiary of the Scottish Government, on developing new templates and guidance to promote wider use of property sharing arrangements across all public authorities in Scotland.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern handles all aspects of local government work including construction, public procurement and litigation which translates into a steady flow of instructions from local authorities and related authorities across Scotland. Acting in public sector regeneration projects is a key area of expertise for Audrey Cameron's team as well as assisting with shared service models and the rationalisation of Arm’s Length Organisations, among other novel structures and arrangements, across multiple authority areas.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Cameron

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Killen; Catriona Watt; Karyn Watt; Alastair McKie

Key clients

Fife Council

Midlothian Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Shetland Islands Council

Glasgow City Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Dundee City Council

Scottish Borders Council

SEStran

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT)

Work highlights

  • Advising the client on construction contracts, tenders and tender responses pertaining to the demolition of two existing primary schools, and the design and construction of two primary schools, nurseries and additional sports facilities.
  • Acted for the council to defend the public’s right to roam on a path following a summary application in the Sheriff Court under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 challenging the council’s notice to remove a locked gate and fence preventing public access on a path through their land.
  • Assisting Shetland Islands Council with the legal due diligence and the production of a full business case in respect of the potential merger between Shetland College and NAFC Marine Centre.
  • Advising the client on construction contracts pertaining to the purchase of a completed housing development from a private sector developer.

CMS

CMS' multi-disciplinary local government team 'provides a highly professional service in a timely manner' and puts significant emphasis on advising Scottish local authorities. It covers a wide range of property, planning, procurement and state aid matters arising from major projects in the transport, education, housing, sport, leisure and waste sectors. Ann Faulds and Ailsa Ritchie jointly head the team. Project finance expert Michael McAuley retired as partner in April 2018 and still supports the team as consultant.

Practice head(s):

Ann Faulds; Ailsa Ritchie

Other key lawyers:

Eleanor Lane; Christine Worthington; Amanda Methven; Paul Carter; Amy Norton; Iain Doran; Graeme Young; Shona Frame; Michael McAuley

Testimonials

Extremely knowledgeable and well equipped to answer any questions.

Always available to help when required.

The team ensures that the client’s views are represented and does not make assumptions as to what is required.’

Very patient and helpful team that is good at explaining legal technicalities in clear English.’

Key clients

Stirling Council

Moray Council

Glasgow City Council

Renfrewshire Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Aberdeenshire Council

South Lanarkshire Council

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Shetland Islands Council

Argyll and Bute Council

East Renfrewshire Council

Aberdeen City Council

Scottish Borders Council

Work highlights

  • Acted for the council in its £250m city regeneration project, assisting with the procurement for circa 900 houses for private sale, 200 mid-market units for direct sale to the Glasgow Housing Association and the provision of a commercial and retail development.
  • Advising Renfrewshire Council on property, planning, compulsory purchase, construction, procurement and state aid matters, among others, pertaining to its Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA) and Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside (CWRR) projects which are being promoted as part of the £1bn Glasgow City Region City Deal.
  • The team has been advising Stirling Council on various planning matters pertaining to the Park of Keir tennis and golf centre and the review of the mineral permission for Murrayshall Quarry.
  • Advising the council on the proposed extension of the Edinburgh Tram to Newhaven, including advice on the acquisition of land and securing statutory consents required for attaching overhead line equipment to buildings.  
  • Advised each of the councils on the construction of new schools in Inverurie, Alness, Elgin, Lossiemouth and Jedburgh, as well as the demolition of old schools.

Harper Macleod LLP

James McMorrow and the 'highly experiencedJennifer Jack jointly head the 'solid' team at Harper Macleod LLP, which receives regular instructions from local authorities and other Scottish governmental agencies to assist with housing law, public procurement and state aid matters alongside contentious and non-contentious planning and environmental law issues. Other regular work includes judicial reviews and statutory appeals. The team is also rated for its strength in sporting events-related work.

Practice head(s):

James McMorrow; Jennifer Jack

Other key lawyers:

Sandy Hastie; Tom Thomas

Testimonials

Good firm with a wide range of expertise across the board which makes it well suited to provide advice to local authorities.

