Aidan O'Neill QC and solicitor Elaine Motion of Balfour + Manson, who acted in the litigation that culminated in the Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson's five week prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, were among the winners in the 2019 Law Awards of Scotland last night.
Mr O'Neill was named Silk of the Year for the third year running, while Ms Motion received the Outstanding Contribution Award. The pair also acted in the case which resulted in the EU Court of Justice ruling a year ago that the United Kingdom can decide to revoke its article 50 notice to leave the European Union.
Also successful in individual awards last night were Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, Solicitor of the Year as the law centre marks its 25th anniversary – Iain Smith of Keegan Smith, Livingston received a commendation; Wendy Hay, advocate as Advocate of the year; Amanda Jones, who has the global role of Women's Advancement Director at Dentons, as Manager of the Year; and Emma Boffey of CMS as Junior Solicitor of the Year (Fraz Ahmed of Jones Whyte was commended).
Law Firm of the Year went to another international practice, CMS, while Anderson Strathern was named Law Firm of the Year – Scottish Independents, and Latta & Co became High Street Firm of the Year.
Practice area awards for team of the year went to Gillespie Macandrew (Private Client), Shoosmiths (Debt Recovery – a fourth consecutive success), Harper Macleod (Real Estate), Balfour + Manson (Litigation), Anderson Strathern (Employment), and Shepherd & Wedderburn (Transactions). In-house Team of the Year was Virgin Money UK plc.
Shepherd & Wedderburn was also successful in the Innovation Award category, with Neilsons Solicitors & Estate Agents receiving a commendation, while RBS Legal Edinburgh won the CSR Award, ahead of Innes & Mackay of Inverness (commended); and Clan Childlaw took the Pro Bono Award.
The Judges' Award recognised Glasgow Social Justice Lawyers, the collective involving Latta & Co, Just Right Scotland, Govan Law Centre, Legal Services Agency and Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service which supported the asylum seekers facing eviction by housing provider Serco.
Ms Motion commented: "I am greatly honoured to receive this award from the Scottish legal community. Working on these two huge constitutional cases, alongside so many dedicated, talented and committed people, was a great honour and privilege.
"I believed sincerely in what we were doing in both cases. Those two moments – when the European Court decision was confirmed and when Lady Hale read out the memorable and unanimous Supreme Court judgement – were extremely emotional and will stay with me forever."