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“the members of Axiom Advocates are among the best in the Faculty of Advocates.” Chambers UK 2013

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“the members of Axiom Advocates are among the best in the Faculty of Advocates.” Chambers UK 2013

02 November 2012

Following the recent publication of Chambers UK 2013, Axiom is delighted to have secured 71 recommendations in the top legal directory with 75% of the membership being ranked as leaders at the bar. Reviewers were high in their praise for Axiom stating "the members of Axiom Advocates are among the best in the Faculty of Advocates."

Axiom is the only Scottish set to achieve a Band 1 ranking in the areas of Administrative and public law, Commercial dispute resolution,  Construction and Intellectual property. Axiom Advocates is also delighted to be the only Scottish set to appe ar in the set comparisons with the highest proportion of barrister rankings. Axiom has risen from 22nd place last year to 7th this year.

The experience and expertise of Axiom was also recognised in numerous other fields including: Clinical negligence, Company, Defamation/Privacy, Media a nd Entertainment, Pensions, Planning, Professional discipline, Professional negligence, Public procurement; and Tax.

Administrative and Public (Band 1)

THE SET Axiom Advocates is a true powerhouse of Sco ttish public law, offering unrivalled coverage of the area for both applicant and respondent clients. The reputation of the stable is undisputed, with sources saying that "the members of Axiom Advocates are among the best in the Faculty of Advocates." The excellence of the clerking is also noted, wi th the team being hailed as "very organised and efficient." The set also boasts members who act for individual claimants in public law cases with a human rights dimension.

SILKS David Johnston QC acts for and against the government in public law cases with a commercial slant. He offers "a consistently high standard of advice in relation to matters of statutory interpretation concerning the founding legislation of numerous public bodies and parliamentary appointees." Solicitors favour him as he has "an excellent grasp of detail a nd the ability to present complex matters in a clear and logical way."

Dean of Faculty Richard Keen QC is a "fabulous advocate" with a focus on the commercial side of public law. A mark of his eminence came with his instruction to act for a group of four insurance companies in the ground-breaking Axa General Insurance and others v the Lord Advocate. His performance in this case was described by one source as being "mesmerically good."
Mark Lindsay QC is highlighted by solicitors "for his expertise in public and regulatory law and his practical, no-nonsense approach." Sources also comment on his excellent level of client service, and add that "he has good commercial awareness, provides excellent written work and turns instructions around promptly."

James Wolffe QC is praised as "an exceptionally able and hard-working advocate, possessed of acute insight and very sound judgement." He acts for and against the government at all levels.

Ruth Crawford QC is instructed by the Scottish government and public bodies in a broad range of administrative law matters. She, too, appeared in the Axa General Insurance case. Interviewees speak highly of "the measured way in which she presents cases in court."

James Mure QC acts for the Scottish government and other public bodies on planning and environmental law matters. He is also an expert on judicial reviews generally, and was involved in the challenge by Imperial Tobacco to the ban on point-of-sale tobacco displays. He is "very methodical in weighing up the pros and cons of a case and good at identifying options for the client," say sources.

Alistair Clark QC is a public procurement expert who receives strong praise from market observers. According to those that instruct him "he is very easy to work with, takes a pragmatic approach and isn't scared to fight the case."

The respected Gerry Moynihan QC "has the ear of the court," say sources, who add that "he is the sort of advocate who is brilliant at seeing the broader picture." He handles cases at the intersection of commercial and administrative law, and has a thriving human rights practice.

Sarah Wolffe QC has a broad public, commercial and regulatory law practice, with one source revealing that "she has a very firm grasp of the area of the law of the common good - which is quite complex and arcane at times - and a fine overall grasp of public law."

JUNIORS Morag Ross is described by sources as "one of the best juniors in Scotland." Her public and commercial law practice is particularly focused on cases involving public procurement and freedom of information.

First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Government Anna Poole is "extremely diligent and always well prepared for court." While her public law practice is remarkably broad, she has a particular specialism in judicial reviews connected with children's hearings.

John MacGregor receives instructions from the Scottish government and other public bodies, and was instructed in the Axa General Insurance. One source reports being "impressed by his analysis and by the way he prepares for a case; his performance in court is excellent."

