Education & Professional Qualifications
Barrister, England and Wales (Middle Temple) 2013
DipLP, 1986-1987, Edinburgh University
BCL (First Class) 1984-1986, Balliol College, Oxford University
LLB (Hons, First Class; Lord President Cooper Memorial Prizewinner), 1980-1984, Edinburgh University
Professional Career to date
2014: Elected Dean of Faculty
2013: Called to the English bar (Middle Temple)
2013-2014: Vice Dean of Faculty
2013: Appointed member, Police Appeal Tribunal
2007-2010: Advocate Depute and Senior Advocate Depute
2007: Appointed QC
2002-2007: First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Ministers
1992: Admitted as an Advocate
1987-1992: Part-time Tutor and Lecturer, Edinburgh University
1990-1991: Legal Assistant to the Lord President of the Court of Session
1987-1990: Trainee Solicitor and Solicitor, Maclay Murray & Spens
Devil Masters: Heriot W. Currie QC, J. Gordon Reid QC, Ian M. Duguid QC.
Between 2002 and 2007 James Wolffe was First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Ministers. From 2007 until 2010, as an Advocate Depute, he prosecuted serious criminal cases in the High Court of Justiciary, and represented the Crown in criminal appeals, including appeals raising significant Convention rights questions. He has appeared in civil and criminal courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. In Febuary 2013 James was elected Vice Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and then Dean of Faculty in February 2014.
James is highly recommended in Chambers UK 2015 Bar Directory for Commercial dispute resolution and Administrative and public law. He is a member of the Faculty Dispute Resolution Service. He is a door tenant at Brick Court Chambers, London.
Courts & Tribunal Experience
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom; Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; House of Lords; Criminal Appeal Court; Inner House of the Court of Session; High Court of Justiciary; Outer House of the Court of Session; Scottish Land Court; European Court of Justice; European Court of Human Rights; Sheriff Court; Upper Tribunal; Arbitrations.
Appointments & Memberships
Dean of the Faculty of Advocates
Council member, JUSTICE Scotland
Head of UK delegation to the CCBE (Council of European Bars and Law Societies)
Fellow, European Law Institute
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
2013-2014: Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates
2013-2014: Member, Scottish Civil Justice Council
2011-2014: Chair, Scottish Council of Law Reporting
2011-2013: Convenor, Faculty of Advocates Law Reform Committee
2008-2013: Trustee, National Library of Scotland
2005-2006: Member, Scottish Executive Research Working Group into the Legal Profession in Scotland
1999 and 2011: Member, Scottish Law Commission Advisory Group on Contract Law
Public law, judicial review and human rights
Legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament
Salvesen v Riddell  UKSC 22 - UK Supreme Court - s. 72 Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 - whether compatible with Article 1 of the First Protocol
Sinclair Collis Ltd v Lord Advocate  CSIH 80 - s.9 Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 - prohibition on sales of tobacco from vending machines - compatibility with EU law - free movement of goods.
Martin v Most 2010 SC (UKSC) 40 – UK Supreme Court - s. 45 Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform)(Scotland) Act 2007 – whether alteration in sentencing power of sheriff in summary proceedings was within legislative competence insofar as it affected road traffic offences (a matter reserved to the UK Parliament).
Friend v Lord Advocate 2006 SC 121 – Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 – whether Acts of the Scottish Parliament required to be in conformity with international obligations of the United Kingdom; whether Act incompatible with Articles 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 17 and 53 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Adams v Scottish Ministers 2003 SC 170, 2004 SC 665 – Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 – whether Act incompatible with Article 8, 11 or 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights or with Article 1 of the First Protocol.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar v Scottish Ministers  CSIH 6,  CSIH 45 – Schools (Consultation)(Scotland) Act 2010; consultation on closure of rural schools; role of the Scottish Government on call in of proposals; whether Scottish Government had applied correct legal test for call-in.
Capacity Building Project Ltd v Edinburgh City Council  CSOH 58 – closure of community centre; public sector equality duty; common good.
