Parliamentary and public affairs in Scotland

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern's impressive client base includes a large number of local authorities and higher educational establishments which benefit from the team's wide-ranging skill set. Regular work includes statutory interpretations of legislation, primary and secondary legislation draftings, government bill amendments and Brexit-related matters. The 'highly regardedFiona Killen is the main contact.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Killen

Other key lawyers:

Alastair McKie; Robert Carr


The combination of excellent customer service and good legal advice makes the practice unique.’

Fiona Killen goes above and beyond. She explains things clearly, sets out options and risks and is completely costumer-focused.

Fiona Killen makes you feel like you are her only client.

Key clients

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Scottish Information Commissioner

Scottish Police Authority

University of the Highlands and Islands

Pow of Inchaffray Commissioners

Glasgow Caledonian University

Edinburgh Napier University

Crown Estate Scotland

The Scottish Government

University of St Andrews

Work highlights

  • Ongoing advice on matters of statutory interpretation relating to its current functions under the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002, the  scope of powers of the SPSO and any proposals being considered to expand its role as a complaints-handling body in Scotland.
  • Acted for the SIC in respect of an appeal by William Beggs against a decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner.
  • Advising four higher education institutions on matters relating to the interpretation of the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016.
  • Advising the Pow of Inchaffray Commissioners on their promotion of a private bill to update their governing statute in the form of a Victorian Act of the Westminster Parliament dated 1846, based on an older Act of the Scottish Parliament stemming back more than 300 years.
  • Advising a number of Scottish public bodies on Brexit-related matters such the implications for them as an employer, including recruitment issues, EU citizens rights and arrangements for residency applications.

Brodies LLP

With superb reputation for its handling of all aspects of parliamentary and public affairs, including legislative drafting, public law litigation and EU public law matters, Brodies LLP receives frequent instructions from various public sector clients and commercial organisations. Its client roster includes the Scottish government, local governments, utilities, Scottish and UK regulators, colleges and universities as well as charities. The 'highly experienced and extremely responsive' practice is led by the 'highly regarded' Christine O’Neill and includes Charles Livingstone, who is recommended for his 'broad expertise'.

Practice head(s):

Christine O’Neill

Other key lawyers:

Jackie McGuire; Charles Livingstone


Without hesitation, Christine O’Neill is the best public lawyer in practice in Scotland.

Leading public law solicitors in Scotland.

Christine O’Neill admirably combines experience and understanding while also being very approachable.

The team has extremely strong public law knowledge and experience.

Provides robust advice.

The team’s open and friendly manner coupled with a pragmatic approach is extremely helpful.

Always well prepared and definitely on top of the law.

Charles Livingstone has a fine eye for detail and an immense capacity for hard work.

Key clients

The Scottish Government

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB)

Lerwick Port Authority


Scottish Housing Regulator

Royal Incorporation of Hutcheson’s Hospital

Scotch Whisky Association

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

The City of Edinburgh Council

Perth and Kinross Council

Glasgow City Council

Work highlights

  • Christine O’Neill acted as junior counsel for the Lord Advocate in the defence of the UK Government’s challenge to the UK withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill, the first time the UK Government had referred a Scottish Parliament bill to the Supreme Court.
  • Advising this Scottish charity on the promotion of a private bill in the Scottish Parliament; the bill will modernise the charity’s governance arrangements by transferring its assets to a new Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and thereafter dissolve the current body and repeal the 19th century legislation under which it has most recently been constituted.
  • Assisting Lerwick Port Authority with the promotion of harbour revision orders (HROs) to enable the expansion of the port to accommodate business activity, including North Sea oil and gas decommissioning activity.
  • Advised the client on various issues including the powers to intervene in the affairs of registered social landlords and on whether a local authority was discharging its duties with regard to homelessness, among other matters.
  • Drafted the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Repeal) (Scotland) Act 2018, a Scottish Parliament Member’s Bill introduced to repeal legislation passed following a number of controversial incidents at and around football matches.

DLA Piper

The 'impressive' team at DLA Piper Scotland LLP is led by the 'highly experienced' Hazel Moffat and is well equipped to guide public sector clients as well as food and drink, manufacturing and energy industry players through the full spectrum of parliamentary and public affairs issues. Much of its work pertains to judicial reviews, public inquiries, government structures and regulatory framework draftings.

