Firm Profile > Morton Fraser > Edinburgh , Scotland

Morton Fraser

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 1

Morton Fraser's practice frequently represents executors in conflicts with other executors over their legal duties, and also acts for beneficiaries, individuals with Power of Attorney and trustees, often in matters where the clients are seeking to recover loans or entitlements owed to them. The firm has additional expertise proving the tenor of lost wills, and acting in unusual cross-jurisdictional matters including a trust variation case in the Court of Session. Private client head Sue Hunter, a qualified financial adviser, advises clients on the efficient structuring of business assets and acts for some of the firm's most significant commercial clients.

Debt recovery Tier 1

Morton Fraser is well versed in advising FCA-regulated clients and other lenders on internal processes and FCA requirements but the team led by Bill Stark also provides wide-ranging debt recovery services to public and education sector clients as well as self-invested personal pension (SIPP) providers, PLCs, SMEs and individuals.

Immigration Tier 1

With particular expertise in business immigration, Morton Fraser's strength lies in advising clients, including multinational companies, on Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applications, Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applications in the digital technology sector and Tier 2 sponsor licence suspension and revocation issues. As another key area of expertise, the team routinely handles relocation company work and assists individuals with personal immigration matters. David Hossack is the main contact.

Planning Tier 1

With particular strength in public sector work, Morton Fraser acts for a number of local planning authorities but the team, led by Douglas Milne, also undertakes private sector development work where it assists large organisations and private developers with residential and commercial development projects. As well as providing assistance with planning permission matters, the team (including associate and recommended contentious planning expert Ursula Currie) is also experienced in handling planning litigation, including compulsory purchase claims, and public local inquiries.

Commercial property: Edinburgh and Glasgow Tier 2

The property team at Morton Fraser has particular strengths in the student accommodation and telecoms sectors, where Brian Hutcheson and public sector specialist Amy Entwistle lead the work respectively. Elspeth Carson heads up the retail sub-group. Michael Ramsay recently became head of the real estate group with former team leader Jonathan Seddon focusing on construction work. Other areas of expertise for the team include investment issues, residential housing developments, estate management work and pensions-related matters. Alan Stewart joined the firm from Dentons.

Employment Tier 2

Acting for employer and employees across the public, private and third sectors, Morton Fraser fields a large team covering the gamut of employment law from non-contentious equal pay and TUPE-related corporate work to various employment tribunal cases, which typically involve discrimination, unfair dismissal and holiday pay claims. Its contentious abilities also include mediation. Innes Clark is 'very good' and heads the team, which includes legal director Alan Delaney; he joined the firm in April 2018 from Dentons and has significant experience of TUPE and restructuring issues.

Family Tier 2

Morton Fraser 's family law practice regularly advises on financial provision cases related to divorce proceedings, often involving complex disputes over what qualifies as matrimonial property, as well as regularly being instructed to handle contentious child law cases, including securing the return of children under the Hague Convention. The team, which is led out of Edinburgh by the long-serving Rhona Adams, also pursues claims for local authorities in child law cases and often acts in cross-border claims. Adams works alongside Lucia Clark in Edinburgh, while the 'feisty and highly engaged' Fiona Sasan is the lead partner in the firm's Glasgow office. Consultant solicitor Savita Sharma has acted in several international child law matters and intra-UK disputes over the appropriate jurisdiction to raise court proceedings. Trudy Burns joined as a senior solicitor from Turcan Connell in early 2019.

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

The team at Morton Fraser draws on experts from a range of specialist areas and disciplines including restructuring, litigation, banking, property, employment, financial crime and asset based lending. The group recently welcomed Alan Meek into the Glasgow office from MacRoberts LLP ; he jointly leads the group with non-contentious expert Iain Young. The team also includes insolvency litigation specialists Richard McMeeken in Edinburgh and Nicola Ross in Glasgow.

Licensing Tier 2

Morton Fraser's client roster consists of a wide range of public and private sector clients, most notably from the hospitality and food and drink industries. The team led by David Hossack is frequently involved in licensing procedures concerning hotels and visitor centres and has particular expertise in liquor licensing.

Local government Tier 2

The team at Morton Fraser has particular expertise in local government litigation and is frequently instructed to assist with judicial reviews, internal investigations and public enquiries. In the non-contentious space the group, led by Rory Alexander , is experienced in handling a wide range of matters arising from public sector projects, most notably planning and environmental matters, but it also advises on election law and governance structures.

