Professional information

  • 2019: Appointed Advocate member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland
  • 2016: Appointed silk
  • 2008 to 2016: Standing junior counsel to the Scottish Government
  • 2003: Called to the bar
  • 2002: Awarded Lord Reid scholarship
Professional experience

Morag’s work is predominantly in public and administrative law and in cases involving civil liberties and human rights. She also has a significant background in EU law and has strong experience in competition and public procurement cases. Her work encompasses those areas where there are intersections between commercial interests and public law. She is regularly instructed for national government and local authorities as well as a wide range of public authorities and regulatory bodies. She also acts for those seeking to bring challenges. Morag’s court experience covers the Scottish courts at all levels as well as the United Kingdom Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Notable cases

Public and administrative law

  • Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth and Medway Council, Petitioners 2021 SLT 1481. A series of petitions to the nobile officium relating to the placement in Scotland by local authorities in England and Wales of vulnerable children subject to deprivation of liberty orders. Guidance as to appropriate procedures.
  • Abundance Investment Ltd and another v Scottish Ministers 2020 SLT 163. Judicial review seeking to challenge a decision made under the specific terms of a contract. Proceedings raised by a non-contracting party were not competent. Important guidance on the scope of judicial review.
  • Perth and Kinross Council v Scottish Ministers [2020] CSOH 41. Judicial review of a decision by Scottish Ministers to call in a school closure proposal.
  • B v University of Aberdeen 2020 SLT 1124. Petition to nobile officium to obtain orders allowing a widow to use her late husband’s stored sperm for IVF treatment. Case concerned issues of consent and interpretation of statute and the deceased’s will.
  • SPUC Pro-life Ltd v Scottish Ministers 2019 SC 588. Judicial review of decision to allow early medical abortion at home.
  • Wightman v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union EU:C:2018:999 [2019] QB 199. Judicial review. Case which established that a Member State may unilaterally revoke a withdrawal notice under Article 50 TFEU.

Civil liberties and human rights

  • L v Principal Reporter 2021 SC 146. Judicial review of a decision by SCRA to refer a 17 year old to a children’s hearing on the basis that she was not a ‘child’ for the purposes of the applicable legislation. Competency of judicial review and statutory interpretation and Article 5 ECHR issues.
  • Steele, Petitioner 2021 SLT 863. Judicial review of a decision to institute misconduct proceedings against a police officer in relation to his use of Twitter. Article 10 ECHR and freedom of expression issues.
  • U v Local Authority Manager [2021] CSIH 65. Petition to the nobile officium following a decision in relation to children’s referral proof proceedings and related criminal proceedings. Competency of petition proceedings. Issues in relation to Articles 6 and 8 ECHR concerning the use of information in parallel proceedings.
  • In re Gallagher [2020] AC 185. Disclosure of criminal convictions and Article 8 ECHR. Written submissions for intervener providing Supreme Court with explanation of position in Scotland.
  • AB v HM Advocate 2017 SC (UKSC) 101. Statutory provisions relating to child sex offences and the availability of the ‘reasonable belief’ defence, and compatibility with Article 8 ECHR.
  • U v Glasgow City Council 2017 SLT 1109. Action for declarator of age. Age as an aspect of private life for purposes of Article 8 ECHR.
  • C v Gordonstoun Schools Ltd 2016 SC 758. Statutory appeal against a decision of the Additional Support Needs Tribunal. Disability discrimination in relation to ADHD and boarding school.

EU, competition and public procurement

  • Glasgow City Council v VFS Financial Services [2022] CSIH 1. Competition law. Actions for damages by local authorities against trucks manufacturers following decision of European Commission. Preliminary proof on prescription, followed by reclaiming motion.
  • LC Management Services (Scotland) Limited v Highlands and Islands Enterprise 2020 SLT 777. State aid law. Commercial action in which pursuers sought declarators in relation to threshold in General Block Exemption Regulation and damages.
  • Strident Publishing Limited v Creative Scotland [2020] CAT 11. Competition law. Claim brought in Competition Appeal Tribunal alleging abuse of a dominant position by public authority. The making of grants to publishers by a public sector arts funder exercising statutory powers was not an economic activity carried on by an undertaking within the meaning of the Competition Act 1998.
  • Angus Growers Ltd v Scottish Ministers 2016 SLT 529. Members of a producer organisation under the EU fresh fruit and vegetable scheme had a relevant claim for a breach of EU law by the Scottish Ministers arising from the withdrawal of recognition under the scheme and the breach was sufficiently serious for the purpose of Francovich damages.
Directories
  • Chambers UK Bar – Recommended as leading silk in Administrative and Public Law (Band 1); Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Band 1); Public Procurement (Band 1); and Professional Discipline (Band 2)
  • Legal 500 – Recommended as leading silk in Administrative and Pubic Law (Tier 2)

Quotes

She gives her clients an eloquent and persuasive voice in court – a first choice as a public law silk.‘ Legal 500 2022