Parliamentary and public affairs in Scotland

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern is acclaimed for its proficiency in legislative drafting and statutory interpretation of legislation in both the Scottish and UK parliaments, and for its extensive expertise in parliamentary procedures and standards. This skill set leads to regular instructions from government departments, regulatory authorities and commissioners.


The practice provides an excellent service, not only in relation to the actual legal advice and services provided, but also in relation to administration and additional services. In particular they invoice us timeously, keep us informed of potential changes to charges during a case, deliver training to our staff and offer access to additional services such as briefing sessions and workshops and an advice line. Mostly though, they are just great to work with.

Key clients

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)

Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC)

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC)

University of St Andrews

Glasgow Caledonian University

Universities Scotland

Royal College of Nursing Scotland

Crown Estate for Scotland

Audit Scotland

The Scottish Government

Work highlights

  • Advised the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) on the development of a draft Order (secondary legislation) to establish the SPSO as the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for the NHS in Scotland, through to the finalisation of the Order.
  • Advising the University of St Andrews on the amendment of its governing instruments (Ordinances) through the process of obtaining Orders in Council from Her Majesty in Council.
  • Advising the Scottish Information Commissioner on statutory interpretation; and acting for the client in statutory appeals in the Court of Session and the UK Supreme Court.
  • Advising the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland on a range of policy matters affecting RCN members across a range of health and social care issues.
  • Continued advice to Crown Estate Scotland (CES) on a range of constitutional and governance matters.

Brodies LLP

Known for its prowess on parliamentary and public affairs, Brodies LLP assists a wide range of public, private and third sector clients with legislative drafting, judicial reviews and public inquiries alongside local government and public procurement matters. Led by solicitor advocate Christine O’Neill, the practice is noted for its strong litigation capabilities and is a regular fixture on Brexit and Scottish independence debates. Charles Livingstone is another key member of the team and regularly handles legislative drafting and other parliamentary agent work.

Practice head(s):

Christine O’Neill


With a long and well-established Scots law practice, Brodies is breaking into the English market with new hires and the ability to leverage the strong relationships they have with clients in Scotland and Northern England.

Great experience in all matters relating to local authority work, first-class expertise. Top of the game in Scotland.

I really appreciated the speediness of response to my request, the interest in the topic and the level of detail that was provided.’

Brodies has provided an excellent level of support. They make significant effort to understand our organisation in order to contextualise advice and are proactive in bringing their experience in the sector and with other clients to our attention where relevant.

Charles Livingstone is thorough, diligent and highly intelligent – a winning combination which serves his clients well.

Jackie McGuire has great experience and judgment in local authority work.

Christine O’Neill is excellent.

Key clients

Royal Incorporation of Hutchesons’ Hospital in the City of Glasgow

Attorney General for Northern Ireland

The Scottish Government

Scotch Whisky Association

Law Society of Scotland

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

Gambling Commission

Argyll and Bute Council

Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care

Work highlights

  • Advised Royal Incorporation of Hutchesons’ Hospital in the City of Glasgow on the passage of the Hutcheson’s Hospital Transfer and Dissolution (Scotland) Act 2019, which the team drafted and piloted through the Scottish Parliament as a Private Bill.
  • Provides Brexit advice to the Scotch Whisky Association with a focus on EU food law and EU food labelling rules.
  • Acted for the Scottish Government as junior counsel to the Lord Advocate in a constitutional law case dealt with by the UK Supreme Court in 2019 following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen to suspend the UK Parliament for five weeks.
  • Instructed by the Law Society of Scotland to draft changes to its practice rules in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  • Continues to represent the Scottish Government before the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

Balfour+Manson LLP

Balfour+Manson LLP's strength lies in the contentious space, and in Brexit-related litigation in particular; this is not least due to team head and solicitor advocate Elaine Motion's extensive expertise in this area. Clients include politicians, charities, trade associations, environmental bodies and individuals.

