Local government in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP's multidisciplinary team led by public law specialist Jackie McGuire acts for an extensive roster of city councils, who regularly receive assistance with major infrastructure projects and construction developments, including various planning, procurement, real estate, commercial and environmental matters. Providing day-to-day employment law advice and assistance with contentious matters constitutes another key element of the practice. Senior associate Niall McLean has particular strength in the latter.

Practice head(s):

Jackie McGuire

Testimonials

First rate, top of the game in Scotland.

Niall MacLean and Jackie McGuire are very experienced in their field, providing first-rate output.

Key clients

The City of Edinburgh Council

Glasgow City Council

Aberdeen City Council

Aberdeenshire Council

West Lothian Council

East Lothian Council

Clackmannanshire Council

Falkirk Council

Stirling Council

Audit Scotland and Accounts Commission

Perth and Kinross Council

East Dunbartonshire Council

West Dunbartonshire Council

West Lothian Council

Argyll and Bute Council

Scottish Borders Council

COSLA

Fife Council

Angus Council

Midlothian Council

Shetlands Islands Council

Wheatley Housing Group (Glasgow City Housing)

Work highlights

  • Instructed by Perth and Kinross Council to advise on land assembly, planning, environmental and other regulatory matters pertaining to the Cross Tay Link Road project.
  • Ongoing advice to Argyll and Bute Council on a wide range of matters, including a judicial review of a planning decision, various employment issues, waste collection duties, contentious property matters and the procurement of major works, among others.
  • Advising Falkirk Council on multiple matters, including the procurement of a new council HQ, the delivery of new roads infrastructure and a mixed-use development, alongside contentious real estate matters and various planning and environmental matters.
  • Providing assistance to East Lothian Council with repossessions, the recovery of rent arrears and anti-social behaviour orders.
  • Providing regular advice to the City of Edinburgh Council on a wide range of matters; recently, this included, among other issues, assistance with property transactions, the disposal and appropriation of common good land, internal investigations and with contentious and non-contentious procurement and construction work.

Anderson Strathern

Local authorities regularly instruct Anderson Strathern to assist with M&A on one hand and with matters arising from education sector and housing developments alongside energy projects on the other. The second pillar involves instructions on commercial, procurement, governance, property and construction matters arising from these projects. Its contentious capabilities are played out in judicial review proceedings and eviction orders, among others. Team head Audrey Cameron specialises in the delivery of large infrastructure, transport and regeneration schemes.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Cameron

Testimonials

Approachable, considerate, great depth of knowledge and good to work with.

Clear, straightforward, proactive and supportive and knowledgeable approach.

Key clients

Shetland Islands Council

Fife Council

Midlothian Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Live Borders

Jobs & Business Glasgow

Clyde Gateway

Woking Borough Council

Glasgow City Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Shetland Islands Council on a potential merger with NAFC Marine Centre.
  • Acted for Fife Council in the sale of Viewforth High School and Eastbank House to Edinburgh-based property developers and investors.
  • Assisted Clyde Gateway with the sale of Plot 4 Clyde Gateway East to Harris Finance.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP's strength lies in advising local authorities and associated charitable bodies on commercial matters, most notably those at the property intersection, alongside governance and corporate structures as well as on charity law. These key elements also form part of team head Stephen Phillips' set of expertise and frequently pertain to the delivery of major public sector projects, public sector offshoots and partnerships alongside social enterprises.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Phillips

Other key lawyers:

Graeme Palmer; Steven McKinlay

Testimonials

The team truly understands the public sector and provides legal advice based on the relevant local authority risk appetite. Some other firms are very risk averse, and this can be very unhelpful. The team is also down-to-earth, creates good working relationships, avoids unnecessary legalese and is generally great to deal with and to work with.

Certain individuals are real experts in their field, having worked in the area for many years. Some have lived and breathed private sector work and have a wealth and depth of experience. Some are also seen as leading lights and have great influence in certain sectors.

