Duncan Hamilton KC

Year of Call
Year of Silk
Devil Masters
Robert Milligan KC
Roddy Dunlop KC
Mathew Jackson KC


duncanhamilton@amadvocates.co.uk 0131 260 5824 (Practice Manager)

Practice Profile

Duncan is one of Scotland’s leading Silks in the area of defamation, contempt, privacy, data protection and media law. He is top ranked by Chambers and the Legal 500 in media law. The Legal 500 also has Duncan as a Band 1 Silk in Public and Administrative Law. The Legal 500 shortlisted Duncan as ‘Scottish Silk of the Year’ for 2023.

Duncan has an extensive Inquiry practice, most recently in the high-profile public inquiries into the death of Sheku Bayoh, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and the Scottish Covid Inquiry. He also acts regularly in major FAI’s, including the recent ‘M9 FAI’ into the deaths of two members of the public.

He has an additional specialism in high value personal injury actions and clinical negligence, having acted in all types of such cases for both pursuers and defenders over nearly 20 years. He also maintains a commercial practice.

In media law, Duncan has acted for the BBC and other leading media outlets since 2007 including in the Supreme Court. He also regularly acts for private individuals and has extensive experience of defamation proceedings, privacy actions, interdict proceedings and challenges to reporting restrictions.

In public law, Duncan has acted both for and against public bodies. He successfully represented Alex Salmond in the former First Minister’s successful judicial review of the Scottish Ministers. Equally, Duncan acted on behalf of the Scottish Government from 2013 to 2021 as Standing Junior Counsel. He regularly appeared in judicial review and personal injury cases for the Scottish Ministers, including for Transport Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service and the Forestry Commission.

Duncan was appointed to the position of Part-Time Sheriff in 2022 with an All-Scotland jurisdiction. He serves as a member of the Shrieval Panel of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland. He was appointed ad hoc Advocate Depute in 2018. Duncan was previously a Member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999-2003.

Education & Professional Career to Date

Bar Traineeship, Simpson & Marwick
Part-time Special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland (2007–08)
Member of the Scottish Parliament ('MSP'), serving on six Parliamentary Committees including the Justice Committee (1999–2003)

MA (Hons); LLB; Diploma in Legal Practice; Kennedy Scholarship to study at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard


  • Part-Time Sheriff (2022–present)
  • Ad Hoc Advocate Depute (2018–present)
  • Standing Junior to the Scottish Government (2013–2021)
  • Member of the Shrieval Panel of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland (2018–present)

Selected Cases

Publications & Seminars

Seminar- The Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Act 2021 delivered to the Central Legal Office in February 2023

Media Law, Freedom of Expression and the challenges of Social Media, delivered to John Smith Trust in 2017

Scots Law for Journalists, Rosalind McInnes (Ed.), contributor to 8th edition

‘Can the Union Survive?’, Royal Society of Edinburgh seminar, 2012

‘The Rule of Law, Democracy, Media and Constitutional Change’ – 2012

Seminar, Glasgow University School of Law 2011

‘The legal implications of the future expansion of the powers of the Scottish Parliament’, Scottish Public Law Group Annual Conference 2010


Duncan was shortlisted by the Legal 500 as ‘Silk of the Year’ in Scotland for 2023.

The Legal 500 give Duncan a Band 1 ranking noting the following

‘Duncan has the ultimate advocacy skill: the ability to persuade. He does this by an ability to tailor his approach to the individual judge or sheriff. He knows when to push and when to give ground, in a graceful way which notably lacks either blandishment or personal ego.’

He is also ranked as a Band 1 Silk by Chambers and Partners UK Bar. He has maintained that Band 1 ranking as Counsel for 12 years.

"He is excellent at building a rapport with clients during consultations, which puts them at ease and assists in preparing the case.”

"His knowledge of the law is excellent and he presents very well in court"

"He is brilliant and so enthusiastic about the work, as well as being an engaging and persuasive advocate."

In Public and Administrative Law, Chambers and Partners (2024) note

“Duncan Hamilton KC is well viewed for his work in judicial reviews, particularly those crossing over with media law. He is particularly well known for having represented Alex Salmond in his challenge to the Scottish Government’s investigation into allegations of misconduct.’

Recommended in the Legal 500 UK Bar Guide:

• 2021 Silk for Commercial Disputes

‘An excellent advocate who solicitors go back to time and time again for media law. He is reliable and thorough, and can be relied upon to fight in court when that is required.’

Nominated by the Legal 500 for Scottish Junior Counsel of the year 2020.
Recommended in The Legal 500 UK Bar Guide since 2016

"He is always willing to go the extra mile in cases."

Quotes from previous editions of Chambers and Partners:

"He has a media savvy other advocates struggle to match, and has a real gravitas in court"

"He has a good knowledge of the issues and he knows exactly when to argue and when not to."

"An excellent junior, one of the few at the Scottish Bar to have a good deal of media law experience."

"He is brilliant and so enthusiastic about the work, as well as being an engaging and persuasive advocate."