Practice head(s):

Hazel Moffat

Other key lawyers:

James McGachie


Hazel Moffat is very smart, intuitive and very easy to work with.

Key clients

Institute of Apprenticeships


The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Heineken UK

Market Operator Services

Transport for the North

Scottish Police Authority

Airbus Helicopter



Work highlights

  • Advising The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the Magnox Inquiry, investigating the award of the Magnox decommissioning contract by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and its subsequent termination.
  • Ongoing advice on the small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act (SBEEA) and the Pubs Code; recently, the team has been advising and defending the first tranche of arbitrations raised by tenants and addressed policy issues and drafting errors in the statutory Pubs Code to the government.
  • Advised on issues relating to the delegation of powers from local and central government to TfN.
  • Advising the SPA on judicial review cases brought against them by police officers in relation to decisions by the SPA to refuse applications for ill health retirement.
  • Represented Ineos in its application for judicial review of the Scottish Government ban on onshore unconventional gas (fracking ban).


The multi-disciplinary team at CMS is led by Ann Faulds and is best known for advising local authorities on primary and secondary legislation matters pertaining to large-scale infrastructure and other development projects including associated public inquiries.

Practice head(s):

Ann Faulds

Other key lawyers:

Michael McAuley; Ailsa Ritchie; Eleanor Lane; Graeme Young; Shona Frame

Key clients

Glasgow School of Art

Renfrewshire Council

The City of Edinburgh Council

Calton Hill Hotel

Work highlights

  • Supported Glasgow School of Art in the Scottish Parliament’s investigation into the fires in the Mackintosh Building; this included assistance with the drafting of written submissions to the  Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee during evidence sessions, and with responding to the evidence of other parties who have been critical of GSA.
  • Advising Renfrewshire Council on its Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA) and Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside (CWRR) projects which are being promoted as part of the £1.13bn Glasgow City Region City Deal.
  • Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on preparations for the extension of the Edinburgh Trams project. This included advice on securing the necessary land and land rights through the use of compulsory purchase powers, the review and amendment of third party agreements and the securing of rights to allow the council to attach fixings for overhead lines to buildings.
  • Advising the developers on a major public inquiry into hotel proposals for the former Royal High School.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP receives a steady flow of instructions from local authorities and other public sector bodies but it also acts for corporates and individuals. Its recent workload included a number of judicial reviews and statutory appeal cases, public procurement matters and regulatory and legislative issues arising from major sporting events. Derek Hogg, James McMorrow and 'complete starJennifer Jack jointly head the 'great' team.

Practice head(s):

Derek Hogg; James McMorrow; Jennifer Jack


Supremely well prepared.

Nothing is too much trouble for the team.

Totally reliable.’

Jennifer Jack is utterly dependable, even in the most pressing circumstances. More than that, she is a very bright lawyer and an astute tactician.

Key clients

Tom Brake MP and Chris Leslie MP

The Scottish Government

Scottish Natural Heritage

Revenue Scotland

Registers of Scotland

Forestry Commission Scotland

The City of Edinburgh Council

Glasgow City Council

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Work highlights

  • Representing MPs Tom Brake (LibDem Brexit spokesperson) and Chris Leslie (Labour) in the high-profile case seeking declarator specifying whether the UK’s Article 50 notification of its intention to leave the EU may be unilaterally revoked.
  • Advising the client on the Scottish Government’s proposals to make housing associations in Scotland subject to freedom of information laws from April 2019, subject to a parliamentary vote.
  • Acted for the client in Right to Roam legislation matters and associated proceedings relating to the public access over the Drumlean Estate in Argyll, where the landowner had erected fencing, gates and signage to prevent and deter members of the public from exercising their statutory access rights under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
  • Representing the client in the public inquiry arising from a planning appeal on the proposed re-development of the former Royal High School of Edinburgh (RHS).
  • Appointed, through GCC, as sole legal advisors to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, advising on a range of issues relating to the hosting of the championships, including procurement, regulatory and commercial matters, negotiations between the council and various sports federations, and the procurement of ICT services, among others.