Westwater Advocates has been awarded 27 individual recommendations in 9 categories in the newly-published 2017 edition of the Chambers Directory.
On learning of the endorsements by the prestigious annual legal review, Stable Director Calum MacNeill QC said “Yet another extremely strong showing in Chambers this year is a gratifying recognition that Westwater Advocates continues to offer excellence in an unrivalled range of disciplines. The hard work of all our members and clerks has not gone unnoticed.”
The rankings include an impressive four ‘Star Individuals’ and two ‘Up and Coming’ recommendations for more recently-called junior counsel. The full rankings of the stable are as follows:
AGRICULTURE & RURAL AFFAIRS – Band 1
Westwater Advocates has extensive experience in representing clients in both agricultural and crofting matters and is known as one of the leading stables in Scotland. Its practice covers all landed estates matters as well as landlord and tenant issues, renewable energy and compulsory purchases. The stable has experience of arguing property and agricultural cases before the Sheriff Courts, the Scottish Land Court, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland and the ECJ. The advocates also represent public bodies, local authorities and governmental organisations in a number of matters connected to agricultural law.
Client service: “They are a very well-run set and they have always provided me with a helpful as well as friendly service.” Sheila Westwater is the principal clerk, assisted by deputy clerks Christina Ballantyne and Jane Morrison.
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC – Star Individual – He is one of the foremost experts in rural property law and has extensive experience in dealing with all issues facing landed estates and estate owners. He also advises on many other issues in connection with agricultural and environmental law including crofting matters, conveyancing issues, renewable energy and European law issues. Strengths: “He is a real leading light and one of the leading senior practitioners. He has written influential academic books on the subject and has a really huge amount of knowledge in his area.” “He is absolutely outstanding in his field and covers a broad range of agricultural and crofting matters.” Recent work: Appealed to the Court of Session for a complicated legal issue without prior precedent on the meaning of the word ‘landlord’ in the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.
Donald Cameron – Band 1 – He is an experienced advocate and regularly represents clients in cases concerning both employment and agricultural law. Cameron has a strong history of arguing cases in front of a variety of courts including the Court of Session, the Supreme Court and the ECJ. Strengths: “He has a real interest and understanding of rural matters and he has vast knowledge of this industry as he comes from farming background.” “He is very good and I rate his skills highly.” Recent work: Acted for the Scottish government in Feakins v Scottish Ministers with regard to the amount and rate of interest due on outstanding sums due to the appellant.
Neil MacDougall – Up & Coming – Represents clients in a broad range of practice areas which include commercial, employment and agricultural law. He has developed significant experience in dealing with all aspects of agricultural and rural property matters and has argued cases in the Scottish Land Court, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland and the ECJ. Strengths: “He is a very eloquent speaker and can make his point forcefully.” “He is very smart and he knows what he is doing.”
COMMERCIAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Nick Ellis QC – Band 1 – Possesses broad commercial expertise incorporating professional negligence and media. He is particularly sought after for complex construction disputes. Sources recognise his pragmatism, commerciality and thoroughness, while also noting the high esteem in which he is held by the Bench. Strengths: “He has got the ear of the court and is very quick to get a grasp on the issues, even if they are complex.” “He is very thorough, very able, in touch with commercial reality and willing to get off the fence.”
Calum MacNeill QC – Band 2 – Holds recognised expertise in clinical negligence and employment issues, alongside pure commercial matters. He regularly acts for clients in mediation and also appears as a chairperson in disciplinary appeals for the Scottish Police Service. Strengths: “He is very calm and measured; gives sound and practical advice.” “He is good to work with, straightforward and down to earth.” Recent work: Defending a firm of surveyors against a substantial claim for breach of contract and professional negligence relating to the valuation of a commercial property in central Glasgow.
Nick Ellis QC – Band 2 – Highly esteemed advocate whose experience in construction disputes is extensive. He demonstrates notable skill in complex contractual matters and in cases that overlap with professional negligence. Strengths: “Very thorough, incredibly commercial and pragmatic.” “Gives clear, consistent advice in a timely manner.”
EMPLOYMENT – Band 1
Westwater Advocates continues to assert itself as the pre-eminent employment law set in Scotland. The stable boasts a depth of experience and specialities, ranging from complex discrimination issues to unfair dismissals and whistle-blowing complications. Its members regularly represent both employers and individuals and are experienced in acting for clients in the Supreme Court, Court of Session, and in employment tribunals across the United Kingdom.
Client service: “The clerking team is excellent – they always try to match the service to my budget.” “The team continually impress with their standard and confidence.” Sheila Westwater leads the clerking team.
