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Michael Upton - The Times article

Scottish lawyer of the week: Michael Upton, who acted to uphold creel fishermen’s environmental proposals Linda Tsang Thursday January 28 2021, 12.01am, The Times Michael Upton at Themis Advocates acted for the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation in a Court of Session judicial review. The court ruled that the Scottish ministers’ rejection of a proposed fisheries pilot off the Isle of Skye depended on irrelevant considerations, breached legitimate expectations and was unreasonable.


What were the main issues in this case?


The ministers invited proposals to protect areas of inshore waters by banning trawling and allowing only creeling. But despite its potentially crucial environmental benefits, they rejected our clients’ proposal because of “opposition”. The question was whether that was a good enough reason.


What is the best decision you have taken as a lawyer?


Invited by the Inner House of the Court of Session to begin to reply just before lunch, I decided to finish in ten minutes. Short is sweet.


What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in the law?


The farming client who paid me by letting me stay a week — to help with the lambing.


Who has inspired you in your career?


The ever cheerful advocate-turned-writer Robert Louis Stevenson: “Before those who loved him, his memory shines like a reproach; they honour him for silent lessons; they cherish his example; and, in what remains before them of their toil, fear to be unworthy of the dead.”


What is the best advice you’ve received?


My father’s: to leave practice for a year to study EU law in Tuscany. And a colleague’s: “Leave the jokes to the judge.”


Which three qualities should a lawyer have?


Awareness that there are two sides to every tale; having confidence that one of them is wrong — and the ability to leave the judge with the impression of having proved which was which.


What law would you enact?


One to foster common sense by repealing half the laws on the statute book.


How would you like to be remembered?


Counsel should be unfailingly civil to each other; that was passed on to us and it would be good to be remembered for passing it on. And for planting three small woods of native broadleaf trees at our blackhouse on the Isle of Muck.