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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice

The Scottish Law Commission (SLC) has proposed changes to defamation law to account for internet and social media growth, following a three-year study.

The SLC published a draft bill for MSPs to consider after completing its study investigating legislation that has not been updated for more than two decades. According to the SLC, the proposed reform to defamation law is the most substantial in Scottish legal history.

Among its 49 recommendations, the SLC states that it should no longer be possible to sue where a defamatory statement is made only to the person who is the subject of it and no one else. Where a statement has not caused serious harm to reputation there should be no right to sue.

The SLC also suggested ending the current three-year timescale to bring a defamation action, which is considered to be too long.

A government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is grateful for the work by the Scottish Law Commission in examining defamation law. We welcome the publication of the report and will now carefully consider the recommendations made.”   

Other market developments include the continued significance of film production in Scotland, which, incentivised by a Production Growth Fund, has generated GBP 17.5 million for the economy.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the allocation of GBP 250 thousand to the fund, which she says has “strengthened Scotland’s reputation as a base for big budget productions”.

Speaking of sector growth, Natalie Usher, Director of Screen at Creative Scotland said: "The Production Growth Fund has proved to be a significant factor in the increase in Film and TV production in Scotland in recent years.”

She continued: “Alongside continued support through the National Lottery and the amazing work of our Screen Commission and locations network, the announcement today of an additional GBP 250 thousand shows strong commitment from the Scottish Government and is another welcome boost to the screen sector.”


Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co specialises in media law and intellectual property. The firm has a particular emphasis on defamation and is known for its in-depth pre and post publication advice. Lawyers represent clients including Associated Newspapers, The Scotsman Publications and Scottish & Universal Newspapers. The practice is also appointed by political figures.

Brodies is regularly instructed by publishers for pre-publication advice and pre-broadcast content review. With a client base that includes BBC Scotland and Channel 4, the firm’s core competence areas include defamation, contempt, privacy and data protection. Lawyers also work with clients from the video games and new media sectors.

Levy & McRae has established a leading media law department that is the firm’s strongest area of business. The boutique firm is a litigation-only practice known for its expertise in defamation law, commercial litigation and regulatory issues. With two decades of experience, the firm has represented some of the largest print publishers and broadcast networks.

TIER 2  

Burness Paulls media emphasis is driven by intellectual property litigators with particular expertise in sports-related matters. The team, led by Colin Hulme and David Goodbrand, advises clients including Scottish Football Association, the Scottish Rugby Union and Celtic FC. Lawyers also work on outsourcing and overseas data transfer, data sharing, use of personal data online and data breach management.  

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang assists broadcasters, publishers and gambling operators with matters ranging from defamation, advertising and marketing. The firm has offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow and provides broader sector advice on copyright, data protection and privacy.

DLA Piper focusses on several segments including film, audio-visual privacy, digital media and games. With cross-practice and cross-border experience, lawyers assist with production and rights acquisitions, staging and exploiting live sports events and advise on competition law.

Pinsent Masons lawyers advise on film and television investments, the procurement of new programmes, acquisition of broadcasting rights and multi-platform works including online games. Managed by Yvonne Dunn, the TMT group advises Creative Scotland on a range of matters which include developing the potential of film makers in Scotland.


Shepherd and Wedderburn acts for global TMT organisations, regulators and industry associations. The team advises on regulatory issues related to market entry, product launch assessments and is routinely involved in matters connected with cloud computing, data protection and data retention.

Thorntons Solicitors focuses on publishing, social media, television and music sectors. Clients include individual music artists and international corporations. Lawyers advise on advertising, marketing and convergence between traditional media and online. In highlighted work the team advised on the acquisition of online streaming rights of funded television content and sponsored television programmes


Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co   


Levy & McRae


Burness Paull

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang

DLA Piper

Mellicks Solicitors

Pinsent Masons


Addleshaw Goddard

Harper Macleod  

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Thorntons Solicitors


Anderson Strathern  

BTO Solicitors





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