Medical negligence: pursuer Tier 2

Morton Fraser's practice, which was boosted in late 2018 by the addition of former Shoosmiths lawyer Derek Couper, is particularly adept at pursuing delayed diagnosis cases, birth injury cases and fatal claims. Experienced practice head and solicitor advocate Jenny Dickson is an expert on the latest developments in the field, and handles a wide ambit of high value claims, including a substantial cerebral palsy claim. In 2018 the firm rolled out a range of legal aid options for clients requiring financial support.

Personal injury: defender Tier 2

Acting predominantly for major clients in the public sector, Morton Fraser’s personal injury practice deals with a high volume of asbestos and historical abuse claims, in addition to work deriving from road traffic accidents, serious brain injuries and employers’ liability claims. Practice head Jenny Dickson, who sits on the FOIL Disease Sector Focus Team, helped the firm to win a competitive tender process in 2018 to exclusively represent Royal Mail in the personal injury sphere.

Personal injury: pursuer Tier 2

Morton Fraser’s personal injury practice achieved a 50% surge in instructions in 2018, with cyclists claims for damages being a particular area of growth for the firm. The team is known for robustly pursuing fatal claims, in particular those brought by bereaved families of victims killed in road traffic accidents, and brings further expertise handling claims in all areas where there are potential health and safety breaches, such as major construction accidents and exposure to asbestos at work. Senior associate Nicola Edgar stands out for her instruction in a wide range of employers' and public liability claims.

Property litigation Tier 2

Morton Fraser acts for a broad private and public sector client base, including various blue-chip property investors and developers and a number of Scottish public authorities. Regular instructions include landlord and tenant disputes, eviction matters, and title and lease disputes. Kenneth Carruthers heads the team, which includes associate Ursula Currie; she frequently handles real estate and development-related disputes.

Agriculture and estates Tier 3

Morton Fraser advises major public sector clients on renewable energy projects, predominantly involving the development of wind farms, and regularly represents lenders and high net worth individuals in leasing arrangements pertaining to estates and land development. The team has further expertise acting for landlords in the contested termination of agricultural leases, and representing farming partnerships in the sale of assets and the winding up of estates. Accredited specialist James Rust heads up the team, handling transactional work, agricultural and crofting tenancies and land management issues. New partner Linsey Barclay-Smith joined the team from Thorntons Law LLP in late 2018

Banking and finance Tier 3

Morton Fraser handles all aspects of financing matters and loan portfolio transactions, and Clydesdale Bank, Barclays, AIB Group and Close Leasing are notable clients in the firm's roster. The team's real estate finance expertise was recently bolstered by a series of arrivals; the group also has substantial experience in banking litigation and the fintech space. Group head Andrew Meakin specialises in corporate debt financing and general bank advisory work, while John Lunn heads the retail banking space.

Commercial litigation Tier 3

Morton Fraser receives regular instructions from high-net-wort individuals and other private clients to act in disputes arising from their business activities, but the team is equally well placed to assist corporate and public sector clients with various commercial and corporate disputes. Richard McMeeken is the main contact.

Construction Tier 3

The team at Morton Fraser is led by Jonathan Seddon and is best known for its involvement in large-scale development projects such as office developments, student accommodations and commercial properties. As well as advising developers on various construction matters, the team is also well versed in handling transactional work. Its contentious workload includes various disputes arising from alleged construction defects and breaches of construction contracts. Associates Julie Scott-Gilroy and Caroline Earnshaw joined the team in 2019 from BTO Solicitors LLP.

Corporate and commercial: Edinburgh and Glasgow Tier 3

Morton Fraser acts for SME and family businesses on a wide range of matters, but also has a strong presence in the public sector. The group also has substantial experience acting for investors and regularly supports universities and other higher education institutions in Scotland with developing spin-out businesses. Austin Flynn heads the team, which was recently supplemented by the arrival of Alan Meek from MacRoberts LLP.

Education Tier 3

Morton Fraser's strength lies in advising local authorities, public education bodies and private schools on sector-specific employment and immigration law matters alongside reputational issues pertaining to student and pupil relationships, student accommodation property work and litigation. David Walker is the main contact.

