In light of the coronavirus pandemic the SPLG was unfortunately unable to host an in-person conference in 2020. However, we have endeavoured to adapt and have produced what we hope is an adequate substitute to fulfil your public law needs until we can next gather in person.

We’ve arranged for a series of expert speakers to prepare webinars, which are linked below and grouped thematically.

The first conference “session” that is being released is a look at the exciting developments in human rights incorporation taking place in Scotland. The second “session” provides an update of key Scots public law cases and cases from the rest of the UK over the last year, along with discussion on the Independent Review of Administrative Law. The third “session” is an EU Law Update, looking at key case law developments as well providing an overview of the new legal framework on EU derived domestic law that we will all need to get to grips with.

We’re beyond grateful for our speakers taking the time to prepare and deliver the webinars and to Ewan Stewart of Prickly Thistle Video in helping produce the videos.

We’d love to hear your feedback on the webinars or ideas for future webinars or events. Please contact

Human Rights Incorporation

In a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic it can be easy to gloss over the Scottish Government’s introduction of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in September 2020. The Bill seeks to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law and highlights a number of fascinating public law issues – from the need for public authorities (and public lawyers) to understand the requirements of the UNCRC; the challenges and methods of incorporating the UN human rights treaties into domestic law to considerations of the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament; and the question of whether the Parliament can bind itself.

The following talks explore the issues and opportunities presented by the incorporation of the UNCRC and other international human rights instruments.

The human rights session consists of around 2 hours of learning.

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, with Coll McCail and Maria McGoldrick, Young Advisors with the Commissioner’s office

Bruce Adamson is the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland. In this presentation he is joined by two of his young advisors to discuss what they describe as “the huge opportunity we have in Scotland through the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Bruce examines the Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament to bring the Convention into domestic law and what might be done to strengthen it as well as considering what it might mean in practice.


Professor Aileen McHarg, Professor of Public Law and Human Rights at Durham University

Professor Aileen McHarg examines the questions around legislative competence highlighted by the UNCRC Bill, with a focus on the question of whether the Scottish Parliament can bind itself and its successors.


Dr Kasey McCall-Smith, Senior Lecturer in Public International Law at the University of Edinburgh

Dr Kasey McCall-Smith discusses the incorporation of the UN Human Rights Treaties into the domestic law of the UK and Scotland, with a particular focus on the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights’ recommendations and the work of the National Taskforce for Human Rights.


Professor Gráinne McKeever, Professor of Law and Social Justice at Ulster University

Professor McKeever discusses how the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 has embedded the principles of dignity and respect into the Scottish social security system. She begins by considering how these principles can be defined, before moving on to consider how they are being put into operation and protected, with a focus on oversight, scrutiny, and review.


Public Law Updates

With many finding that 2020 passed in a blur, we asked two well-informed practitioners to bring us a summary of some of the notable public law cases within the UK from 2020.  Recorded toward the end of 2020, Morag Ross QC talks us through some key developments from 2020 in Scots public law cases; and Stephen Donnelly discusses some leading public law cases from the rest of the UK.  We also have some reflections from Dr Joe Tomlinson on the UK Government’s Independent Review of Administrative Law, considering the composition of the review panel, its terms of reference, the work of the review and asking whether a review of this type is the best way to ‘do’ judicial review reform.

The talks consist of around 1.5 hours of learning.

Scots Public Law Update

Morag Ross QC called to the bar in 2003 and took silk in 2016. Her practice is predominantly in public law, including human rights and civil liberties, and she has a wide range of experience in judicial review. In this video, Morag discusses key public law and human rights cases of 2020 from Scotland.

Rest of UK Public Law Update

Stephen Donnelly practises in public and commercial law as an advocate in Scotland, from Arnot Manderson Stable, and as a barrister in England and Wales, from Essex Court Chambers. In this video, Stephen discusses key public law and human rights cases of 2020 from elsewhere in the UK. Specifically, Stephen will look at judicial review related to coronavirus measures as well as deprivation of liberty and social security.

Independent Review of Administrative Law

In this talk Joe Tomlinson and Lewis Graham look at the establishment by the UK Government of an Independent Review of Administrative Law. They consider the composition of the review panel and its terms of reference, the work of the review, including what they see to be flaws in the process, and ask whether a review of this type is the best way to ‘do’ judicial review reform.


EU Law Updates

As ever, the implications of Brexit continue to dominate, and EU law continues to have relevance for Scots lawyers.

In an update spread over two parts, Gerry Facenna QC first outlines recent key case EU case law, with a focus on employment law and data protection. The cases that Gerry discusses are: C-629/19 B v. Yodel Delivery Network Ltd (2019); C-507/18 Associazione Avvocatura per i diritti LGBTI (2020); C-311/18 Schrems II (2020); C-623/17 Privacy International and C-511/18 Quadrature du Net (2020).

In Part 2, Gerry provides an overview of the new legal framework under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018; the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 and the European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020. This essential update illuminates the role that EU derived law will continue to play in Scots law.

Part 1

Part 2