Calum MacNeill QC – Band 1 – An experienced practitioner instructed in all aspects of employment law, with expertise handling complex restrictive covenant and unfair dismissal claims. He has represented clients in courts across the land, ranging from employment tribunals to complex cases in the Supreme Court. Strengths: “He is a very gifted advocate and very able counsel.” “He is very direct and gives you a clear steer on what he thinks of your case.” Recent work: Acted in McBride v Scottish Police Authority, a Supreme Court case in which he argued that the claimant, a fingerprint officer, was unfairly dismissed following an alleged misidentification.
Alice Stobart – Band 1 – Provides expert advice across the whole range of employment issues, with added strengths in professional discipline matters. She regularly handles complex discrimination issues and is particularly adept at supporting clients with difficult unfair dismissal cases. Strengths: “She is extremely capable and gives first-class opinions and advocacy work. She produces exceptional written work which is presented in a user-friendly way.” “She is an excellent advocate and is concise and quick to respond to queries.” Recent work: Acted in the Employment Tribunal case of Mr Padia & Mrs Padia v Sainsbury’s, representing individuals over alleged race discrimination and unfair dismissal from their positions.
David Hay – Band 2 – Regularly represents individuals, large organisations and local authorities across the whole range of employment law. His particular areas of interest include holiday pay issues, discrimination law and working time regulations. Strengths: “His ability to grasp the finer details of a case quickly and get to the heart of the issue is impressive.” “He is technically very good and knowledgeable. He has a very good advocacy style and gets the ear of the court in even the most complicated court settings.” Recent work: Acted in Truslove v Scottish Ambulance Service, a case looking at whether time spent by paramedics at remote locations constitutes working time under the Working Time Regulations and therefore European case law.
Ken McGuire – Band 2 – An advocate with experience across the whole range of employment law, with particular strengths in discrimination and equal pay issues. He regularly represents clients in both employment tribunals and the Court of Session. Strengths: “He is extremely accommodating of clients’ expectations, has a genuine enthusiasm for working in a wide range of areas, and is extremely skilful.” “He is very thorough in court, has a very good attention to detail and puts the claimants at ease.” Recent work: Acted in Mrs J Campbell & Others v Fife Council, a complex equal pay claim brought against Fife Council by hundreds of different claimants.
Donald Cameron – Band 3 – Appears in all levels of court including the EAT, Inner House and Court of Session, often in complex unfair dismissal cases. His practice is bolstered by additional experience of public law. Strengths: “His advocacy skills are excellent.” “He is really good at tailoring his style and manner to the individual client; he can change his phrasing or style to suit individual circumstances.” Recent work: Acted in Sharkey v Lloyds Bank, a case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal where he represented the employee in an unfair dismissal dispute.
FAMILY/MATRIMONIAL – Band 1
Westwater Advocates is widely acknowledged as Scotland’s “pre-eminent family law stable.” It boasts an unrivalled group of experts, enabling it to cover financial issues and children law at every level. Many of its advocates offer impressive expertise in international work, including complex abduction and child relocation cases as well as divorce proceedings with cross-border aspects. The stable is considered a go-to for almost any kind of family case, with one source saying: “I feel there’s great breadth and depth in the set generally; they will have an advocate who fits the type of case and the type of client.”
Client service: “The clerks there are superb: they’re friendly, flexible and work with us very well.” Sheila Westwater serves as the stable’s principal clerk.
Janys Scott QC – Star Individual – “The queen of family law,” she is firmly established as a leading advocate and has acted in some of Scotland’s most significant cases. Her remit spans extremely high-value financial provisions in addition to complex child law cases. She is also a published expert on education law and has successfully argued cases all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Strengths: “She has incredible attention to detail and is very tenacious – her reputation speaks for itself.” “The leading QC in Scotland: technically fantastic and always willing to think outside the box.”
Lynda Brabender – Star Individual – Widely respected as one of the leading juniors for family cases in both the financial and children spheres. Much of her caseload involves public law, with a particular emphasis on childcare cases. She is also highly regarded for her ability to negotiate complex financial provisions, predominantly in the Court of Session.
Strengths: “Good attention to detail, she gives clients confidence that she’s really fighting for them and standing up for them.” “She has fantastic advocacy skills and also does good written work. Extremely likeable and very experienced.”
Ruth Innes – Star Individual – A former family solicitor who is an authority on complex divorces and financial provisions, particularly those that concern the ownership of farms and agricultural land. Her varied experience also spans cross-border cases, cohabitation disputes, adoption, child abductions and relocations.
Strengths: “Talented, bright, diligent and very reliable, she’s my first port of call.” “She is excellent: she has great attention to detail, and is very good on the law and in court.”
Recent work: Acted for the respondent in a case which centred on the return of two children to France under the Hague Convention.
Robert Hayhow – Band 1 – A heavyweight in the field of financial provision who is also experienced in child relocation and abduction cases. He garners much praise for his interpersonal skills, with market sources citing his ability to reassure clients and persuade courtrooms.
Strengths: “He’s thorough, prepared and organised; you feel like you’re in a safe pair of hands.” “Even at short notice you can rely on him to be very good.”