Clinical negligence (Band 2)

THE SET Axiom Chambers is growing its clinical negligence practice, and has been receiving increasing instructions from a broad range of clients, including medical and dental defence unions. The team principally focuses on complex and high-value clinical negligence claims, and commentators note that "it has a high number of experienced counsel who you can take the knotty cases to."

SILKS Iain Ferguson QC has considerable expertise in a broad range of clinical negligence claims, and is noted by commentators for his strong track record in complex obstetric cases. Instructing solicitors believe that "his key strengths are his attention to detail and oratory skills," stating that "he is a master in questioning witnesses in a clinical yet courteous manner."

Roddy Dunlop QC is "an outstanding advocate who always has the ear of the court." He has a broad practice, and tackles media law, professional negligence, professional discipline and intellectual property cases, alongside his clinical negligence work.

Commercial Dispute Resolution (Band 1)

THE SET Axiom Advocates is Scotland's "stable of choice for commercial disputes," with sources saying it has "a virtual monopoly on the heavyweight senior counsel and has selected its juniors well." The stable specialises in commercial law, and has established a reputation at the Scottish Bar for complex and high-profile litigation. Instructing solicitors are full of praise for it, saying: "You're always assured of getting a good service here."

SILKS Richard Keen QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, is "the outstanding advocate of his generation" and "the top civil silk in Scotland." He is the first choice for high-value, complex litigation and is prized for his versatility: "We'd use him for any type of civil law matter," say solicitors. Keen is particularly noted for his "fantastic" court presence and excellent performance in cross-examination. His recent highlights include the case of Commonwealth Oil and Gas v Baxter and others.

Heriot Currie QC is a "superb" and "hugely talented" advocate. Similar to Keen, he has a wide-ranging practice that takes in judicial review, public procurement, construction, planning, environmental law, intellectual property, professional negligence, EU law and competition law. Sources say: "His reputation as one of the best commercial QCs in Scotland is well-deserved."

Alistair Clark QC is regarded by fellow silks as "a doughty opponent, but also a very honourable and straightforward man to deal with." He has expertise in intellectual property as well as general commercial litigation. Solicitors praise him for being "extremely clever and very user-friendly."

Jonathan Lake QC is "a natural in court, who is very bright and tough." He attracts praise for being client-focused in his approach whilst also being "not afraid to push the envelope on arguing points that are complex and technical." Lake specialises in IP, contract and property disputes, and has further expertise in planning and public procurement.

Gerry Moynihan QC was repeatedly singled out by solicitors as being good to work with and is praised as "a cerebral character, who is scarily clever, and seems to solve legal problems at twice the speed of anyone else." His practice encompasses commercial contract and property disputes, as well as public law matters.

Roddy Dunlop QC is "heartily" recommended for media and defamation matters. Technically sound, good on his feet and "extremely client-friendly," he is a reassuring barrister for solicitors as "even when you don't have the strongest of cases, he can help as he's very persuasive." He recently acted for the defender in Whyte & MacKay v Capstone.

Sarah Wolffe QC is a "strong, technical lawyer who gets on well with clients." Recently, she acted in Landsbanki Islands (in Liquidation) HF v Heritable Bank Plc, a cross-border insolvency dispute. Particularly interested in unusual, technical or complex cases, she works in banking, insurance, insolvency, company and shareholder cases, amongst others.

James McNeill QC "brings a lot of gravitas to any case he is involved in" and is "a true heavyweight senior of the Scottish Bar." He is instructed on a range of commercial disputes and is highly experienced.

James Mure QC is well regarded by interviewees. His commercial work covers contractual, property, construction, planning, environmental and professional liability disputes. "Well prepared," "intellectual" and "a pleasure to work with," he is said to have "the ear of the court."

James Wolffe QC is "very highly regarded for his court performance" as well as his academic ability, so much so that commentators hail him as "one of the best commercial QCs in Scotland." His expertise crosses both commercial and public law.

David Johnston QC is "right at the higher end of the intellectual spectrum," but is nevertheless "a very down-to-earth character." He recently appeared in the case of Tor Corporate AS v Chinese National Star Petroleum.

Mark Lindsay QC represented the pursuer in Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd v NEMI Forsikring ASA, a case regarding a contract of insurance subject to Norwegian law. He is highly recommended by instructing solicitors, who highlight his "excellent advocacy skills and approachable, client-friendly manner."

