Media and entertainment in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Praised for its capabilities in ‘all sizes and types of disputes’, Brodies LLP‘s interdisciplinary team maintains a strong reputation management offering, in addition to its wide-reaching commercial media practice. Firm chair Christine O’Neill is a seasoned Queen’s Counsel specialising in defamation and reputation management, working with some of the world’s leading broadcasters and content platforms on media law disputes and injunctive proceedings.  Niall McLean is widely praised by clients for his capabilities in contentious matters, with recent engagements including litigations and reputation management advice for high-profile individuals and major corporations. Commercial lead Martin Sloan advises widely on contracts, IP, and data issues, serving as a key port of call for major Scottish publishers and international production studios alike. Senior associate Sarah McCormick, who joined the practice from Dentons in August 2021, possesses significant experience in reputation management and media law, working with public broadcasters on defamation, privacy, and contempt of court issues. All named lawyers are based in Edinburgh unless noted otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Christine O’Neill KC; Martin Sloan

Other key lawyers:

Niall McLean; Sarah McCormick


‘Working with Sarah McCormick was easy and straightforward from the beginning to the end.’

‘Sarah McCormick is excellent at what she does and I was lucky to have her advice throughout the process.’

‘The advice was practical and pragmatic, but robust at the same time. I felt that I could always get hold of them when I needed them and there was no questions too simple or basic.’

‘Niall McLean was calm and considered when giving his advice. He understood the pressure points that were making the position difficult for us and released the pressure by providing focused advice and practical answers to our questions.’ 

‘A good knowledgeable team capable of handling all sizes and types of disputes.’

‘Niall McLean is very knowledgeable and commercial.’

‘Robin Mackintosh is knowledgeable and unflappable.’



Key clients

Meta (Facebook)


DC Thomson

Rewards4 Group

MG Alba (broadcaster of BBC Alba, in partnership with the BBC)

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

National Theatre of Scotland



Work highlights

  • Retained by BBC Scotland to provide “on call” legal advice to Scotland journalists and current affairs staff.
  • Advising a Hollywood studio and global media group on COVID-19 regulations in relation to TV and film production in Scotland.
  • Advising Mowi on advertising and PR agency contracts and other matters in connection with the UK launch of the Mowi Salmon brand.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP works with some of the most high-profile media organisations and public figures on a litany of commercial and contentious mandates, ranging from counter-infringement enforcement programmes to media law disputes. Practice head Grant Stevenson is highly experienced in corporate finance transactions, leading a multitude of high-profile acquisitions and investments for high-profile Scottish media companies. ‘Sharp negotiatorKirsteen MacDonald exclusively handles media sector disputes, spearheading high-profile defamation actions, leading judicial reviews on behalf of public broadcasters, and working on reputation management issues for production companies and governing bodies. IP partner Colin Hulme is noted for his prolific rights enforcement practice. The ‘dedicated and thorough‘ associate Rebecca Ablett is also recommended. All named lawyers are based in Glasgow.

Practice head(s):

Grant Stevenson

Other key lawyers:

Kirsteen MacDonald; Colin Hulme; Rebecca Ablett


‘Burness Paull were able to reach out very quickly to experts in their field at very short notice for a proof and also had someone capable of running with the case on the team when the senior advocate was dealing with a family emergency. They got to grips with a very complex case under pressure and were able to summarise it very simply in court. They were available round the clock to deal with any problems arising and were thoroughly professional in everything they did.’

‘Kirsteen MacDonald is bright, sharp and a good negotiator.’

‘Rebecca Ablett is dedicated, clever and thorough.’

Key clients

STV Group plc

Neptune Street Film Ltd

Comcast Corporation

Sky Limited

PPL PRS Limited


Rockstar Games

Independent Television News Ltd

BBC Scotland

Hachette (part of the Lagardère global publishing group)

Work highlights

  • Advising STV Group on the acquisition and investment into Hello Mary Productions, and the sale of STV’s external lottery management business.
  • Managing Sky’s enforcement programme across Scotland. This involves raising copyright infringement proceedings to prevent unauthorised broadcasts of Sky’s sporting events in licensed premises throughout Scotland.
  • Advising BBC Scotland on all media law matters including contempt, defamation, privacy and contentious copyright.

