James voted Dean of the Scottish Bar

Picture: James Wolffe. Greg Macvean
Picture: James Wolffe. Greg Macvean
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AN Edinburgh QC has been elected the new Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in a historic ballot.

James Wolffe saw off the challenge of fellow QCs, Gordon Jackson, Andrew Smith and Alan Summers, to become leader of the 466-strong practising Scottish Bar.

For the first time in the Faculty’s near 500-year history, the election was by online voting.

Mr Wolffe, 51, was born in Dumfries and educated at Gatehouse Primary School and Kirkcudbright Academy before graduating at Edinburgh University and Oxford University.

He was a solicitor in Edinburgh, a part-time lecturer at Edinburgh University and served as legal assistant to the Lord President of the Court of Session before joining the Faculty of Advocates in 1992.

He became a QC in 2007, and was a High Court prosecutor for three years, and has extensive experience in civil law. He has prepared cases for the European Court of Human Rights and has appeared before the House of Lords, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the UK Supreme Court.

He is head of the UK delegation to the Council of European Bars and Law Societies, and was last year elected Vice-Dean of Faculty.

Mr Wolffe said: “It is a great honour to be elected. The people of Scotland have been well served by the independent Bar. I look forward to leading the profession during the next chapter of its history.”

He succeeds Richard Keen, QC, to become the 20th Dean of Faculty since the Second World War.

Voting for the new Dean was open to around 700 practising and non-practising members of Faculty.

His interests are his family – he is married with two sons – but he also enjoys reading “anything from crime novels to Central European literature in translation” and playing the piano “not to any great standard but for my own amusement.”

The Chambers Bar Directory describes James Wolffe QC as “an exceptionally able and hard-working advocate, possessed of acute insight and very sound judgment”.

A ringing endorsement but his CV is even broader. He trained as a solicitor with Maclay Murray and Spens and spent a year as legal assistant to the Lord President in 1990-91, during Lord Hope’s tenure, before applying to the bar. He gained insight into the world of government as First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish ministers between 2002-7 and then spent three years prosecuting as advocate depute and senior advocate depute in the Crown Office from 2007-10.

He represented the Crown in the long-running fatal accident inquiry following the fire at the Rosepark care home in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, in January 2004.

He is a member of JUSTICE Scotland and is convenor of the faculty’s law reform committee.

He lives with his wife Sarah, also a QC who is about to be made a judge, in Edinburgh.