Banking & financial services disputes

We regularly represent leading banks and financial institutions, commercial and retail customers and third party providers of security who are involved in disputes in this sector. Our renowned specialism in this area has seen us act in some of the most prominent litigations in the sector in recent years.

Our work:

  • We acted for the pursuers in one of the most significant claims for fraud and negligence against a major financial institution to come before the Scottish Courts in recent years.
  • We have acted for banks in claims for negligence against a range of professional advisers including solicitors, valuation surveyors and quantity surveyors.
  • We represented the successful pursuer in case of Cooper v Bank of Scotland, one of the leading cases in the line of authority following the famous House of Lords case of Smith v Bank of Scotland. The case related to a challenge to a security by a spouse who was not offered the opportunity to seek independent legal advice. The judgment issued by the Court of Session in 2014 was the first successful action of this kind reported for 10 years.
  • We have specialist expertise in advising banks and customers in relation to disputes including: the mis-selling of interest rate hedging products; personal guarantees; fraud; enforcement of standard securities; and general loan repayment.

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Competition law

We advise on competition law aspects of corporate transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and the acquisition of companies holding publicly awarded contracts. We also advise on the wide range of competition law issues associated with commercial contracts, including agency, distribution, franchising and licensing.

We represented the SPFL in successfully defending a substantial claim for damages brought on the basis of alleged breaches of Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU in relation to its matchday satellite broadcasting arrangements within the EU.

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Contentious construction

Our contentious construction team offers a full range of advice and representation – be it at arbitration, adjudication or court actions - to public and private sector clients. We work closely with our colleagues in Infrastructure & Projects, Real Estate and Construction and regularly advise on the management and resolution of contentious issues from  an early stage.

Our work:

  • We have extensive experience acting in construction disputes for a wide range of clients from small sub-contractors to large housing associations and major developers, at adjudication, arbitration, in pre-litigation negotiation and at court.
  • Recent notable instructions include: acting in a high value adjudication for a construction services firm; a complex delay claim for a leading civil engineering and construction services group; and defending retention of title claims brought against a major housing association following the administration of a contractor.
  • The core dispute resolution team is supported by our construction law team, members of which have acted as an in-house experts in several arbitrations, adjudications and court actions undertaken by the dispute resolution team.

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Corporate litigation

We advise in relation to disputes between shareholders, LLP members and partnerships, while our work in general commercial contractual disputes has contributed significantly to Harper Macleod becoming one of the most prominent teams in the Commercial Courts of the Court of Session and Sheriff Court.  We also represent clients in the Tax Tribunal.

Our work:

  • We are regularly instructed in unfair prejudice proceedings in the Court of Session.
  • We work closely with our corporate department in relation to shareholder / member / partnership disputes in exploring options for pre-litigation resolutions.
  • We acted for the successful defenders and counterclaimers in a multi million pound breach of warranty claim in the Court of Session. The case arose following the sale of a business and involved extremely complex accounting evidence.
  • We acted for high street retail client in an appeal to the Upper Tribunal in relation to which we concluded negotiations to agree a method of apportioning input VAT between taxable and exempt sales. The result was a several million pound tax saving for the client.

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Debt recovery

Our services range from our commoditised debt recovery team offering fixed-fee services for clients with high-volume needs, to our specialist dispute resolution team offering a bespoke service where the matter requires additional resource.

We have extensive court experience in dealing with actions for payment of debts across a broad range of sectors, including the banking, energy and construction sectors. We regularly pursue and defend actions and appeals in the Sheriff Courts and the Court of Session, and boast one of the most prominent teams in the Commercial Courts.

Our bespoke offering includes advising clients in relation to interim orders, including arrestments and inhibitions. We also have an excellent track record in alternative dispute resolution proceedings.

Our work:

  • We are currently instructed in the pursuit and defence of a range of actions for breach of contract, including construction contracts, contracts of loan, franchise agreements, wind farm development framework agreements and contracts for the provision of professional services.
  • In particular, we are advising private sector clients in their pursuit of an action for payment of in excess of £10million in the Commercial Court of the Court of Session.
  • Our dispute resolution team provides advice and assistance on ADR measures, including mediation, arbitration and adjudication. In particular, we have represented clients at mediations involving multi-million pound claims against banks and food suppliers, and in arbitration proceedings concerning approximately £2million due under and in terms of a commercial contract.
  • We advise clients in relation to enforcement of court orders for payment, including what options are available to them and the associated costs. We have developed a close working relationship with sheriff officers across Scotland.

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Insolvency

We have Scotland’s leading personal insolvency practice and are the only Scottish firm ranked by Chambers UK Guide to the Legal Profession in the UK-wide rankings for personal insolvency. James Lloyd is listed as a band 1 individual in the UK-wide rankings and has arguably advised in more personal insolvency cases than any other solicitor in the UK.