Gloag v Perth & Kinross Council 2007 SCLR 530 – public access rights.
Dundee City Council v GK 2006 SC 326 – freeing for adoption; whether legislation compatible with the Convention.
Johnston v Western Isles Licensing Board  CSOH 45 – whether refusal of regular extension of opening hours lawful .
Transco plc v Glasgow City Council 2005 SLT 958 – whether party carrying out structural repairs to bridge had claim in unjustified enrichment against roads authority.
E v United Kingdom (2003) 36 EHRR 31 – European Court of Human Rights - state obligation to protect children against sexual abuse.
Shetland Island Council v Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland 1999 GWD 6-314 – whether reorganization of boundaries lawful.
McPhee v North Lanarkshire Council 1998 SLT 1317 – removal of traveler from site; legitimate expectation.
Lord Advocate v. Fatjon Kapri  HCJAC 33 - whether extradition to Albania would be incompatible with Article 6 on the basis of systemic judicial corruption in that system
Cloburn Quarry Limited v. Advocate General for Scotland  CSOH 203 - state aids - taxation - whether use of summary warrant procedure incompatible with Article 1 of the First Protocol
Paterson v. United Kingdom, Application No. 19923/10 - European Court of Human Rights - Article 6 - access to lawyer - striking out
Ruddy v. Chief Constable and Lord Advocate  CSIH 73 - Article 3 procedural obligation - structural independence and public participation.
Whyte and Mackay Ltd v. Blyth & Blyth Consulting Engineers Ltd  CSOH 54 - enforcement of adjudicator's award; compatibility with Convention rights (A1P1 and Article 6).
KAS v. United Kingdom, Application No. 38844/12 - European Court of Human Rights - Article 8 - extradition - striking out
Graham Gordon v. United Kingdom, Application No. 10671/10 - European Court of Human Rights - Article 6 - determination of criminal charge within a reasonable time - striking out
Ruddy v. Chief Constable and Lord Advocate  UKSC 57 - UK Supreme Court - competency of bringing damages claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 for breaches of Article 3 in its substantive and procedural aspects by ordinary action.
BH and KAS or H v Lord Advocate  UKSC 24 – UK Supreme Court - Article 8: extradition and the right to family life.
Brian Johnstone v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2012 JC 79 – Article 5: orders for lifelong restriction.
Cadder v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2011 SC (UKSC) 13 – UK Supreme Court - Article 6: access to a solicitor.
Duncan Maclean v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2010 SLT 73 – Article 6: access to a solicitor.
McDonald v Her Majesty's Advocate 2008 SLT 144, 2010 SC (PC) 1 – Judicial Committee of the Privy Council - Article 6: disclosure in criminal appeals.
George Francis Burns v Her Majesty’s Advocate  1 AC 720 – Judicial Committee of the Privy Council - Article 6: application of the right to trial within a reasonable time to cross-border cases.
Somerville v Scottish Ministers 2007 SC 140, 2008 SC (HL) 45 – House of Lords - time bar in human rights cases; prisoners’ rights; public interest immunity.
SK v Paterson 2010 SC 186 – Articles 6 and 8: availability of state-funded legal assistance in children’s hearings.
Berry v United Kingdom, Application No. 41512/05 - European Court of Human Rights - Article 6 - delay - friendly settlement
Kearney v Her Majesty's Advocate 2006 SC (PC) 1 – Judicial Committee of the Privy Council - Article 6: trial before a temporary judge.
Dundee City Council v GK 2006 SC 326 – Articles 6 and 8: whether statutory provisions on freeing for adoption compatible with Convention rights.
McCall v Scottish Ministers 2006 SC 266 – Article 1 of the First Protocol: retrospective application of change to legal aid funding.
Napier v Scottish Ministers 2005 SC 229, 307 – Articles 3 and 8: prison conditions.
E v United Kingdom (2003) 36 EHRR 31 – European Court of Human Rights - Article 3: state responsibility for failure to protect children from sexual abuse.