Anderson Strathern

Anderson Strathern enjoys a stellar reputation in the Scottish market, working with a sterling roster of publishing houses, cultural organisations, and individual artists on various corporate and commercial projects. The team is also noted for its growing film and television production practice, where Glasgow-based Douglas McLachlan and legal director Max Scharbert are a driving presence. The ‘first-class‘ practice chair Simon Brown possesses decades of experience advising publishing sector entities on a host of matters, and regularly opines on the industry in various forums. Employment partner Barry Nichol spearheads the firm’s theatre and performing arts initiative, routinely conducting comprehensive reviews for a number of charities operating within the space. On the contentious side, senior IP and media litigator Katrina Lumsdaine is highly experienced in defamation and breach of privacy cases before both the Sheriff Courts and the Court of Session. All named lawyers are based in Edinburgh unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Simon Brown

Other key lawyers:

Max Scharbert; Douglas McLachlan; Barry Nichol; Katrina Lumsdaine


‘Simon Brown is first class, offering high-level views and opinions. Insightful and gives considered, appropriate advice. At the top of his game.’

Key clients

The Great Tapestry of Scotland Charitable Trust

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

The Rangers Football Club Limited

Birlinn Limited

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Federation of Scottish Theatre

Penguin Random House

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

Whittles Publishing Limited

The National Library of Scotland

Publishing Scotland

Scottish Book Trust

South West Media Factory Productions Limited

Prepress Projects Limited

Fieldsports Press Limited

Andrew Mitchell/Safehouse (Scotland) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised SCTS on the project to create remote jury centres at Odeon and VUE cinemas across Scotland, enabling jury trials to be conducted safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Advised South West Media Factory Productions Limited on funding structure and suite of production contracts for the film “Stella”.
  • Advised Edinburgh Zoo on the business critical renewal of its “loan” arrangement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association for Yang Guang and Tian Tian, the only giant pandas in the UK.

Harper Macleod LLP

Led by the Edinburgh-based seasoned music industry specialist Jamie Watt, Harper Macleod LLP is regularly engaged by numerous blue-chip media organisations, governing bodies, and public figures for assistance in the full gamut of media sector matters. Tom Thomas‘ commercial capabilities see him advising on film and television production and location agreements, and sports broadcasting rights arrangements. E-Ming Fong and David Kerr anchor the team’s contentious offering, respectively focusing on sports betting and broadcasting disputes, while James McMorrow works with public sector clients on film production funding and location matters. All named lawyers are based in Glasgow unless stated otherwise.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Watt

Other key lawyers:

David Kerr; Tom Thomas; E-Ming Fong; James McMorrow


‘Very able lawyers with a sound grasp of the law who are also aware of the commercial realities of the industry.’

‘David Kerr is an extremely good lawyer who has a sound grasp of the law and is incredibly diligent and hard working. Is always available to his clients and provides clear advice on both legal issues and the commercial realities.’

Key clients

The Musicians Union

Publishing Scotland

Creative Scotland

Fitba Media


Celtic FC

Jack and Victor


The Linklater Voice Centre


Work highlights

  • Assisted The Musicians Union on the proposal, drafting and passage of a private members bill at the UK parliament addressing changes to the law relating to equitable remuneration for use of musical works.
  • Advised Creative Scotland on a complex, high value and high profile project for the creation of an international film and television production studio in Edinburgh.
  • Advised UEFA in relation to brand protection matters for Euro 2020/2021.

Thorntons Law LLP

Thorntons Law LLP's cross-disciplinary IP, media, and tech practice works with many of Scotland's leading production studios, publishers, and arts institutions on business-critical commercial and regulatory issues. Dundee-based managing partner Lesley Larg's far-reaching practice encompasses brand management, computer games, and live music, while Alastair Lang - who works between St. Andrews and Edinburgh - is a key port of call for major sports broadcasters and sponsors handling partnership and portfolio management issues. Dividing his time between Edinburgh and Glasgow, practice chair Liam McMonagle works with various film and television companies on IP-intensive matters. Dundee-based Kirsty Stewart focuses on music publishing and gaming-sector transactions.

Practice head(s):

Liam McMonagle

Other key lawyers:

Lesley Larg; Alistair Lang; Kirsty Stewart


‘Thorntons has a range of expertise, covering contracts to IP and advertising rules.’

Key clients

Design Dundee Limited (operators of V&A Dundee)

Beano Studios Ltd

Abertay University

Ant Workshop Limited

Stormcloud Games Limited

People’s Postcode Lottery

Snag Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Beano Studios Ltd on a partnership with Somerset House (London’s working arts centre) in relation to an exhibition of all assets relating to the famous Beano comic book range.
  • Advised Ant Workshop Ltd, a BAFTA-nominated games studio based in Scotland’s capital city, in connection with a seven figure equity investment it received from the investment arm of 4J Studios Limited.
  • Assisted with drafting and negotiating a sponsorship deal for a world-first partnership between the V&A Dundee Museum and Dalmore Whisky (owned by Whyte & Mackay).