Key clients

Glasgow City Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Perth and Kinross Council

Renfrewshire Council

Falkirk Council

Clackmannanshire Council

East Renfrewshire Council

East Ayrshire Council

Orkney Islands Council

South Lanarkshire Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Glasgow City Council on the sale and leaseback of significant Glasgow landmarks to fund equal pay settlement payments.
  • Advised Scottish Enterprise on the investment in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland Project (AMIDS).
  • Advising Scottish Futures Trust on property sharing arrangements across all Scottish public authorities.
  • Assisted the City of Edinburgh Council with the development of a new partnership procurement process concerning Edinburgh Trams.
  • Advised Riverside Inverclyde on the adoption of a new operating model, reflecting the outcome of an options appraisal by Inverclyde Council.

CMS

Following former co-head Ann Faulds' retirement in April 2019, Ailsa Ritchie now co-heads CMS' team with Mark McMurray, who was promoted to partner in May 2019 and, like Ritchie and the team as a whole, has a focus on large-scale infrastructure and development projects. This specialism translates into a steady stream of instructions involving planning, construction, procurement and property matters. The team is also well versed in assisting local authorities with various contractual arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Ailsa Ritchie; Mark McMurray

Key clients

Stirling Council

East Renfrewshire Council

Moray Council

Glasgow City Council

Renfrewshire Council

Argyll and Bute Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Orkney Islands Council

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Aberdeen City Council

Aberdeenshire Council

Shetland Islands Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Scottish Borders Council

Work highlights

  • Advice to Renfrewshire Council on its Glasgow Airport Investment Area and Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside (CWRR) projects promoted as part of the £1bn Glasgow City Region Deal.
  • Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on the proposed extension of the Edinburgh Tram to Newhaven, including advice on the acquisition of land, voluntarily and compulsorily, and on securing statutory consents required for attaching overhead line equipment to buildings.
  • Advised Argyll and Bute Council on the contracts for a £100m programme for the construction of several new schools.
  • Advising Stirling Council on a number of planning matters, most notably the Park of Keir tennis and golf centre promoted by Judy Murray.
  • Advising East Renfrewshire Council on construction and property agreements with Scottish Water to facilitate a road realignment as part of the improvement of Aurs Road, the road connecting Newton Mearns and Barrhead.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP is regularly called upon to provide assistance with funding projects alongside public procurement, state aid and investment matters arising from various large projects. This is complemented with corporate and transactional capabilities. The practice also has a strong contentious arm, representing local authorities in various court actions, which regularly involve claims of professional negligence and breaches of contract. Co-head Jennifer Jack is well versed in defending judicial reviews and statutory appeals, while co-head James McMorrow is a key contact for corporate, commercial, regulatory and public procurement matters. Another key contact for public procurement as well as competition law is Jill Fryer, who made partner in April 2019. Collette Miller, who focuses on governance, regulatory and constitutional issues, was elevated to the partnership at the same time.

Practice head(s):

James McMorrow; Jennifer Jack

Testimonials

The team was terrific to deal with, very knowledgeable and very responsive to our needs. They listened to what we needed and responded accordingly, whereas some other firms are simply not on the same wavelength and are very risk-averse.

The knowledge and advice their team has is immeasurable.

Specialist contractual knowledge of Hub contracts and understanding of business.

The individuals we dealt with were all very down-to-earth, approachable, responsive and listed to what we needed. It was great team work.

Key clients

Glasgow City Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

The Highland Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Moray Council

East Renfrewshire Council

Aberdeen City Council

Shetland Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council)

Work highlights

  • Advised Glasgow City Council on its project to raise funding in order to fund a significant equal pay settlement agreed with its employees.
  • Advising Glasgow City Council on its procurement of a complex alliance contracting solution to prevent and alleviate homelessness in Glasgow under the competitive dialogue procedure.
  • Acting for Shetland Islands Council (SIC) in a circa £4.5m claim in the Court of Session for damages for breach of a building contract and negligence, brought against the principal contractor and sub-contracted engineers who developed SIC’s headquarters in Lerwick. Also advised the client on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Shetland Leasing & Property Developments Limited.
  • Instructed by Inverclyde Council to advise on its investment alongside Peel Ports Clydeport to extend current facilities at Greenock under the Ocean Terminal City Deal Project.
  • Defending Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) in a court action pertaining to the procurement of a multi-million pound regeneration project in the Outer Hebrides.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser has a strong profile for contentious matters and frequently acts for local authorities in proceedings - including judicial reviews and statutory appeals - pertaining to planning permissions and objections to developments, as well as in commercial actions and housing-related litigation. In the non-contentious space, the practice is well versed in handling planning matters arising from mixed-use developments and stadiums. Planning and governance expert Rory Alexander heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Rory Alexander

Testimonials

Good experience of issues which affect local authorities with regard to commercial projects such as wind farm developments.