Health and safety Tier 3

Morton Fraser regularly acts for regulators, most notably the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in fatal accident inquiries, investigations and appeals against enforcement and prohibition notices alongside regulatory matters. Jenny Dickson heads the team.

Intellectual property Tier 3

The team at Morton Fraser has substantial contentious and advisory IP expertise with particular experience in handling university spin-outs, the protection and commercialisation of IP rights for early to mid-stage companies, IP due diligence, and brand protection issues. Group head Austin Flynn is the key contact for non-contentious advice while Richard McMeeken handles IP litigation; associate Julie Nixon has notable experience in the life sciences sector.

Personal tax, trusts and executries Tier 3

Morton Fraser significantly bolstered its team during 2018 with the hires of Gregor Mitchell  and consultants Douglas Hunter and Keith Oliver from Addleshaw Goddard. The team carries out a high volume of work for trustees, including advising on the establishment and variation of trusts and charitable trusts, handling the administration of trusts with cross-border capital, and providing tax and legal advice on inherited assets. On the executors’ side, the firm are known for resolving conflicts of interest that emerge between executors and trustees and advising on inheritance tax liability relating to estate administrations. Chartered financial adviser Sue Hunter heads up the private client division and frequently advises high net worth individuals on their tax and succession needs.

Sport Tier 3

Morton Fraser’s team has strong connections in the gymnastics world in Scotland, serving as sole legal adviser to Scottish Gymnastics, and regularly assists gymnastics clubs gain charitable status through OSCR approval. The team also advises footballers on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters and acts for private companies on investments and acquisitions in the sector. Corporate head Iain Young  acts for a number of football clubs, handling transactions, commercial agreements and disciplinary matters, while practice head Paul Geoghegan advises on a wide range of matters, including image rights for a Premier League footballer.

Energy (excluding oil and gas) Tier 4

Morton Fraser is recognised for its advice on property matters relating to energy projects. The group is particularly noted for its strong track record handling the specialised crofting and agricultural issues arising from energy developments. The energy team also acts for landowners and developers on consenting, licensing, developing and financing issues, and commercial agreements. Environmental law specialist Nick Atkins heads up the group and is also an expert in nuclear law; and James Rust handles onshore renewables projects for landowners. The firm's agricultural practice was recently bolstered by the arrival of Linsey Barclay-Smith from Thorntons Law LLP.

The firm: Morton Fraser is a Limited Liability Partnership, with a Management Board, a Chief Executive and a Chairman. The firm provides award winning and top rated legal services across the UK, and has links to over 160 international firms. It has been known as Morton Fraser since 2000.

The firm can lay claim to being the oldest law firm in Scotland following its merger with Macdonalds in February 2013. Macdonalds can trace records of the firm back to 1614.

The Morton Fraser practice in Edinburgh can be traced back to 1829, when it was founded by Charles Morton who set up as Greig & Morton WS in partnership with James Greig. Following various mergers during the 19th century, in 1915 the firm underwent another amalgamation to become known as Morton, Smart, Macdonald & Prosser WS.

1961 saw another merger – with J & J Milligan WS. The two firms becoming known as Morton, Smart, Macdonald & Milligan WS. In 1968 they merged again with Fraser, Stodart & Ballingall WS to become Morton, Fraser & Milligan WS, shortened to Morton Fraser in 2000.

The firm opened an office in Glasgow in 2004 and in London in 2007 in response to client demand. In 2002 the firm merged with the commercial practice of Robson McLean WS and in 2008, with Edinburgh based law firm Skene Edwards.

The firm continues to expand and develop to best serve their clients’ requirements.

Morton Fraser is a leading independent Scottish law firm delivering clear legal advice to businesses, the public sector, families and individuals. It operates from offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, with a headcount of around 300 people including 44 Partners. It has links internationally to a further 160 law firms around the world. With a highly talented team of lawyers, Morton Fraser provides specialist expertise across its main business areas of commercial real estate, public sector, private client, banking, corporate and litigation.

Morton Fraser has highlighted clarity as its guiding principle. This directs the way it communicates, the way it advises, the way it conducts relationships with its clients and the way it is totally transparent and upfront about its charges. This applies to all its services from the straightforward to the more complex.