BTO Solicitors LLP

Highly rated by clients for the depth of their music industry expertise, the Edinburgh-based BTO Solicitors LLP works with a myriad of artists, labels, promoters, and content platforms on various contentious and non-contentious matters. Practice head Paul Motion variously advises on artist management, production and recording contracts, and copyright licensing matters, while IP and cybersecurity specialist Lynn Richmond is noted for her commercial litigation credentials. Lauren McFarlane is recommended for her publishing sector expertise.

Practice head(s):

Paul Motion

Other key lawyers:

Lynn Richmond; Lauren McFarlane


‘We reached out to BTO after being recommended them by a fellow colleague in the music industry. We required the expertise of a firm with an entertainment unit and BTO were able to offer that. The offering of such a service in Scotland is unique and we are therefore extremely proud to be working alongside them, so much so that we would very much class them as part of our extended team.’

‘We would not hesitate in recommending BTO to colleagues within the industry, their personable, understanding and enthusiastic approach is quite unique in an area, that without them, would be almost impossible to navigate.’


Key clients

Paula Obrien Psychic Medium

Printerinks Europe Limited

Martin Metcalfe (Blokshok Productions)

Mallorca Lee

Jess Fox

Jammy Music

Julian Wagstaff

Kilsyth Burns & Old Parish Church

Gearbox Digital

Blackhall Records

Lamaya Ogunlesi

Briffa Legal

Work highlights

  • Representing Martin Metcalfe in unpaid royalties claims.
  • Representing Paula Obrien Psychic Medium in a contractual dispute


Leveraging its significant multinational footprint, CMS works with a wide variety of blue-chip MNCs and Scottish entities on both contentious and non-contentious matters. Practice chair Alan Nelson works with both public and private sector bodies on a range of contract negotiations, software licensing matters, and outsourcing deals. In Edinburgh, of counsel Cynthia Johnston‘s recent engagements include service agreements and commercial reviews for major hotel and leisure businesses, while Duncan Turner works closely with the corporate practice on media sector transactions. IP litigation head Neeraj Thomas regularly acts for major British and American studios in proceedings before the Court of Session. Senior associate Kimberley Cross assists major venues and agencies with the full spectrum of commercial matters, including sponsorships and media buying agreements. All named lawyers are based in Glasgow unless stated otherwise. 

Practice head(s):

Alan Nelson

Other key lawyers:

Cynthia Johnston; Duncan Turner; Neeraj Thomas; Kimberley Cross


‘Alan Nelson always makes himself available and provides valuable legal advice.’

‘We ask CMS for advice on a wide variety of areas, some of them are a bit left-field at times. They analyse the situation, ask us some thought provoking questions and base the legal advice on the clients’ requirements and the individual situation. As a business that had to repurpose itself through the pandemic, the service and advice was always first class, delivered promptly and had the benefit of supporting our already strong client relationships.’

Key clients

Scottish Event Campus (“SEC”)

ITV plc

Warner Bros Entertainment Inc

Sky Limited (and related companies Sky International AG and Sky UK Limited)

Microsoft Corporation

Unilever UK Central Resources Limited and other members of the Unilever Group

National Museums Scotland


Gleneagles Hotel Ltd and its subsidiary, Gleneagles Townhouse Edinburgh Ltd

St James Quarter (GP) Limited

Work highlights

  • Appointed to advise on research agreements for Facebook’s augmented and virtual reality offerings, securing contracts with various academic institutions.
  • Advising the Scottish Event Campus on a broad range of matters in relation to the OVO Hydro (formerly called The SSE Hydro).
  • Advising ITV with respect to a ‘Love Island’ intellectual property dispute, resulting in a successful interim interdict against an online seller marketing personalised bottles and suitcases infringing on ITV’s Love Island brand.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper regularly assists a diverse array of clients with significant commercial and advisory matters, ranging from sponsorship and online marketing issues to supply services agreements. John McKinlay is a key advisor to some of Europe’s largest leisure businesses and venue operators, handling the full gamut of media rights, content licensing, and associated IP issues. Alistair Drummond, chair of the Scottish litigation and regulatory practice, represents clients in claims and arbitrations, most recently in relation to Covid-induced lease terminations. Senior associate Catriona Melton is recommended for her capabilities in entertainment industry matters. All named lawyers are based in Edinburgh.

Practice head(s):

John McKinlay

Other key lawyers:

Alastair Drummond; Catriona Melton

Key clients

Merlin Entertainments

Lothian Amusements Limited

Odeon Cinemas

The Football Association of the Premier League

Admiral Taverns

Ambassador Theatre Group

Intercontinental Hotels Group plc

Leonardo Hotels

Work highlights

  • Advising Merlin Entertainments, on promotion, marketing and branding contracts, and IP issues.
  • Advising London International Exhibition Centre plc on their creation of a bespoke Audio-Visual Services Agreement with Anna Valley Limited, for light, sound and special effects for events at the London ExCel centre.