Stephen O’Rourke QC (Scotland)

Call: 2002 | Silk: 2017

"Proactive & Impressive in Court"
Legal 500, 2018
"Stalwart & Fearless"
Legal 500, 2018
"a first-rate reputation in high value cases"
Legal 500, 2016
"a very thorough advocate"
Legal 500, 2017
"recommended for public inquiries"
Legal 500, 2017

Stephen O’Rourke QC FCIArb specialises in public and commercial litigation, property law, professional negligence, inquiries and regulatory matters. He is dual qualified and practices at the English Bar through Field Court Chambers, London. He is an arbitrator and a mediator.

Legal 500 (2020) rates Stephen as a tier 1 leading silk for commercial litigation (‘maintains a cool head under pressure and is extremely diligent’) and a tier 2 leading silk for civil liberties, human rights, public inquiries and public and administrative law (‘a good communicator and a confident advocate’). He was similarly ranked in 2019 and described as ‘practive and impressive in court’ and ‘stalwart and fearless’. Previous ratings note he is ‘recommended for public inquiries’ and ‘a very thorough advocate’ with ‘a first rate reputation in high value cases.’

Stephen is well established at the senior bar with a wealth of experience acting for government, commercial clients, private clients, local authorities, charities and trusts. He has a depth of experience across a range of challenging cases. He is regularly instructed in the Inner and Outer Houses of the Court of Session, Sheriff Courts (Appeal and First Instance), the Lands Valuation Appeal Court, the Land Court, Lands Tribunal and other Tribunals.

Stephen is an accredited Mediator and has successfully mediated a number of sensitive and high value matters including in 2020 the future development of Edinburgh’s new concert hall.

Stephen is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and is regularly appointed as an arbitrator in domestic arbitrations dealing mainly with property matters.


  • Presenting Officer, Judicial Fitness Tribunal
  • Trustee, Scottish Council of Law Reporting
  • Legal Chair, Parole Board for Scotland
  • Scottish Sentencing Council (2015-19)
  • Standing Junior Counsel to the Advocate General for Scotland (2013-17)
  • Advocate Depute (High Court prosecutor) 2010-13


Recent Cases

Court of Session:

  • Cowan v Lanarkshire Housing Association [2020] CSIH 26
  • Centric Community Projects Ltd v Aberdeen City Council 2019 SLT 1318 (successful judicial review in relation to charity business rates relief)
  • Adamczak-Gawrychowska v Common Services Agency 2018 SLT 415 (judicial review of scheme for dental remuneration)
  • Grampian Assessor v CDS (Superstores International Ltd) [2018] CSIH 13

All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court:

AR v Coxen 2018 SLT (Sh Ct) 335 (8 day proof)

High Court of Justiciary:

  • Adam v HMA [2020] HCJAC 5 (Moorov doctrine)
  • Green & others v HMA 2019 SCCR 54 (murder, antecedent concert)
  • Redpath v HMA 2019 SCCR 266 (corroboration and images)
  • Hunter v PF Kilmarnock (dangerous dogs)
  • Laurie v HMA (murder, sentence appeal)
  • Miller v HMA (human trafficking)

Supreme Court:

Lands Tribunal for Scotland:

  • Council for Music in Hospitals v Trustees of R. Gerald Assoc. 2008 SLT (Lands Tr) 17
  • Graham v Lee [2008/41]


Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons: in re Bretman, 21 May 2019