Karl Construction Ltd v Palisade Properties plc (2002) 85 Con LR 59 – Article 1 of the First Protocol: whether law on inhibition on the dependence compatible with Convention rights.
BBC, Petitioners (No. 2) 2000 JC 521 – Article 10: whether restriction on broadcasting Lockerbie trial compatible with Convention rights.
KP and MRK v Home Secretary  CSIH 38,  CSIH 70 – whether RCS 41.59, enacting second appeals test for appeals from the Upper Tribunal within the powers of the Court of Session; whether Upper Tribunal erred.
Patersons of Greenoakhill v. Scottish Ministers  CSIH 24 - appeal against Reporter's decision - minerals development - interpretation of policy
Land Securities Group plc v Scottish Ministers 2007 SC (HL) 57 – House of Lords - whether decision to approve alteration to structure plan lawful
Spey District Fishery Board v Scottish Ministers  CSOH 43 – whether decision approving construction and operation of windfarm lawful.
Tesco Stores Ltd, Petitioners, 2002 – whether decision not to hold examination in public in respect of approval of new structure plan lawful.
Bondway Properties Ltd v Edinburgh City Council 1999 SLT 127 – NPPG8 – title and interest to sue.
Disciplinary and regulatory proceedings
Davies v The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care  UKSC 12 - UK Supreme Court - transitional provisions - interpretation
Lutton v General Dental Council  CSIH 62 – General Dental Council – issue of warning; whether reasons adequate – delay.
Simpson & Marwick WS v HMRC  CSIH 29 – VAT bad debt relief.
IRC v General Commissioners  CSOH 135 – whether decision of General Commissioners allowing late appeals lawful.
Fatal accident inquiry into the deaths at Rosepark Care Home.
Lord Advocate v. Fatjon Kapri  HCJAC 33 - whether extradition to Albania would be incompatible with Article 6 on the basis of systemic judicial corruption in that system
Lord Advocate v Fatjon Kapri  UKSC - UK Supreme Court - whether extradition proceedings "criminal proceedings" for purposes of compatibility issue appeals to UK Supreme Court - whether inquiry required into allegation of judicial corruption in Albania
KAS v United Kingdom, Application No. 38844/12 - European Court of Human Rights - Article 8 - extradition - striking out
BH and KAS or H v Lord Advocate  UKSC 24 - UK Supreme Court - Article 8: extradition and the right to family life.
Lord Advocate v Fatjon Kapri  HCJAC 17 – trial in absence; Albania.
Lord Advocate v Havrilova  HCJAC 113 – whether statutory time limit on detention applicable to domestic criminal proceedings also applies to extradition proceedings.
Calder v Lord Advocate 2006 SCCR 609 – specialty; Article 8; United States.
Brian Johnstone v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2012 JC 79 – orders for lifelong restriction.
Jennifer Liehne v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2011 SLT 1114 – nature and extent of trial judge’s obligation to direct jury on the evidence as well as the law.
William Johnston v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2012 JC 49 – concert exception to hearsay rule.
Mark Harris v Her Majesty's Advocate 2009 SLT 1078 – test for breach of the peace at common law.
Lowrie, McDonald & Ahmed v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2010 JC 25 – money laundering - whether law of concert applicable.
MacAngus v Her Majesty's Advocate 2009 SLT 137 – culpable homicide by supply of drugs.
Heidi Mackay v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2008 SCCR 37 – admissibility of evidence of prior police statement implicating co-accused.
Locke v Her Majesty's Advocate 2008 SCCR 236 – sentencing practice in relation to discretionary life sentences – whether change in sentencing guidance from Criminal Appeal Court applies retrospectively.
Brouillard v Her Majesty’s Advocate 2004 JC 176 – law of abduction.
