Westwater Advocates receives 54 individual recommendations in the latest editions of Chambers & Partners UK and the Legal 500

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Members of Westwater Advocates have been awarded an impressive 23 individual recommendations in 8 categories in the newly published 2019 edition of the Chambers Directory and a further 31 Tier 1 Ranking in 9 of the 13 categories in the Legal 500, published earlier this week following a brief delay.

The Chambers rankings include two star individual ratings for top silks Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC and Janys Scott QC and an impressive three Band 1 rankings for the stable in the Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Employment and Family law.

On learning of the latest endorsements in the authoritative annual review Clerk Sheila Westwater said, “I am delighted to hear the positive feedback from our valued instructing agents about both our members and the clerking team. Looking closely at the rankings it is very pleasing to see that the senior and junior bar within the stable have received such healthy rankings, highlighting the quality available at all levels of seniority across so many important areas of law.”

The full rankings in both publications are as follows:


AGRICULTURE & RURAL AFFAIRS – BAND 1 Westwater Advocates has strong capabilities in relation to agricultural disputes and benefits from its resources in related areas such as trust law and property litigation. Practitioners from the stable work on a diverse range of issues including tenancy rights and disputes over proposed developments. Crofting law is an area of particular expertise. Advocates regularly appear before the Sheriff Courts, the Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.

Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw Bt QC – Star Individual – Exceptionally well-known and highly respected silk with a wealth of experience in agricultural and rural law matters. His practice includes crofting matters, conveyancing issues, renewable energy work, European law issues and tenancy disputes. “Unquestionably knowledgeable.” Recent work: Appeared before the Court of Session in a judicial review regarding the claim that Scottish Ministers were liable to pay tenant farmers compensation for the removal of secure tenancy rights.

Neil MacDougall – Band 2 – Acts for clients in a mixture of commercial law, employment law and agricultural law matters. He draws on his previous experience as a commercial property solicitor in agricultural and rural property cases, and has appeared before the Scottish Land Court and the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, as well as the ECJ.


Nick Ellis QC – Band 2 – 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.
“He’s very commercial and good at strategy. He has the ear of the court and his arguments always command respect.” “He’s very responsive and very commercial.”

Calum H S MacNeill QC – Band 3 – Holds recognised expertise in clinical negligence and employment issues, alongside pure commercial matters. He is also experienced in handling professional negligence and construction disputes. He regularly acts for clients in mediation and adjudications in relation to high-value contractual disputes.
“He is very bright and a pleasure to work with.”


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. “He takes a very careful and measured approach and is thorough and easy to deal with.” “Provides well-considered, commercial advice. He’s well respected at the Bar and is a polished and measured performer in court.”

EMPLOYMENT – BAND 1 – Westwater Advocates includes in its line-up a number of talented employment practitioners and is considered the go-to stable in Scotland for employment disputes. Advocates at the stable act for both claimants and respondents in cases arising out of various sectors of the economy. A diverse array of allegations are dealt with including whistle-blowing, unequal pay, wage deductions, discrimination and unfair dismissal. Members are skilled at litigating class actions as well as individual claims. Recent instructions include McBride v Scottish Police Authority, an unfair dismissal claim involving a fingerprint officer, and Fisher & Others v Applied Drilling Technologies International, a group action concerning enhanced redundancy payments.

Client service: “The clerks are excellent. They respond promptly and with all the necessary information. Their knowledge of the attributes and suitability of advocates for certain matters is unsurpassed.” Sheila Westwater is the principal clerk.

Calum H S MacNeill QC – Band 1 – An experienced practitioner instructed in all aspects of employment law, with expertise handling complex restrictive covenant and unfair dismissal claims, as well as equal pay and discrimination cases. He has represented clients in courts across the land, ranging from employment tribunals to complex cases in the Supreme Court. “An accomplished advocate.” “A very knowledgeable QC who is excellent on his feet in front of the courts.”Recent work: Represented the employers of an Authorised Firearms Officer who claimed to have been subjected to a series of detriments on the grounds that he had raised certain operational concerns.