Clients: Morton Fraser’s impressive client base includes AGS Airports Limited, Diageo, Historic Environment Scotland, The Ministry of Defence, Nationwide, Post Office, Rockspring, Royal Mail Group, Schuh, Scottish Canals, Scottish Government, Skyscanner, Standard Life plc, Superdrug, Tesco Stores Limited, UK Government and Volkswagen UK.

Areas of practice: Banking: Morton Fraser has one of Scotland’s largest dedicated finance practices. Clients include all of the UK’s clearing banks, along with building societies, leasing companies and overseas financial institutions. The team offers real expertise from transaction-driven finance to consumer finance and consumer credit regulation. They advise on deals with values running into billions of pounds a year and frequently provide specialist Scottish advice to English and overseas law firms.

Commercial Real Estate: the commercial real estate team advises clients on the full spectrum of commercial real estate work including regeneration projects, retail and general leasing, property investment, property development, portfolio management, property finance, lender services and house building. They also have expertise in real estate support services such as construction, planning and environmental law. Clients benefit from their expertise gained in acting for some of Scotland’s largest property owners.

Corporate: the corporate team has extensive experience in a wide range of corporate matters throughout the UK, including share and business sales and purchases, mergers and acquisitions, capital reductions, restructuring, advising investors and investees in private equity transactions, joint ventures and shareholder disputes and advising on insolvency and data protection and GDPR matters. They work with a wide variety of organisations from PLCs and household-names to small and medium sized organisations including charities, owner-managed businesses and start-ups in all industry sectors.

The team is involved in many technically-complex and commercially-significant transactions across a range of sectors.

Litigation: the litigation team is one of the largest in Scotland. It includes experts in specialist areas such as fraud and financial crime, child and adoption law, immigration law, contentious planning law and alternative dispute resolution. The team also includes three solicitor advocates offering clients seamless and cost-effective representation in civil courts throughout Scotland; a substantial debt team with particular expertise in volume recoveries for public sector clients; and one of the most respected employment teams in Scotland.

The firm’s approach to litigation involves partnering with our clients and basing our strategy around their goals in order to get the best result possible. The core of our work is our commercial practice dealing with business to business disputes. The majority of these involve issues of contractual interpretation.

Private Client: the private client team have over 70 specialists, including its own Estate Agency and two chartered and certified Independent Financial Advisers. Together, they are all passionate about the work they do for people and their families. They advise on a wide range of areas of expertise including divorce and family law, wills, powers of attorney, finances, tax planning, family succession, pensions, buying and selling property, later life care and trusts.

Public Sector: Morton Fraser has a huge amount of experience of working with public sector clients who appreciate the firm’s sensitivity to the political, administrative and financial demands faced by the sector. The firm acts for over 70 public sector organisations including the Ministry of Defence, the Scottish Government, UK Government Departments and Agencies, Non-Departmental Government Bodies, Education Institutions as well as many Local Authorities (several of which as sole legal advisers).

Department Name Email Telephone
Agriculture and Rural Land and Business James Rust
Banking & Finance Andrew Meakin
Clinical Negligence - Claimant Jenny Dickson
Construction & Development Jonathan Seddon
Consumer Finance John Lunn
Corporate Austin Flynn
Dispute Resolution Innes Clark
Education: Institutions David Walker
Employment Innes Clark
Energy & Utilities Nick Atkins
Environment Nick Atkins
Family/Matrimonial Law Rhona Adams
Financial Services & Products John Lunn
Health & Safety Jenny Dickson
Hotels & Leisure Elspeth Carson
Immigration Stuart McWilliams
IP/IT Austin Flynn
Infrastructure & Project Finance Andrew Meakin
Insolvency Iain Young
Local Government Rory Alexander
Asset Finance Bev Wood
Licensing David Hossack
Mediators David Hossack
Parliamentary & Public Law Rory Alexander
Personal Injury Jenny Dickson
Planning Douglas Milne
Private Client Sue Hunter
Private Equity Austin Flynn
Projects Suzanne Hardie
Real Estate Michael Ramsay
Real Estate Litigation Douglas Milne
Retail Elspeth Carson
Residential Property Joanne Cruickshank
Restructuring/InsolvencyNicola Ross Nicola Ross
Social Housing Suzanne Hardie
Sports Law Iain Young
TMT Austin Flynn
Other offices : London
Number of UK partners : 44
Number of UK fee-earners : 143