Key clients

Glasgow City Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

The Highland Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Moray Council

East Renfrewshire Council

North Ayrshire Council

Shetland Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar

Cairngorm National Park Authority

Work highlights

  • Appointed, through GCC, as sole legal advisors to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships. This instruction included various procurement, regulatory and commercial matters such as host city contracts, negotiations between the council and various sports federations and the procurement of ICT services, among other issues.
  • Advising Shetland Islands Council on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Shetland Leasing & Property Developments (SLAP) from the Shetland Charitable Trust.
  • Successfully defended an action for judicial review raised by Wm Grant & Sons in connection with the proposed Dorenell wind farm.
  • Defending the council in an action for judicial review related to the procurement of a multi-million pound regeneration project in the Outer Hebrides.
  • Advising Inverclyde Council on procurement and state aid matters pertaining to the City Deal-funded project for the redevelopment of port facilities at OceanTerminal, Greenock, in conjunction with Peel Ports Clydeport.

MacRoberts LLP

MacRoberts LLP frequently assists local authorities and third-sector bodies with employment law matters, pension schemes, GDPR and procurement issues, but the team (led by Duncan Osler ) is also well versed in handling community asset transfers, development projects and regeneration schemes. Public and third-sector expert Robin Fallas made partner in May 2018.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Osler

Other key lawyers:

Robin Fallas

Key clients

The City of Edinburgh Council

West Lothian Council

Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland

Social Work Scotland

North Lanarkshire Council

Scottish Borders Council

North Ayrshire Council

West Lothian Council

CVS Inverclyde

West Dunbartonshire Council

Work highlights

  • Advising and representing the council in the Employment Tribunal in a claim involving disability discrimination, detriment as a result of making a protected disclosure and constructive unfair dismissal.
  • Assisted the client with the creation of a bespoke form of contract to be used between local authorities, charities and individuals for the delivery of social care.
  • Advised the client on the process to secure a new ICT system, which included assistance with procurement, employment, contractual and data protection matters.

Morton Fraser

The team at Morton Fraser has particular expertise in local government litigation and is frequently instructed to assist with judicial reviews, internal investigations and public enquiries. In the non-contentious space the group, led by Rory Alexander , is experienced in handling a wide range of matters arising from public sector projects, most notably planning and environmental matters, but it also advises on election law and governance structures.

Practice head(s):

Rory Alexander

Key clients

The City of Edinburgh Council

Glasgow City Council

Aberdeen City Council

Orkney Islands Council

East Lothian Council

Aberdeenshire Council

Highland Council

West Lothian Council

Environment Agency

Work highlights

  • Advised the Strategic Development Planning Authority (the SDPA) on a Supreme Court appeal in respect of a challenge by Elsick Development Company against the SDPA’s Supplementary Guidance which seeks contributions to a strategic transport fund.
  • Assisting the City of Edinburgh Council with an application for a proposed residential development, local centre and community facilities at East of Millburn Tower, Edinburgh.
  • Advising the council on an appeal by West Craigs against the refusal of planning permission for a residential and commercial development at West Craigs.
  • Acting for Aberdeen City Council in defence of a legal challenge by objectors to the new Aberdeen Football Club stadium at Kingsford in Aberdeen following the council’s permission for the new £50m stadium.
  • Acted for Jordanhill Community Council in a judicial review of a decision of Glasgow City Council to grant planning permission for a large residential development on the site of the University of Strathclyde’s Jordanhill College.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn is well known for assisting local government clients and ALEOs owned by local governments with a wide range of project development, property, construction, procurement and planning matters. Recently, the practice has been particularly active advising on new housing, education and urban regeneration projects. Neil Maclean is the main contact following Rhona Harper's move to an in-house role in February 2018.

Practice head(s):

Neil Maclean

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Colliston; Euan McLeod; Ewan MacLeod

Key clients

West Dunbartonshire Council

West Lothian Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

East Ayrshire Council

Scottish Enterprise

South Ayrshire Council

Fife Council

Wheatley Housing

Dumfries and Galloway Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Work highlights

  • Advising the local authority on the procurement of UK’s first large-scale water source heat pump district heating system at the Queen’s Quay regeneration site in Clydebank.
  • Advising on all aspects of the legal documentation pertaining to its City Deal Project including a Tri-Partite Agreement between the council, the developer and the Scottish ministers.
  • Advised the council on its £40m Queensferry High School hub DBFM project. This involved assistance with procurement documentation and negotiating project-specific amendments to the Standard Form DBFM Agreement.
  • Advising East Ayrshire Council (EAC) on its procurement of new early childhood centres in Kilmaurs, Stewarton and Netherthird.
  • Advised the council on the procurement of its Transport and Infrastructure Framework, which involved the creation of a bespoke framework agreement.