JUNIORS Almira Delibegovi?-Broome's background in venture capital and corporate finance assists her when she is handling corporate restructuring and schemes of arrangement disputes. "Astute" and "authoritative," she is recommended by solicitors not only for her legal skills but also for being client-friendly and a pleasure to work with.

Solicitors praise Garry Borland for his "mastery of the law" and say that "you can always be sure he won't miss a thing." A standout junior on cases of high value or complexity, he is regularly instructed as sole counsel. Areas of particular strength for him are construction, professional negligence and commercial contracts disputes.

Martin Richardson is a sought-after junior, with a focus on professional negligence and construction disputes. He was instructed for the first defender in GTC Group Ltd v Stuart Melville and others, a £3 million fraud case. He "an incredibly clever chap" who is "accomplished beyond his years of call."

Jonathan Barne comes in for praise from interviewees for his "ability to martial complex facts and distil complex legal issues" with ease. He is commended for his "clear, considered advice" and for being "amenable to the idea of a good fight" in court.

Kenneth McBrearty is "the complete deal." "Very hard-working and intelligent," he is good in court and is praised for the quality of his judgement. He is instructed on high-value, complex actions, and he recently appeared for the pursuers in Stokors S.A. v Steven Alexander, proceedings concerning alleged derivative trading fraud.

Roisin Higgins appeared with Jonathan Lake QC in the Commercial Court of the Court of Session on the East Dunbartonshire Council v Bett Homes case. She earns plaudits from silks and solicitors alike for her work ethic, tenacity and brightness, and is particularly celebrated for her IP work. "She is an unrivalled talent at the Junior Bar when it comes to handling copyright and trade mark cases."

Morag Ross is "highly regarded" for her "very sound judgement." Her commercial practice covers contractual and property disputes. She is recommended along with Alastair Duncan, who was instructed in the high-profile Royal Bank of Scotland v Derek Carlyle appeal. He is "very accomplished and commercial, and one of the best juniors at the Scottish Bar." Instructing solicitors praise his powers of analysis and proactive approach to cases.

They are also impressed by Alasdair McKenzie, who is tipped as a "standout performer of the future." Commentators particularly like the way "he immerses himself in complex, detailed cases."

Paul O'Brien appears both individually and with senior counsel in the commercial courts. He has been acting with Heriot Currie QC for the Icelandic bank in Winding-up Board of Landsbanki Islands HF v Administrators of Heritable Bank plc.


Richard Keen QC of Axiom Advocates is Dean of the Faculty and a superb lawyer who is "brilliant at anything he turns his hand to." Commentators say he is "very impressive. He's quick to pick up the detail and understand the commercial points, and has a real ability to express an argument in a simple yet persuasive manner."

Construction (Band 1)

THE SET Axiom is without doubt Scotland's leading set for all matters relating to construction law. It remains a popular choice with clients and instructing solicitors thanks to its "very capable, user-friendly and highly responsive advocates." The set, which is praised by sources for being "very professional," is known for its work in both Scotland and England. Its advocates act on a variety of complex and high-value litigations, adjudications, arbitrations and mediations.

SILKS Heriot Currie QC is "a good court performer," who is "extremely able and very persuasive." Recent work highlights for him have included advising on an adjudication relating to the Edinburgh Tram Network. He is also experienced in arbitrations and is a trained mediator.

Richard Keen QC is valued by sources for his attention to detail and his forward-thinking, commercial approach. He is described as "a very accomplished performer," and has recently acted on such key matters as a dispute involving a construction contract and insurance coverage relating to a power station.

JUNIORS The "very bright and hard-working" Garry Borland acts on a range of major disputes both in Scotland and across the UK. "He is extremely thorough and gets on well with clients," say solicitors. Commentators note his "very impressive grasp of the detail in a case" and say that he offers "a good commercial overview and is always very clear in his thinking." They attribute these qualities in part to the strong grounding in construction law he received as a solicitor in a market-leading construction team.

Gavin Walker is very much in demand as a construction advocate. He regularly receives instructions on a range of cases relating to construction and professional negligence. Recently, he acted for the main contractor on a £2 million dispute concerning claims of defective works and professional negligence.

