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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice

Scotland prepares to ‘simplify and modernise’ its defamation laws, and is strengthening its creative industry as VOD viewing figures increase.

The government published its draft legislation in December 2019. A definition of what constitutes a defamatory statement will be set out in Scots law for the first time.

The Defamation and Malicious Publication Bill is intended to ensure balance between protecting reputation and freedom of expression.

Community Safety Minister Ash Denham commented: “The widespread use of social media today means there is the increased potential for unfair damage to reputation.

“Defamation law can also potentially impact a far greater number of people than a generation ago.”

In other developments over the past year, Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, set out her vision for the creative industries in a policy statement published in October 2019.

Priorities for growing the sector include attracting international talent as well as developing business support and creative networks.

In September 2019, Scotland’s ‘most popular’ commercial on demand platform confirmed an increase of 36 per cent in the first half of the year.

The broadcaster, STV Players, secured additional content partners as part of measures to improve viewing experience.  


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.

Mellicks Solicitors media law is a market leader in the field. The firm has over three decades of experience acting for some of the largest print and online publications in the country. Lawyers offer pre and post publication advice to those clients on all matters which may arise including contempt of court, defamation, privacy, data protection, copyright and regulatory compliance. Lawyers also represent private clients in defamation and privacy claims and provide advice on reputation management issues, including complaints to IPSO.

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.

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.


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.


Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co   


Levy & McRae

Mellicks Solicitors


Burness Paull

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang

DLA Piper

Pinsent Masons

Thorntons Solicitors


Addleshaw Goddard

Harper Macleod  

Shepherd and Wedderburn


Anderson Strathern  

BTO Solicitors





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