STUC Union lawyers’ Thompsons Solicitors won recognition as Scotland’s top legal firm in the prestigious Law Awards of Scotland 2009, organised by The Firm legal magazine.
Thompsons won the Law Firm of the Year title, the top award in the profession’s ‘Oscars’, in the face of intense competition from other practices across Scotland.
The Law Firm of the Year Award recognise the wide scope and range of Thompsons’ services including the firm’s distinguished record of representing trade unions, fighting for members’ rights, campaigning on health and safety issues and tackling the legacy of industrial diseases like asbestos related cancers.
Frank Maguire, Thompsons senior partner said: “We are delighted to have won this award, particularly since our role as Scotland’s leading trade union lawyers was one of the reasons we were honoured.
“We are proud of our long and distinguished tradition of fighting alongside our friends in the union movement, and working with the STUC and its officials”.
But Mr Maguire warned that there are a number of reforms of the legal system including the recently published Gill Review which threaten ordinary union members’ access to justice.
Mr Maguire said: “There are various reviews of the Scottish legal system underway, some of which we believe threaten to undermine the principle that access to the law and the courts is a basic human right, and should not be dependent on the ability to pay.
“The threats include proposals to turn the Scottish Court of Session into an international centre for commercial dispute resolution, and/or allocating resources to a case in accordance with its value, importance and complexity as against cost.
“At the moment ordinary people who suffer injustice can reasonably expect to have their case heard in the Court of Session regardless of any consideration of the monetary value involved.
“But some of these moves would effectively deny ordinary people and trade union members the access to justice which is their right.”
Turning to the Law Firm of the Year award Mr Maguire said that over the last few years the changing industrial landscape and the consolidation of trade unions had forced Thompsons to develop their expertise in Personal Injury cases where they now win more than nine out of ten personal injury court cases, obtaining the maximum compensation in the shortest possible time.
Last year Thompsons recovered over £1m a week in compensation for its clients.
But Mr Maguire added: “I am particularly pleased that we have been able to continue to represent our colleagues in the trade union movement.
“This award recognised the fact that we continue to offer our union clients and their members new and enhanced services.”