Parliamentary and public affairs in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP maintains an ‘excellent‘ parliamentary practice and is considered the go-to by many on complex Scottish law, particularly on constitutional and legislative matters. The group has demonstrable strength in legislative drafting with highly rated practice head Christine O’Neill and Charles Livingstone both being the key contacts here, and receive instructions from the Scottish Parliament and government bodies. Constitutional litigation and high-profile public inquiries also make up the core specialisms; in a representative matter; the team continues to act for the Scottish Government before the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. Public sector disputes are handled by Niall McLean. The group has an active pro-bono practice advising leading NGO’s and charities.

Practice head(s):

Christine O’Neill KC

Other key lawyers:

Charles Livingstone; Niall McLean


‘Brodies are stand-out in terms of their legal knowledge in the area of constitutional and legislative matters. Brodies are my go-to firm for this type of work where Scots law is needed. Their experience is exemplary and their depth of knowledge is highly evident in their clear advice on often complex issues. When they are advising UK Government clients on matters of national or taxpayer importance, they get to the heart of the issues quickly and apply sound judgment to steer the clients in their decision-making on parliamentary matters.’

‘Extremely high level of technical knowledge and quick response time. Brodies also offer real value for money. Charles Livingstone is a standout performer with great technical knowledge.’

‘Christine O’Neill is one of the best lawyers I have come across. Her expertise in her area of law is unparalleled as are her communication skills (both internally and externally). She is very strategic in her thinking and approach. Christine provides a range of skills and expertise that one normally requires a team for.’

‘One of Brodies’ key strengths comes from the breadth and depth of their offering, with quality across their practice areas and the ability to service their clients needs in all key commercial areas.’

‘Charles Livingstone is an astute lawyer with a deep understanding of both the substantive and the procedural issues arising in public law cases, as well as of the political and commercial dimensions of public law litigation on key issues for the economy of Scotland and the UK more generally.’

‘Brodies offers an all-round service with specialist partners in the full round of public law and commercial law. Charles Livingstone is measured and effective and thorough.’

The Brodies team are excellent in helping us deal with tricky issues when they arise. Christine O’Neill provides excellent legal advice and is unfailingly patient and helpful.

Key clients

Scottish Renewables

JustRight Scotland

Scottish Government

Scotch Whisky Association

Law Society of Scotland

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body


Scottish Land and Estates

Scottish Refugee Council

City of Edinburgh Council

Work highlights

  • Commissioned by JustRight Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council to provide a formal opinion on the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill and how the Bill would affect devolved Scottish powers and responsibilities in a range of areas including local authority support and health services.
  • Advised City of Edinburgh Council on proposals for a Low Emission Zone to improve air quality in Edinburgh.
  • Advising Argyll & Bute Council and Annan Harbour Action Group on harbour revision orders.

Burness Paull LLP

At Burness Paull LLP, the practice is singled out for its ‘extensive experience within the sector’ and is well-placed to handle a range of parliamentary issues and sensitive public inquiries for Scottish governmental bodies. Hazel Moffat leads the group which is made includes the ‘exceptional’ Fiona Killen who is the key name for drafting legislation, judicial review, and contentious public law matters. The team also advises on statutory interpretation.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Moffat

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Killen


‘Burness Paull are extremely approachable and have the knack of being able to explain complex legal concepts in lay terms.’

‘The advice they give is considered and relevant.’

‘The format for instruction is clear and very well structured.’

‘The added extras, such as newsletters, workshops and webinars are informative and relevant.’

‘Fiona Killen is exceptionally knowledgeable about the the public sector and administrative law. What makes her stand out is her underlying knowledge about the context and development of public law.’

‘Fiona Killen is an exceptional networker and generous with sharing her contacts.’ 

‘Fiona Killen is hugely experienced in public law matters, particularly issues around the devolution settlement and the limits of the Scottish Parliament’s competence.’

Hazel Moffat possesses a high level of individual knowledge and experience in the sector which is very beneficial to our organisation.’