Case C-335/13 Feakins v. Scottish Government - Common Agricultural Policy - Commission Regulation (EC) No 795/2004 - interpretation - equal treatment - reference from the Scottish Land Court to the Court of Justice of the European Union
Cloburn Quarry Limited v. Advocate General for Scotland  CSOH 203 - state aids - taxation - Aggregates Levy - the Boiron rule - whether Aggregates Levy enforceable against taxpayer when exemptions to the Levy are the subject of investigation by the Commission under Article 108(2) TFEU
Sinclair Collis Ltd v Lord Advocate  CSIH 80 - free movement of goods - Articles 34 and 36 - tobacco vending machines - selling arrangements - proportionality
Angus Growers Ltd v Scottish Ministers  CSIH 92 – common agricultural policy; withdrawal of recognition of producer organisation.
Simpson & Marwick WS v HMRC  UKUT 498 (TCC) – VAT bad debt relief.
Scotbeef Ltd v Palmero 2006 SC 1 – food safety; challenge to validity of Directive; whether reference to ECJ appropriate.
In addition to these cases, James has advised public authorities on procurement and state aid issues. He has lectured on the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Mapeley Acquisition Co (3) Ltd (in receivership) v. City of Edinburgh Council  CSOH 29 - dilapidations claim - interpretation of commercial lease
Glasgow City Council v. Board of Managers of Springboig St Johns  CSOH 76 - diligence on the dependence - whether trust assets attachable - dual patrimony analysis of trusts
Fraser and Another, Petitioners  CSOH 184 - competency of bringing proceedings under sections 242 and 243 of the Insolvency Act 1986 by way of petition
Tor Corporate AS v Sinopec Group Star Petroleum Company Ltd  CSOH 112 – repudiation of management agreement of drilling rig; arbitration; scope of plea of competent and omitted.
Hadrian SARL v Aitken  CSOH 84 - limited recourse loan agreement; interpretation of agreement.
Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland v Lloyds Banking Group plc  CSIH 87 – interpretation of deed of undertaking; effect of change of circumstances.
Marine Harvest v NEMI Forsikring SA  CSOH 91 – aquaculture insurance; claim under policy; cause of mortalities.
Glasgow City Council v Caststop Ltd 2004 SCLR 283 – interpretation of price uplift clause in commercial missives.
BP Exploration Ltd v Chevron (Transport) Scotland 2002 SC (HL) 19 – House of Lords - shipping; damages claim against bareboat charterer under s. 74 Harbours Docks & Piers Act 1847; effect of error on running of time for purposes of prescription.
Caledonia North Sea Ltd v BT plc 2000 SLT 1123, 2002 SC (HL) 117 – House of Lords - Piper Alpha disaster; indemnity claims; cause of explosion on oil platform; interpretation of indemnities; application of law of contribution and subrogation.
McLaughlin v Allied Irish Bank 2001 SC 485 – banking; whether arrestment in hands of bank attached proceeds of cheque presented to bank for collection but not yet paid by paying bank.
Norwich Union Life Insurance Society v Tanap Investments VK Ltd 2000 SC 515 – rectification of agreement.
Highland and Universal Properties Ltd v Safeway Stores Ltd 2000 SC 297 – commercial lease; “keep open” clause; enforceability by specific implement.
Whyte and Mackay Ltd v. Blyth & Blyth Consulting Engineers Ltd  CSOH 54 - enforcement of adjudicator's award; breach of natural justice; compatibility with Convention rights
Link Housing Association Ltd v PBL Construction Ltd 2007 SC 294 – design and build contract; prescription and limitation.
Ballast plc v Laurieston Properties Ltd  CSOH 16 – management contract; guarantee; relevance of post-contract actings.
Scottish Equitable plc v Miller Construction Ltd 2002 SCLR 10 – arbitration; prescription and limitation; application to certificates under standard form of building contract.
Karl Construction Ltd v Palisade Properties plc (2002) 85 Con LR 59 – inhibition on the dependence; application of law on contingent debts to building contracts; whether law compatible with Convention rights.
