Scottish Stars at the Bar

Roddy Dunlop QC (Axiom Advocates)

“The real big hitter in Scotland,” Roddy Dunlop QC is held to be “probably the most sought after QC at the Bar.” His appointment to the prestigious office of Dean of Faculty of Advocates attests to his standing in the profession. He is “superb on his feet,” say clients, and “has a very good way of telling the story in the case, along with a great style which he adjusts based on the client.” Others dub him a “truly impressive operator, who has a quick grasp of the issues, and who is aggressive and strategically sound.” All of these strengths are demonstrated in the context of a markedly broad practice centring on commercial litigation, where he appears for the second year as a star individual. He racks up a remarkable eight Chambers rankings in total. Professional negligence and professional discipline form a significant area of specialist expertise, and in a recent case he successfully defended Clydesdale Bank against a claim involving a bridge loan. Our sources remark that his reputation for this work is “almost unparalleled.” Dunlop was selected to defend the Scottish government in Alex Salmond’s claim concerning its investigation of sexual assault allegations against him. He retains his rankings in administrative & public law, and public procurement, in addition to band one listings for clinical negligence, product liability, and media law, where peers describe him as “the best defamation silk in Scotland.”

David Thomson QC (Axiom Advocates)

“David Thomson QC holds an impressive clutch of seven rankings in our guide, including top tier listings in the property litigation, restructuring, tax and company law sections. Rankings in the construction, commercial dispute resolution and professional negligence listings demonstrate the breadth of Thomson’s practice. This string of rankings is made all the more impressive when Thompson’s relatively recent elevation to silk in 2017 is borne in mind. More than a match for silks with many more years of experience, this “excellent advocate” is known for his “extremely persuasive style of advocacy and ability to pick up complex instructions extremely quickly.” He is described as “one of the pre-eminent silks in insolvency work in Scotland,” an accolade which is matched by instructing solicitors discussing his prowess as “the top dog” in the property litigation field. In fact, sources go so far as to describe him as “one of the top litigators in Scotland.” He is in constant demand from solicitors, with a reputation for having “very high standards in the provision of clear, high quality legal advice” and being “an impressive orator” in court. Solicitors particularly appreciate his ability to simplify complex matters and then fight the client’s corner with enthusiasm and skill. “He’s probably the best all-rounder at the senior Bar,” summarises one instructing solicitor.

Mark Lindsay QC (Axiom Advocates)

“The “approachable and effective” Mark Lindsay QC is a highly regarded advocate who is recognised for his expert handling of complex public law matters, commercial disputes and professional negligence actions. He has achieved an impressive six rankings in this year’s guide, including top-tier rankings in our administrative and public law, immigration, public procurement, professional discipline and commercial dispute resolution tables. Instructing solicitors are quick to highlight Lindsay’s dedication to client care when discussing his strengths, noting that he is “always responsive and will make himself available for calls and meetings at short notice.” Another commentator adds: “His personable nature ensures that he has the trust of clients and instructing solicitors alike.” He is also consistently praised for his “very impressive and persuasive” oral advocacy, and is described by impressed interviewees as “very effective in court.” He is routinely instructed to take on challenging and high-profile judicial reviews, and has experience of appearing before the UK courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court.

Ewen Campbell (Axiom Advocates)

“For many years a stalwart of the media law Bar in Scotland, Campbell’s expertise in a host of additional fields is now widely acknowledged, and this year he appears in six Chambers practice areas. He is, according to his clients, “one of those incredibly good all-rounders,” and sources commend his ability to “pick up anything you give him.” Many of our interviewees point to his background as a former solicitor as a key strength: “It gives him insight into how things work at our end, and helps him to produce advice which is easy to understand.” Campbell is, moreover, “extremely approachable and collaborative in dealing with his cases.” “Very well prepared and quite meticulous as part of a team,” he is said to be “hugely valued by the seniors with whom he works,” but also “absolutely capable of running cases without a senior.” Instructing solicitors are also quick to highlight his talents in the courtroom: “He is a very impressive advocate.” His superior command of technological resources is an addition draw. Campbell enters the product liability rankings for the first time this year, having acted in a number of notable cases including one relating to metal-on-metal hip replacements. In public procurement he is regarded as “great for the more complex challenges,” such as a recent challenge to the Scottish government’s procurement of ferry services between Orkney and the mainland. Campbell also retains his rankings in commercial dispute resolution, professional negligence and clinical negligence.