Key clients

First Division Association and various current and former individual members

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Audit Scotland

Scottish Funding Council

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Odfjell Drilling (UK) Ltd

University of the West of Scotland

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise

Association of Scottish Self-Caterers

Work highlights

  • Acted for certain witnesses to the Scottish Parliament’s high profile Inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints.
  • Represented Highland and Islands Enterprise in a judicial review raised by an individual challenging a funding decision made by HIE to a third party, from a fund created during the pandemic to support businesses.
  • Advised the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers on the legality of draft secondary legislation proposed by the Scottish Government and being considered by the Scottish Parliament which would bring in the first licensing regime of its kind of short term lets in Europe.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern is known for its statutory interpretation expertise, and is frequently instructed by the Scottish Parliament on topical issues including Covid-19 and Brexit. The practice is led by Robert Carr in Edinburgh and remains active in the education and health sectors.

Practice head(s):

Robert Carr

Work highlights

    Balfour+Manson LLP

    Balfour+Manson LLP has a proven track record of acting in the contentious space, representing various individuals and corporations in relation to high-profile public authority decisions. Headed by seasoned litigator Elaine J Motion , the team has a track record of successfully acting in disputes and high-profile judicial reviews which Sindi Mules  is the main contact for; and remains highly rated by peers.

    Practice head(s):

    Elaine Motion

    Other key lawyers:

    Sindi Mules


    ‘Balfour and Manson are responsive, professional and go above and beyond to assist in all matters. their professionalism and competence is second to none in this area.’

    ‘Sindi Mules is in my view the most skilled solicitor in this area. Her professionalism, knowledge, efficiency and approach are consistently outstanding. I would not consider instructing another agent in this area. Sindis communication skills make working with her very straightforward and I know I can always rely upon her to get any task done expeditiously and competently.’

    Elaine Motion is the stand out partner for cutting edge public law and constitutional law work. She is always two steps ahead of both counsel and her opponent solicitors in any litigation. She has also created a fantastic team of solicitors who have been trained to her almost impossibly high standards. Among the standouts are her fellow litigation partner Sindi Mules, as well as the relatively recently qualified assistant Lauren Smith and Findlay Glynn.’

    Elaine Motion is a star individual in this area. Her tenacity is appreciated by clients in difficult cases.’

    ‘BM has, undoubtedly, the strongest and most experienced petitioner practice in Scotland. They are involved in every high profile judicial review that takes place and have been responsible for big changes in the law and for cases such as the Article 50 (Wightman) case and the prorogation of parliament (Cherry) case. They are – without doubt – the best in the business when it comes to this area of the law.’

    Elaine Motion and Sindi Mules are simply at the top of the game. They are pretty much unrivalled in their ability and their experience. They give realistic and pragmatic advice in a way that clients understand and appreciate. Whilst still quite junior in the team, Lauren Smith is excellent. She is bright, enthusiastic, dedicated and un-phased by having to bring big challenges against the Government which is what this area of the law depends upon.’

    This practice is a stand out leader in Scotland for parliamentary and public affairs. I have personally worked with Elaine Motion for a long time – most recently on a successful Judicial review against the Scottish Government for the milk industry association. Her grasp of the law, the likely response of particular members of the judiciary, the politics and the media are execptional. They are extremely well organised and ran the technical and court sides of the work to a high standard.


    Key clients

    The School and Nursery Milk Alliance Limited

    Fair Play for Women Ltd

    The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

    The Ramblers’ Association

    Commissioner for Children and Young People Scotland

    Canon Thomas White

    For Women Scotland Ltd

    Martin Keatings

    Niall Finucane

    Shelter Scotland

    Work highlights

    • Acted for The School and Nursery Milk Alliance Ltd in a successful challenge to the Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2021 introduced by the Scottish Government.
    • Act for Fair Play for Women Ltd in a judicial review of the guidance issued by the National Records of Scotland to accompany the “sex question” in the 2022 Scottish Census.
    • Acted for Canon Thomas White in the successful challenge to the Scottish Government’s restrictions on place of worship in Scotland.