Alice Stobart – Band 1 – Provides expert advice across the whole range of employment issues, with added strength in professional discipline matters. She regularly handles complex discrimination issues including those relating to ageism and sexism, and she is adept at supporting clients with difficult cases of unfair and constructive dismissal.
“Her arguments are well constructed and thoroughly researched.” “Very experienced.”
Recent work: Successfully represented the respondent, Shell, in an employment tribunal in which the claimant sought compensation for unfair dismissal.

David Hay – Band 1 – 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.
“He builds excellent relationships with clients and researches and prepares cases thoroughly. He is an effective and challenging advocate.” “Very thorough, very bright and user-friendly.” Recent work: Acted in an appeal regarding whether the Employment Tribunal had the jurisdiction to set aside an ex facie valid compromise agreement on the grounds of lack of mental capacity to contract on the part of the claimant.

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.

FAMILY LAW – BAND 1 Westwater Advocates is regarded as the leading family law stable in Scotland. It includes a large number of advocates focused on public and private family law. Members turn their hands to a wide range of matters including high-value cohabitation claims, divorce proceedings and cross-border child matters. They display notable strength in complex financial remedy disputes involving business interests, pensions and property. They appear at all levels of the judicial system, including the Court of Session, the Sheriff Court and the UK Supreme Court.

 Client service: “They are all very approachable and very helpful. They know family law and are very accommodating to the solicitors’ needs. They can find the right advocates when you need them.” Sheila Westwater, the principal clerk, is reported to have “a great team.”

Janys M Scott QC – Star Individual – Firmly established as a leading advocate and has acted in some of Scotland’s most significant cases. Her remit spans high-value financial provisions in addition to complex child law cases. She has developed a strong reputation for her appellate advocacy. “An authoritative figure in the Scots family world.” “Thorough, well prepared and a formidable pleader.” “She has the ear of the judges and the respect of other members of the Bar.” “Her legal knowledge is truly encyclopaedic.”

Lynda J Brabender QC – Band 1 – A new silk who excels in high-stakes family cases involving divorce and children. She is known for her ability to negotiate complex financial provisions, predominantly in the Court of Session. “A superb strategist.” “Very persuasive.” “Her intelligence, attention to detail and skill in the courtroom are second to none and she always has her clients’ backs. A delight to instruct.” Recent work: Acted in a successful appeal from the decision of a sheriff that a children’s hearing and the Sheriff Court had no jurisdiction.

Ruth Innes QC – New Silk – A former family solicitor who is an authority on financial provision cases arising out of divorce. Her varied experience also spans cohabitation disputes, adoption, child abductions and relocations, including cross-border work to do with the Hague Convention. She often acts as curator ad litem in court applications for adoptions or permanence orders. “A formidable advocate with a grasp of detail that is second to none.” “Thorough and fiercely intelligent.” “Extremely hard-working, incisive and bright.”

Robert Hayhow – Band 1 – A heavyweight in the field of financial provision who is also experienced in child relocation and abduction cases. Interviewees praise his client-friendly manner and forceful advocacy. “He is great with clients and has a powerful court presence.” “Thorough, well prepared and thoughtful.” “A skilled and tenacious litigator.”

Kirsty Malcolm – Band 1 – An expert in cohabitation disputes who is well versed in handling complex, high-value divorce proceedings. She is also noted for her skilled handling of child abductions, relocations and contact disputes and has seen an increase in cross-border matrimonial cases. “Fantastic, knowledgeable and excellent with clients.” “Very approachable and thorough.” “A senior family law solicitor before joining the Bar, she brings maturity and experience to her cases.” Recent work: Acted for the respondent in an appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the apportionment of pension values in divorce cases.

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 and financial provisions.
“He has a wealth of experience and is superb on his feet.” “John has an effective court presence. He has an ability to think out of the box in relation to the law and to deal with novel issues.” “Thorough and forensic.”

Scott McAlpine – Band 2 – A leading junior advocate for both children and financial cases. He offers especially deep knowledge of cases concerning international relocation, adoption and cohabitation law. “Approachable and very knowledgeable.” “Clever and very much enjoys the ear of the court.” “He is great on his feet and imaginative in his approach.”