Kirsty Malcolm – Band 1 – Junior who is building a solid reputation as an expert on cohabitation issues. Very well versed in handling complex, high-value divorce proceedings and is also noted for her skilled handling of child abductions, relocations and contact disputes.
Strengths: “Well regarded and well instructed: clients like her and she’s approachable.” “She’s excellent at going through the details. For complex cohabitation cases, it would be Kirsty every time.”
Recent work: Acted for the pursuer in an appeal concerning the relevance of a pension to the financial provision awarded in a divorce.
John Speir – Band 1 – An experienced advocate who is also an accredited family arbitrator and mediator. He offers a broad range of skills and experience, with some of his most impressive cases focusing on cohabitation disputes, financial provisions and child relocations.
Strengths: “He is very easy to work and communicate with – you have the sense with him that you are running things together.” “A fearless litigator who commands a lot of confidence with clients. He is friendly, approachable and businesslike.”
Recent work: Acted in the Sheriff Court in what is thought to be the first contested evidential hearing brought under the Forced Marriage Act 2011.
Alison Wild – Band 2 – A former solicitor whose practice at the Bar encompasses a range of children and money matters. Her experience includes cases under the Hague Convention, cohabitation disputes, freeing orders and financial provisions.
Strengths: “A very talented advocate who is very good with people and confidence-inspiring.” “Alison’s just so hands-on and so speedy in her turnaround. She totally commits to a case.”
Isabella Ennis – Band 3 – Maintains a broad focus, acting in cases concerning children law and matrimonial finance. She is notably respected for her expertise in repatriation and compulsory care proceedings, where she acts for local authorities and parents. Recent work has included a number of complex divorces and child contact cases.
Strengths: “She’s always approachable and good technically.” “A very good advocate.”
Mary Loudon – Band 3 – A family law specialist who has previous experience as a solicitor and mediator. She handles cohabitation disputes and high-value divorce proceedings, and is also able to take on adoption and child abduction cases.
Strengths: “She is knowledgeable and very pleasant to work with.” “Very easy to deal with, she always stays calm.”
Scott McAlpine – Band 3 – A junior who is rapidly establishing a reputation as a leading advocate for both children and financial cases. Sources commend his calm approach and effective courtroom advocacy. He offers especially deep knowledge of cases concerning international relocation, adoption and cohabitation law.
Strengths: “A very experienced, very competent barrister whose writing is amazing.” “Straightforward in his approach, smart and very helpful throughout.”
Recent work: Successfully acted for the petitioner on three applications for permanence orders concerning children of various ages, one of whom had complex needs.
Rachel Shewan – Up and Coming – Recently called to the Bar after working almost 20 years as a solicitor, she is already making an impression with her practice in children law. She offers notable expertise in child relocation, abduction, adoption and contact disputes.
Strengths: “Very easy to deal with, she gives clear advice.” “She has particular expertise in childcare matters.”
Recent work: Acted for the respondent in a Hague Convention case successfully opposing the return of children from Scotland to Australia.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Gavin Anderson – Band 1 – Has significant experience of handling the defence and prosecution of complex health and safety matters, most often those arising out of serious or fatal accidents in the workplace.
Strengths: “He maintains very high standards in his court advocacy, his written work and how he relates to both clients and instructing solicitors.” “He has very deep knowledge and is great to work with.”
Recent work: Acted in HM Advocate v Bruce of the Broch 1886 Ltd, a case concerning an employee’s fall through a fragile roof during demolition works.
Greg Cunningham – Band 1 – Enjoys a wide practice which encompasses employment and professional negligence aspects of pensions law. He frequently handles Ombudsman cases and is knowledgeable in Local Government Pension Schemes. He acts for trustees, local authorities and corporates.
Strengths: “He is very pragmatic and knows pensions inside-out.”
Andrew MacMillan – Band 3 – Primarily represents pursuers. He is able to handle a wide range of personal injury matters including employers’ liability, road traffic accidents and industrial disease claims.
Laura Wray – Band 3 – Represents both defenders and pursuers. She has experience working on road traffic accidents, employers’ liability and industrial disease claims.
Strengths: “She has a wealth of personal injury experience and a fantastic manner with clients. She works very hard to achieve an excellent result in every case.”
PLANNING & ENVIRONMENT
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC – Band 1 – Known for his impressive experience acting on behalf of objectors, many of whom are NGOs or concerned individuals. He is very well regarded for his complementary expertise in agricultural law and attracts praise for his strategy in court.
Strengths: “He is very knowledgeable and very good to work with. He is very co-operative and constructive and always gives considered and careful advice to clients.” “He is a counsel of choice for agricultural matters and planning and environmental judicial reviews. He is practical and client-friendly in his approach.”
Recent work: Acted in RES Renewables v East Ayrshire Council, a six day wind farm planning inquiry regarding landscape and visual issues.