Practice head(s):

Elaine Motion

Other key lawyers:

Sindi Mules


This firm has had an excellent year, taking on major public law cases in Scotland. Fully committed to serving its clients, but sensible and pragmatic at the same time.

Elaine Motion is as good as a public law solicitor gets. There is no opponent too powerful for her to take on and she is entirely unflappable in all circumstances. She is always prepared immaculately for every hearing and judges very regularly compliment her and her team for this. The calibre of the work that Balfour + Manson attracts is testament to the hard work, skill and dedication that Elaine has shown over a lifetime of work. I cannot recommend her highly enough.

Elaine Motion is a very good lawyer and communicator.

Sindi Mules is knowledgeable and very efficient.

Key clients

Joanna Cherry QC MP, Jolyon Maugham QC and 77 parliamentarians

Andy Wightman MSP, Ross Greer, MSP, Joanna Cherry QC MP, Alyn Smith MEP, David Martin MEP, Catherine Stihler MEP and Jolyon Maugham QC

Scottish National Party (SNP)

Shelter, The National Campaign for Homeless People Ltd

Dale Vince

Jolyon Maugham

Forward as One

Work highlights

  • Acted for over 70 cross-party parliamentarians in the successful challenge of the UK Government’s advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament between 9 September and 14 October 2019.
  • Acted for cross-party MPs, MSPs and MEPs and was successful in seeking a preliminary ruling reference from the CJEU which decided that the Article 50 TEU notification could be unilaterally revoked by a member state.
  • Acted for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in a judicial review of the decision of ITV Broadcasting Ltd to limit the ITV Leaders’ Debate on 19 November 2019 to the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties.
  • Acted for Shelter, the National Campaign for Homeless People Ltd in judicial review proceedings relating to the failures of Glasgow City Council and Glasgow City Integration Joint Board to have in place policies to enable compliance with their statutory duties to provide interim accommodation for homeless people.
  • Acted for the petitioners in two petitions to the Court of Session which sought the court to use its nobile officium power to sign a letter to the European leaders seeking an extension to the exit date, at the time, of 31 October 2019, in terms of the Benn Act, in the event that the Prime Minister refused to sign the letter.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP acts for public authorities and third sector clients in a wide range of parliamentary and public affairs matters: Derek Hogg regularly provides governance, regulatory and constitutional advice, while James McMorrow is a key contact for third sector work, and Jennifer Jack is noted for her expertise in handling judicial reviews and appeals against decisions of public authorities and regulators.

Key clients

The Scottish Government

The Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA) /Euro 2020

Scottish Natural Heritage

Historic Environment Scotland

Creative Scotland

Westminster Parliamentarians (Tom Brake and Chris Leslie)

Care Inspectorate

Forestry and Land Scotland

The City of Edinburgh Council

Glasgow City Council

Aberdeen City Council

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council)

Moray Council

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Work highlights

  • Advised the Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA) / Euro 2020 on the Scottish aspects of the 2020 European Championships, including advice on applicable laws in place in Scotland, and attending to the proposal, review and amendment of new legislation through the Scottish Parliament relating specifically to the event.
  • Representing Westminster MPs in a Court of Session case and reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union, seeking declarator that the UK’s Article 50 notification of its intention to leave the EU may be unilaterally revoked.
  • Representing Greenpeace UK, Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Netherlands in their defence of actions for interdict brought in the Court of Session by Shell, BP and Transocean Drilling following protests on oil rigs. The cases raise principles regarding the balance between rights to freedom of expression and protest in the context of the climate emergency, against the property rights of oil companies.
  • Advising Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on the review of its general licensing regime for the control of wild birds, following a successful challenge to the equivalent licensing programme in England and threat to raise a similar challenge in Scotland.
  • Assisted Bord Na Gaidhlig with a complaint it received that a local authority had not been implementing its Gaelic Language Plan.