Drake & Scull Engineering Ltd v NG Bailey Ltd, 2000 – whether communications prior to conclusion of building contract admissible.
Milnbank Housing Association v Page & Park, 2000 – prescription and limitation in relation to damages claim against architects and clerk of works.
Property Selection and Investment Trust Ltd v United Friendly Insurance plc 1999 SLT 975 – whether neighbouring proprietor liable for cost of removing rock anchors.
Baxter Clark & Paul v Tulloch Construction Group Ltd, 1999 – whether averments of novation adequate.
McTear v Imperial Tobacco Ltd 2005 2 SC – tobacco products; damages claim.
Contributor, Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia on the Laws of Scotland - "Building Contracts"
Contributor, Gloag & Henderson, The Law of Scotland, 11th edn
Contributor, Macfadyen, Court of Session Practice (2006)
"Insurable Interest: Time for a Change" 1989 SLT 103
"Crown Immunity from Legislative Obligations" 1990 Public Law 14
"Crown and Prerogative in Scots Law", in Finnie et al (eds), Edinburgh Essays in Public Law (1991)
"The Scope of Judicial Review in Scots Law" 1992 Public Law 625
"Contract and Recompense: ERDC Construction v HM Love" 1997 Edinburgh Law Review 46
"Enrichment by Improvements" in Johnston & Zimmermann, Unjustified Enrichment: Key Issues in Comparative Perspective (2002)
"The proposed Common European Sales Law: scope and choice of law" in Alpa et al (eds), The Common European Sales Law - the Lawyers' View (2012)
Chambers Bar Directory 2015 contains the following entries:-
"James Wolffe QC Commands great respect for his broad public law practice, and is especially well regarded for his representation in matters concerning legislative competence, local government and the criminal justice system. Indicative of his standing in the market, he was elected dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 2014.
Expertise: "He is extremely professional and thoughtful. He has the ear of the court and is prepared to push his client's position." "He's someone you're happy to have on your side, and you're dismayed if he's on the other."" [Administrative and Public Law, Band 1]
"James Wolffe QC Has an excellent reputation in commercial matters, earning particular praise for his skill in handling high-value construction disputes. He is hugely experienced, and has handled high-profile matters before the House of Lords and the Supreme Court.
Expertise: "You will struggle to find an advocate at the Scottish Bar who has a superior intellect." "He's an intellectual titan who provides sensible and pragmatic legal advice.""[Commercial Dispute Resolution, Band 1]
"James Wolffe QC Known as a standout QC in the market, as supported by his election as the dean of the Faculty of Advocates. He acts on a range of construction disputes of significant value, and also attracts praise for his work involving European issues.
Expertise: "He is one of the best commercial QCs in Scotland."" [Construction Law, Band 2]
Legal 500 Directory 2015 contains the following entries:-
"James Wolffe QC is ‘cerebral, but at ease in consultations with experts and clients’" [Civil Liberties, Human Rights, Public Inquiries and Public and Administrative Law]
‘A formidable advocate held in very high esteem by all.' [Commercial Litigation - Leading Silks]
Totally reliable and thorough, with a superb mind.' [Property, Construction and Agriculture - Leading Silks]
Chambers Bar Directory 2014 contains the following entries:-
"James Wolffe QC receives plaudits for his handling of both commercial and non-commercial public law cases. "He has great analytical ability". "He is very good to work with: knowledgeable; diligent; and clients like his approach." [Administrative and Public Law, Band 1]
"The Vice Dean of Faculty with significant experience in both administrative and public law and commercial disputes. "His presentation is clear, concise and very well respected by the judges: he always has an excellent grasp of the legal concepts and facts involved in the case." [Commercial Dispute Resolution, Band 2]
Chambers Bar Directory 2013 contains the following entries:-
"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." [Commercial Dispute Resolution, Band 3]
"James Wolffe QC is praised as "an exceptionally able and hard-working advocate, possessed of acute insight and very sound judgment". He acts for and against government at all levels." [Administrative and Public Law, Band 1]