Alison Wild – Band 2 – A former solicitor whose practice at the Bar focuses on highly contentious children and divorce cases. These often involve complex medical and financial issues. She is skilled at handling cases with an international element. “A diligent and committed advocate who is approachable and excellent with clients.” “She is extremely thorough and very good at sorting through the details of a case.”

Isabella Ennis – Band 3 Maintains a broad focus, acting in cases concerning children law and matrimonial finance. She is respected for her expertise in repatriation and compulsory care proceedings, where she acts for local authorities and parents.
“Personable, thorough and always well prepared.”

Rachel Shewan – Band 3 – A former solicitor who, since having been called to the Bar in 2014, has garnered praise for her expansive family law practice. She offers notable expertise in child relocation, abduction, adoption and contact disputes. She is also experienced in handling cohabitation and divorce cases with large sums of money at stake. She often appears in the Court of Session and the Sheriff Court. “She is hugely diligent and has excellent attention to detail.” “Calm, unflappable and a pleasure to work with.” “A good client communicator whose written work is delivered promptly and thoroughly researched.” Recent work: Acted for the defender husband in a case about whether or not a house was matrimonial or non-matrimonial property.

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.

** Mary became a non-practising Member of Faculty on 1 November 2018**


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 frequently instructed in planning disputes concerning wind farms and renewable energy projects. He is also very well regarded for his complementary expertise in agricultural law. “He is prepared to go the extra mile.”


Scott McAlpine – Band 1 – Leading junior who predominantly handles complex cases involving teachers through all disciplinary stages. His expertise ranges from the Fitness to Teach Panel to the Outer and Inner House of the Court of Session. “He is very creative in his thinking and can fight his corner very persuasively.”


Nick Ellis QC – Band 2 – Maintains a broad real estate litigation practice. His expertise covers dilapidations, product liability and an extensive range of other property matters. He is highly regarded across the market for residential and commercial real estate work. “Very thorough, incredibly commercial and pragmatic.” “User-friendly and meticulous in his research.”


For some, Westwater Advocates is ‘the pre-eminent stable for family law in Scotland’, with members acting in children law cases, high-profile divorce matters and cross-border residence orders. Practitioners are also instructed in employment, planning, property and public law cases.

The ‘very approachable’ Sheila Westwater leads the clerking team, who ‘provide a superb service – they are helpful, responsive and go above and beyond to assist instructing agents’.

Civil liberties, human rights, public inquiries, and public and administrative law (including local government)

 Commercial litigation


Westwater Advocates houses ‘a strong range of employment specialists’ who have expertise across the full range of employment matters, including whistleblowing, discrimination on grounds of disability, race and sex, unfair dismissal matters and TUPE claims.

  • Calum MacNeill QC – ‘A highly intelligent, cogent and persuasive silk.
  • James Peoples QC – ‘Noted for his expertise in discrimination matters.
  • Alice Stobart – ‘An inimitable advocate.
  • David Hay – ‘An excellent advocate and a skilful communicator.
  • Ken McGuire – ‘Very practical, commercial and great with clients; a safe pair of hands.
  • Laurence Cunningham – ‘Recommended for cases involving discrimination matters.

 Family and childcare

Viewed as ‘the go-to stable at the Scottish Bar for family law cases’ with ‘specialist family counsel’, Westwater Advocates handles cross-border residence orders, children law matters and high-value divorce cases. Lynda Brabender QC took silk in 2017, while Ruth Innes QC took silk in September 2018.

 Personal injury and medical negligence

Recent work for the personal injury and medical negligence team at Westwater Advocates includes catastrophic injuries and multiple product liability claims.

  • Andrew MacMillan – ‘A personal injury specialist.
  • Laura Wray – ‘Recommended for a broad range of personal injury cases.

Planning, environmental and licensing

Westwater Advocates handles a broad spectrum of planning and environmental matters; past work includes renewable energy matters, nature conservation, planning applications, rural property and crofting cases.

 Professional negligence

Past instructions for the team at Westwater Advocates include cases involving allegations against architects and surveyors.

Property, construction and agriculture

Members at Westwater Advocates act in a broad spectrum of construction, property and agricultural matters; recent work includes lease disputes and access rights matters.

Tax, trusts and pensions

Westwater Advocates houses Laurence Cunningham, who is well known for handling pensions and trusts matters.