We also have significant expertise in corporate insolvency and Gordon Hollerin is one of the leading practitioners in the Scottish restructuring market. We were named Regional Insolvency Firm of the Year at the prestigious Insolvency & Rescue Awards in London in October 2014.

As well as acting for liquidators and trustees, we are one of the very few firms in the Scottish market with genuine expertise in acting for clients in defending claims brought by liquidators and trustees in sequestration.

Our work:

  • We advised BDO on the high profile administration of Dunfermline Athletic FC and the subsequent transition to a company voluntary arrangement.
  • We have advised the Accountant in Bankruptcy - responsible for administering the process of personal bankruptcy and recording corporate insolvencies in Scotland - for more than a decade.

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Intellectual property infringements

We have particular in-depth experience in resolving disputes relating to IP&T, including many high-profile matters such as advising the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Our work in relation to contentious IP&T has seen us act for clients in relation to matters such as IT contract disputes, patent rights infringement, passing off, infringement of design rights, and copyright infringement (including in the context of online dissemination). We have represented clients in proceedings at the UK Intellectual Property Office, OHIM, WIPO and Nominet. Through our extensive network of international counterparts, we have also managed multiple foreign IP infringement matters.

Our work:

  • We are regularly instructed in relation to often multi jurisdictional intellectual property infringements and brand protection matters.
  • We advised the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in relation to a trademark infringement, and acted in a number of forced transfer of infringing domain names to Glasgow 2014.
  • We regularly advise clients in relation to obtaining interdict and interim interdict against existing IP infringements and in actions for damages for breach of IP use agreements and IP rights generally.

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Public inquiries/planning & environmental

We advise a wide range of clients, from government and national agencies to companies in public inquiries related to complex planning and environmental disputes. We have particular expertise in advising public sector clients on their decision making on planning environmental issues. We have acted in some of the most important environmental law cases in the Court of Session in recent years.

Our work:

  • Our team advised in relation to a successful appeal against a refusal of planning permission for a large scale waste management facility which was dealt with by way of public local inquiry.
  • We have advised and represented the Scottish Ministers, planning authorities, developers and objectors at public inquiries in relation to developments including housing supply and development proposals, supermarket and other retail developments, change of use, trunk road services developments and others.
  • We have represented a range of parties including national environmental and heritage agencies, planning authorities and objectors at Electricity Act S.36 public local inquiries concerning proposals to develop and operate electricity generating plants including CCGT and onshore wind farms.
  • We successfully defended an appeal to the Scottish Land Court brought by owners of river fishing rights which raised novel issues in relation to the EU Habitats Directive and the ECHR right to property.

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Licensing

We are one of Scotland’s leading full-service licensing firms, with our team and Andrew Hunter as an individual, both ranked in Band 1 by Chambers UK. We represent a wide range of clients in proceedings before licensing boards (including alcohol, gambling and civic government). We can also assist where criminal proceedings have been brought against you for breach of any licensing obligations.

Our work:

  • We have acted for the successful party in two of the three most important cases in the Court of Session under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. The first of those – BP Oil (UK) Ltd -v- Glasgow and Edinburgh Licensing Boards - concerned the issuing of premises licences for the sale of alcohol on garage forecourts. The second - Lidl UK Ltd –v- Glasgow Licensing Board – is now the leading case on the power of licensing boards to suspend premises licences for off-sale premises.
  • We act for a leading bookmaker, which has an interest in all applications for betting office licences in Scotland. We have acted for them in judicial review proceedings, statutory appeals in the Court of Session and Sheriff Court and before licensing boards across the country.
  • We act for both on and off-sale operators, ranging from small independent pub operators to major players .
  • Andrew Hunter advises on civic government licensing matters. He advised the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee on public entertainment licenses for activities at games venues, as well as safety certificates, gaming and alcohol licensing.

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Property litigation

We regularly advise clients in relation to real estate litigations, including commercial and residential tenancies, boundary disputes, dilapidations, breach of missives, crofting disputes and statutory appeals.

Our team has breadth of experience and expertise in this area, and has represented the firm’s clients across all levels of civil court in Scotland, including the Sheriff Courts, Court of Session, Scottish Land Court and Lands Tribunal for Scotland. We also have experience in ADR measures, including arbitration and mediation, in relation to real estate matters. 

The team is also able to deal with actions raised in England & Wales.

Our work:

  • We are regularly instructed by both landlords and tenants (including some of the largest bodies corporate and lenders in the UK) in the pursuit and defence of actions for payment for dilapidations, payment of arrears and recovery of possession. 
  • We have acted on behalf of a body corporate in an application to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland for a determination of the compensation payable to them following the making of a Compulsory Purchase Order.
  • We have been instructed to represent clients in the Scottish Land Court in respect of disputes for land management agreements for crofts and refusal of statutory consents in a Site for Special Scientific Interest.
  • We have successfully pursued an application to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland seeking rectification of the Land Register of Scotland, and are instructed in multiple similar applications.
  • We have been instructed by both public and private sector clients in relation to applications to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland to discharge title conditions.
  • We have successfully pursued actions for public and private sector clients for the removal of encroachments on land.
  • We are regularly instructed to represent private landlords in the recovery of possession of residential properties let to tenants under Assured and Short Assured Tenancies.