Alasdair McKenzie is another who came to the Bar after working as a solicitor in a top construction practice. His practice covers a variety of construction and engineering and professional negligence disputes, and he wins praise for being a "smart, accessible and very user-friendly" advocate.

The "extremely capable" Martin Richardson is another fine junior who enjoys a considerable construction practice. Observers describe him as being a "brilliant technical lawyer with good commercial sense who is very easy to work with."


Roddy Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates has a strong focus on media law, including related privacy and defamation claims. He is hailed as "incredibly user-friendly," and is acknowledged as "a real standout for work in this area north of the border." He has been instructed by News Group Newspapers in relation to the Tommy Sheridan affair.

Intellectual Property (Band 1)

THE SET Axiom Advocates represents "a grouping of some of the best advocates in Scotland." It is the stable of choice for IP matters, and has the most experienced advocates in the field for this type of work. Acting for both pursuers and defenders, its members appear in some of the leading cases in the field including Bayer Cropscience KK v Charles River Laboratories Limited & Anr. Solicitors speak highly of the stable and also praise the client service on offer here: "The clerks do a fantastic job - they are incredibly efficient, courteous and proficient."

SILKS Heriot Currie QC "is one of the leading commercial silks in Scotland, and is very experienced in presenting cases in court." He appeared in the medical patent infringement case of Verathon Medical (Canada) ULC v Aircraft Medical Ltd.

Jonathan Lake QC "has an awful lot of experience and can really break down complicated cases." Solicitors say he is "a man with an eye for detail," who is "very good on his feet when handling complicated patent cases." His "commercially strategic approach" is much applauded by clients. He acted on the other side in the Verathon Medical case, and also appeared in Donald Ross Estate Agents Ltd v Ross Professional and others, a passing off and trade mark infringement case. He was also instructed in Scotch Whisky Association v Reynald & Sons Limited, a matter concerning the passing off of whisky products that don't qualify for that designation.

JUNIORS Roisin Higgins is a senior junior counsel widely recognised to be a go-to barrister for IP disputes. Sources say: "She has the most experience of any junior in Scotland and is ideal for complicated cases."

Paul O'Brien "is one of the cleverest juniors at Axiom." According to solicitors, he is known for his "superior analysis of complex problems." He was yet another at the set to be involved in the Verathon Medical case.

Media and entertainment

Alistair Clark QC of Axiom Advocates is "great in and out of court, and very approachable." His marquee clients include News Group Newspapers, and he recently advised on that company's appeal following the Sheridan trial.

Roddy Dunlop QC, also at Axiom Advocates, has an enviable client roster that includes both The Daily Record and The Sunday Times. Sources say that this user-friendly barrister "has all the law at his fingertips, and is very good with clients."


Solicitors in Scotland turn to trusts lawyer James McNeill QC of Axiom Advocates for opinions on pension scheme issues and documentation governed by Scottish law. He is considered to have the "highest profile in the country" in this area and is recommended for his "practical and sensible" approach.


Ruth Crawford QC of Axiom Advocates has "an incisive, no-nonsense approach" and "consistently delivers results for her clients across a range of planning and commercial work." She acts for public and private sector clients on a range of planning matters.

Professional Discipline

Roddy Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates has a broad practice which is concentrated on media law, professional negligence and professional discipline. He is lauded by peers as "a consummate professional" who "prepares completely and argues very persuasively." He receives frequent instructions from regulatory bodies, including the Law Society of Scotland, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Mark Lindsay QC at the same set is a commercial and public law specialist. He recently acted for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) in an appeal to the Inner House. This case concerned the Commission's duty to engage with a solicitor who has been complained about before it produces a decision on the veracity of the complaint.

Professional Negligence

Roddy Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates is a formidable defence advocate with a wide practice. Recent standout instructions for him include Santander PLC v Allied Surveyors, where he successfully defended claims of negligence against a surveyor. The case was important as it was the first one of its kind in Scotland to test the legal principles decided in Nykredit Mortgage Bank v Edward Erdman.

Stablemate Iain Ferguson QC enjoys an excellent reputation and is commended for his advocacy skills. An extremely experienced practitioner, he handles both general professional negligence practice and clinical negligence. Sources say he is "very analytical. He reads the papers, understands them and drills down to the really crucial issues, separating the relevant from the irrelevant."