Key clients

The City of Edinburgh Council

Glasgow City Council

Aberdeen City Council

Orkney Islands Council

East Lothian Council

The Highland Council

West Lothian Council

Midlothian Council

Stirling Council

Moray Council

Work highlights

  • Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on a major residential-led  development at East of Millburn Tower, Edinburgh, the so-called Garden District. Advice has covered planning, compulsory purchase, property, governance and local government law.
  • Continues to advise Orkney Islands Council on the local authority powers of the council to establish an entity to take forward several community wind farm developments.
  • Instructed by Unison to assist with equal pay claims brought by its members against Glasgow City Council and associated employers. The team achieved a settlement of £555m.
  • Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on an appeal by West Craigs Ltd against the refusal of planning permission for a residential and commercial development.
  • Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on a planning application by Granton Central Developments Ltd to extend the duration of a planning permission for development at Granton Harbour Village, including residential units, a hotel and serviced apartments, shops, restaurants and cafes, public houses, general businesses, leisure facilities and marina.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Acting for local government and arm’s length organisations (ALEOs) owned by local government, Shepherd and Wedderburn is particularly experienced in providing advice on City Deals, alongside new housing and education projects. Frequently these instructions involve various contractual, procurement and construction law matters. Employment lawyer Neil Maclean is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Neil Maclean

Key clients

West Lothian Council

East Ayrshire Council

Scottish Enterprise

The City of Edinburgh Council

South Ayrshire Council

Fife Council

Acciona Industrial S.A.

Wheatley Housing Group

Work highlights

  • Advising West Lothian Council on all aspects of the legal documentation for the £15m Winchburgh City Deal project.
  • Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on the documentation suite for Lots 1 and 2 of its New Build Housing Framework.
  • Advised South Ayrshire Council on the refurbishment and redevelopment of the former Ayr Academy site in Ayr town centre.
  • Advising East Ayrshire Council on its procurement of new early childhood centres in Kilmaurs, Stewarton and Netherthird in a project procured using the Scottish Government’s hub initiative.
  • Advising Fife Council on a variation to its Levenmouth School Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) project.

MacRoberts LLP

Working in conjunction with its employment, project finance and construction teams, MacRoberts LLP is well placed to handle an array of contentious and non-contentious work for local authorities alongside third sector bodies, and has been particularly active handling matters at the interface with social care and charity law. Other regular work concerns procurement, redevelopment and employment matters. Procurement specialist Duncan Osler heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Osler

Other key lawyers:

Robin Fallas

Testimonials

We have complete faith in their ability; they provide excellent advice with their outstanding knowledge. They are so efficient and always respond back to us very promptly.

The team was extremely helpful and supportive. They knew the intricacies of dealing with local government and we had every confidence in their actions. There was always someone on hand to deal with our case.

Robin Fallas provides a first-class service and has helped us with his extensive knowledge in procurement law regulations. He is extremely approachable, efficient and professional and we have no hesitation in recommending his services.

Robin Fallas was exceptional. He is very approachable and explains everything so that it is understandable. He was confident in his actions and we were pleased with the outcome. His knowledge of his field of expertise was extensive.

Key clients

BIGG Regeneration

The Citizens Theatre

Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland

Social Work Scotland

North Ayrshire Council

West Lothian Council

Work highlights

  • Advised the Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS) on realigning the delivery of social care to the Self-Directed-Support legislation in Scotland.
  • Instructed by a new charity client to act on behalf of five service providing charity clients in exploring new contractual mechanisms to be put in place between a Scottish local authority and the providers to better address risk in local authority approaches to social care contracts.
  • Advised the Citizens Theatre on its proposed redevelopment and refurbishment of The Citizens Theatre. This included negotiating a new 99-year lease from the council; resolving funding arrangements with Creative Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, Glasgow City Council, RCGF and the Scottish Government; building contract and professional appointments; and public procurement.
  • Advised the Scottish Government on the running of the Civtech 4 programme, under which public bodies have run innovation challenges to seek solutions to problems they face.