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Public law and judicial review

We regularly advise clients from the public and private sectors in relation to statutory appeals and judicial reviews of decisions of public authorities. We also provide regular advice to our public sector client base about how best to minimise the risk of judicial review at the decision-making stage. Lead partner Jennifer Jack is ranked as a Band 1 Leading Individual in Chambers UK where she is described as "extremely calm, considered and experienced","very bright" and "good at dealing with the clients in a supportive way".

Our work:

  • We advised two of the UK's largest fuel producers in judicial review proceedings against DECC's enactment of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme Regulations.
  • We have advised local authorities in defending judicial review proceedings including against the refusal of planning consent for a large scale windfarm development, a challenge to the procurement of a major regeneration project, and in relation to challenges to decisions to refuse tax relief in relation to non-domestic rate liabilities.

Regulatory and compliance

From public sector bodies to sports governing bodies, we provide advice on a range of regulatory and disclipinary issues. We also advice on compliance with legislation such as the Data Protection Act.

Our work:

  • We have advised a number of registered social landlords on a range of regulatory issues. This includes engaging in dialogue with a number of regulators, including the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator in relation to: changes to Rules; exercise of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s inquiry and intervention powers; and responding to and addressing the concerns expressed by the Scottish Housing Regulator in relation to the governance of registered social landlords.
  • We regularly received instructions from Scottish sports governing bodies in relation to their complaints procedures and appropriate methods of responding to complaints. We have also provided advice on the constitution of disciplinary panels in respect of clubs, players and coaches, as well as providing assistance and representation at such hearings.
  • We advise clients who are subject to investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for alleged breach of the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
  • We advise on compliance with the codes for broadcast advertising in the UK and abroad, and made representations to the regulatory authorities charged with ensuring compliance.
  • We have previously provided in-house assistance to a leading professional body in respect of a project to re-draft its regulatory framework. This included the analytical and critical review of the existing Rules, Regulations and Guidance.
  • We have also represented professionals at disciplinary proceedings brought against them by their professional body's investigations.
  • We act for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and regularly advise on the investigation and determination of claims against solicitors and advocates, including representing the interests of the SLCC in appeals to the Court of Session against its decision making.

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Key contact

Reputation management/media & broadcasting

We advise on a wide range of media-related issues and disputes. We help both private individuals and companies or organisations protect their reputation, from advising on the PR aspects of contentious issues to raising or defending claims of defamation. We also have particular experience of advising on broadcasting agreements and protecting rights under these, as well as advising clients on compliance with codes for broadcast advertising. 

Our work:

  • We are regularly instructed by clients to advise on bringing and defending claims arising from the making of defamatory statements, including statements made in national newspapers and on social media platforms. Our work ranges from the sending of letters as a “shot across the bows” to raising defamation proceedings in the Court of Session and we have acted in several high-profile actions against national media outlets. 
  • Our team also regularly advises clients across the firm on the public relations aspects of contentious issues, and regularly negotiates confidentiality agreements as part of the settlement of disputes.

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Sports disciplinary and regulation

We have the leading sports law practice in the country. While the greatest volume of our contentious work is in relation to rugby and football, our involvement with the Glasgow 18 European Championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games and other major sporting events has led to us advising in disputes relating to netball, snooker, fencing, ju jitsu and many more. 

Our work:

  • Bruce Caldow and David Kerr have both represented players at disciplinary proceedings before the ERC panel.
  • In football, we have represented several SPFL teams, players and managers in disciplinary proceedings at the SFA and at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
  • We have represented SPFL teams, players and agents in court proceedings arising out of football agency arrangements.

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Wills, trusts and estates

We act in a diverse range of actions, both pursuing and defending, for executors, beneficiaries and adults not in control of their own property.

Our work:

  • We represent the interests of private clients in respect of making and opposing applications for welfare and financial powers by family members or carers, where such powers are not seen as being in the best interests of the incapacitated adult. We have been instructed to prevent care homes from intromitting with the adult’s property without authority and seek the right to have input in the level of hospital care to be provided to a comatose patient under the care of a Power of Attorney.
  • We have acted on behalf of both executors and beneficiaries in representing their interests in disputes over the distribution of property, and both pursued and defended actions for count, reckoning and payment. 
  • We have acted on behalf of former partners in a business following the dissolution of the partnership as a result of death of a partner, for distribution of the post-death partnership assets.
  • We have sought and defended interdict actions and actions for delivery brought between beneficiary siblings regarding the removal of deceased’s property during the ingathering of the estate by Executors.

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