The extremely approachable Alastair Duncan, also at Axiom, has an outstanding reputation, and wins praise for the pragmatic and commercial way he handles claims. Interviewees describe him as "a leader in his field, who knows the papers inside out and is very good in court."

The set further includes the "brilliant" Kenneth McBrearty, who is highly respected by peers and clients. He harnesses his wider commercial experience to a range of claims, acting predominantly for and against solicitors.

Likewise Martin Richardson of the same stable wins praise as "a clever young advocate." Market commentators value the depth of knowledge that comes from his background as a solicitor. "He is amazing and is widely recognised in the market," say sources.

Finally at Axiom, Jonathan Barne is an experienced litigator with an enviable mastery of the claims he handles. He offers an impressive breadth of practice and handles complex, multimillion-pound disputes.

Public Procurement

James Mure QC of Axiom Advocates is appreciated by leading solicitors for the clarity of his advice and for his "ability to distil a client's options into a few clear points." He is "technically very, very good" and is considered a pleasure to work with. His services are much in demand by government, local authorities and public sector organisations.

Morag Ross is at the same set and is renowned for being "hugely experienced and knowledgeable in this area," according to market sources. She has an approachable manner and puts clients at ease, say those that instruct her. One recent highlight saw her appear for the Common Services Agency in a dispute concerning a procurement challenge mounted by a supplier of radiotherapy equipment.

Alistair Clark QC, also of Axiom Advocates, has a strong following among local authorities and public bodies, as well as with private contractors. He recently acted for Argyll & Bute Council in its defence of a procurement challenge brought by a road transport company. 

Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)

THE SET Axiom Advocates advises in relation to all the main insolvency regimes in Scotland, offering counsel on insolvent liquidations, administrations, receiverships and voluntary arrangements. It is a stable of well-regarded and experienced advocates who mesh admirably with clerks that commentators have described as being organised and efficient.

SILKS James McNeill QC is one of the most well-regarded advocates in Scotland and is regularly recommended for his insolvency expertise.

JUNIORS Garry Borland runs an extensive construction and company law practice alongside his restructuring and insolvency law work. He is highly recommended as is the "knowledgeable and impressive" Almira Delibegovi?-Broome. Commentators say she "is tenacious and is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and fight causes that others will not."

Susan Ower is a promising advocate who is "committed and is really making the effort to become a true restructuring expert."

Tax (Band 2)

This stable offers counsel adept at a range of corporate tax matters. They advise on the structuring of transactions (including disputes after completion), matters relating to company acquisitions and disposals,  and shareholder disputes. In each of these areas, Axiom attracts some of the most technically demanding cases in the field. 

SILKS Heriot Currie QC is "one of the most experienced and commercially minded counsel at the Bar." His tax practice is characterised by a particular interest in matters relating to VAT, and by way of illustration he was recently involved in a major carousel fraud case before the VAT Tribunal. Known for his punchy approach, he has forged a reputation as an advocate who "doesn't miss a point, is very quick on his feet, and understands where arguments are likely to go." Accordingly, fellow practitioners place him "firmly in the top tier of those individuals with a tax specialism."

David Johnston QC is "good at turning his hand to a wide range of matters with tax aspects attached to them." Notable instances of his practice include cases in the areas of employment-related securities, and insurance company taxation. Commentators say that he "offers extraordinarily thoughtful counsel," and that he is "a very deft advocate in front of the court, who is extremely good at putting across a difficult position." Johnston is renowned for having "an almost gentle approach, but one that is thoroughly reinforced by solid learning."

James McNeill QC advises on tax matters pertaining to trust and occupational pensions, finance, and corporate
reconstructions. He is "an extremely learned member of the senior Bar," who "would be on anyone's list for an important tax case."

Sarah Wolffe QC, renowned by fellow advocates for being "very effective in tax," has acted for HMRC in the VAT Tribunal and the First Tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber). Her many tax cases include VIP (Scotland) Ltd v HMRC, and Edinburgh Telford College v HMRC, which featured a number of elements relating to VAT and input tax.  

Full details of all rankings can be found at Chambers UK 2013 Bar Guide:-