Kenneth McBrearty QC (Axiom Advocates)

“Kenneth McBrearty QC has gathered an impressive number of rankings in our guide since taking silk in 2013, thanks to the plethora of positives recounted to our researchers by his many fans at top firms across Scotland. Described as “the best senior to work with,” his band one rankings in commercial dispute resolution and media law are complemented by listings in our administrative and public law table, as well as in the product liability, professional negligence and real estate litigation sections. He is “a go-to senior in any media matters” as well as “one of the leaders of the Scottish Bar in commercial work,” according to sources. McBrearty is also held in high esteem for his professional negligence expertise and noted as “extremely well respected and knowledgeable in this area.” Multiple sources describe McBrearty as “personable,” a trait which instructing solicitors are quick to point out goes a long way to drawing repeat instructions. In fact, one source says he is “an absolute pleasure to work with from a solicitor’s perspective,” while another says “he has a great ability to get on with every single client and instructing solicitor he meets.” His dedication is also renowned; “he is prepared to give any case all of his attention,” says one solicitor.

Andrew R W Young QC (Arnot Manderson)

“Andrew Young QC is lauded by interviewees as “an excellent advocate who is always very well-prepared and persuasive and charming in court.” He is noted for his expert handling of complex negligence claims on behalf of both pursuers and defenders, and is recognised as a leading advocate in our rankings for both professional and clinical negligence. He is also widely regarded a top choice for challenging personal injury actions, with one instructing solicitor noting: “He is trusted with our most complex and high-value catastrophic cases.” Young’s broad expertise also encompasses commercial disputes and tax cases, where he receives instructions from a wide range of parties, including HM Revenue & Customs. While interviewees are quick to draw attention to his “excellent legal knowledge” and “very thorough analysis of evidence,” Young’s expert client handling skills are also consistently held out for praise by his instructing solicitors. One impressed interviewee describes him as “clever yet very down to earth and easy to deal with,” while another notes that he has a “calm and client-friendly manner.” His in-court advocacy skills are also highlighted by several interviewees, and he earns praise for his ability to present cases in “a matter of fact and easy to understand manner.” Another solicitor adds: “He’s not just good – he’s excellent. He’s clear and fair in court, and is very good at identifying the relevant points and presenting those points extremely persuasively.”

Jonathan C Lake QC (Axiom Advocates)

“Jonathan Lake QC is renowned for his commercial expertise, including in relation to complex IP disputes. His expert handling of patent law and other aspects of intellectual property has earned him the accolade of “the go-to blue chip QC for IP matters” from one instructing solicitor. Another in that field describes him as “absolutely outstanding, incredible on his feet and very gifted technically.” Alongside his core commercial practice, he regularly undertakes property and construction-related cases and holds band one rankings in both these areas in our guide. Construction-focused solicitors describe him as “very commercial and client-orientated” and “very experienced and skilled in the sector.” Lake is well known for his work as senior counsel to the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry and he is widely admired for his excellent advocacy and approach to his work. Interviewees say he is “the best in the market” and “a top choice QC,” while another adds: “He is one of the calmest people I have ever met.”

Robert Howie QC (Ampersand Advocates)

“Robert Howie QC is held to be an “exceptionally bright” advocate, whose “knowledge of the law in quite complex areas is outstanding,” as is his “ability to recall information in great detail.” He is firmly established as a “leading light” of the commercial Bar in Scotland, having over many years routinely appeared before both Houses of the Court of Session and, on occasion, the UK Supreme Court. His talents specific to construction, real estate and insolvency law are acknowledged with Chambers rankings in each of those sections. Construction specialist solicitors note that Howie “really knows it all” in that sector, and in addition to advocacy he acts as an adjudicator in contract disputes.