Legal advice for local government
Our local government practice offers a breadth and depth of expert resource to deliver risk-aware and solution-driven legal and regulatory advice to local authorities across Scotland
Working in partnership
Local authorities in Scotland continue to face unprecedented challenges as they deliver a wide range of critical public services in uncertain times. Budgetary pressures, the impact of the pandemic upon organisational structures and service delivery models and loss of key resource and expertise all mean that the local government sector require access to expert, cost-effective and innovative legal services in order to minimise risk and maximise opportunity.
We are trusted advisers to the local government sector in Scotland and are retained solicitors to 23 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, including: Glasgow City Council; City of Edinburgh Council; The Highland Council; Fife Council; North Ayrshire Council; Shetland Islands; Orkney Islands Council; and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Our multi-disciplinary local government team ensures that key decisions are lawful, transparent and able to withstand scrutiny from elected members, the public and other key stakeholders, with the ultimate aim of ensuring delivery of best value.
We work with our local authority clients in a spirit of genuine partnership, supplementing and complementing in-house resource and expertise and seeking at all times to realise efficiencies and ensure effective knowledge transfer to in-house legal, procurement and other specialist colleagues. Many of our core team of solicitors have worked as in-house legal advisers across the public sector and therefore have a valuable insight into the particular demands of an in-house role and can apply lessons learned for the benefit of clients.
We advise the local government sector on a wide range of legal issues, including: large-scale development and infrastructure projects; social housing and homelessness prevention initiatives; social care services; education services; procurement and outsourcing; subsidy control; creation and governance of arms’ length vehicles; revenue generation and other fundraising initiatives; strategic service reviews; employment and HR issues; and litigation and dispute resolution.
The team are known for representing Scottish Government, government directorates, local authorities and other public bodies. Strong focus on judicial reviews and statutory appeals related to procurement, human rights and Brexit. A source reports: “The advice received has been clear and easy to understand from a non-legal customer point of view.”
We provide local government clients with a comprehensive range of legal, regulatory, strategic and commercial advice across a number of key areas.
- Administrative and public law
- Banking and finance
- City Region Deal projects
- Data protection
- Employment and pensions
- Energy and climate change
- Ethical standards in public life
- Freedom of information and environmental information
- Governance, decision-making and strategy
- Health and social care
- Housing and regeneration
- Human rights
- Infrastructure and other complex projects
- Investigations and inquiries
- Joint ventures, partnerships and shared services
- Litigation and dispute resolution
- Local government powers
- Planning and environmental
- Public procurement
- Public inquiries
- Service delivery models and arm’s-length vehicles
- Subsidy control and competition law
Our team brings together practitioners with in-depth practical legal experience and expertise in key disciplines.
In recent years, we have worked on many of the most complex, high-profile and high-value projects in the local government sector and have been responsible for development of innovative models for delivery of public services which have subsequently been adopted by the sector as a whole.
Advised one of Scotland’s largest local authorities and one of its arms’-length external organisations on a £648m project for the sale, purchase, leaseback and associated debt funding of a portfolio of high-profile real estate assets
Advised on a number of complex City Region Deal-funded regeneration projects.
Advised and represented a local authority in successful defence of a high-value, complex judicial review relative to procurement of a multi-million pound development project for a landmark tourist destination and a related state aid complaint to the European Commission.
Advised on procurement of an innovative alliance project for the elimination of homelessness, a unique project in the UK, bringing together the health and social care partnership, charities, housing providers and local people with personal experience of being homeless.
Advising a local authority client on a commercial joint venture with a community wind turbine and electricity generation vehicle and entry into of a “virtual power purchase agreement” to manage rising energy costs.
We also offer our local authority clients a range of added value services, including:
- Bespoke in-house training
- Annual strategic reviews and “horizon scanning” sessions
- Styles banks and contract reviews
- Seminars and events
- Tailored legal updates
“Local authorities and arm’s-length external organisations routinely retain the group to assist with commercial actions, public procurement disputes and judicial reviews, while typical work in the non-contentious sphere includes corporate, commercial and funding matters alongside procurement and state aid advice on various projects.” Clients add “The team has a strong public sector focus and demonstrates excellent knowledge and expertise.”
“An experienced team acting for local authorities throughout Scotland. Noted for work across a range of areas, including defence of judicial review, contentious and non-contentious housing matters. Also handles public procurement and state aid work as part of a broad public sector focus.”
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