Although often to be found in the Court of Session, sheriff court or House of Lords, he was equally at home clambering aboard an oil tanker in the North Sea gathering evidence, in an engineering workshop in Rotterdam getting to the heart of a patent case, discussing Scots law at an international conference or tending his magnificent fruit and vegetable garden at his home near Biggar.

His shrewd counsel was most clearly evident, however, when explaining the implications of a case to clients across the world. Spotting the essentials of the most complex commercial dispute is a rare gift, and one that was on display throughout his stint as a partner of Maclay Murray & Spens from 1961 until 1996. Indeed, his gift for incisive analysis was visited upon the unprepared when, after retiring from private practice, he brought his intellect to the role of a floating sheriff.

His reputation rested on an ability to spot the route to a satisfactory solution. Many of the advocates he instructed were apt to mistake him for a frustrated practitioner at the bar so fully considered were the instructions he would prepare. But this would be to miss his most formidable talent. For him, the fascination was in assimilating the facts, understanding the origin of a dispute, using the law with creativity and applying his instinct to identifying a resolution. The courts were, of course, among his weapons, but to be used only sparingly.

He was born in Bridge­water, Somerset, but his family background was with the Glasgow shipbuilder, A&J Inglis. After schooling at Shrewsbury House, Surrey, and Wellington College, he studied law at Queen’s College, Oxford. Family history has it that his legal knowledge must have been acquired by study during the vacations at the family home – by this time in Ayr. Term time was devoted to rowing and other activities. The overnight relocation of a bus stop is one tale. The reasons for this are lost but the names of co-conspirators require to be withheld to protect otherwise distinguished reputations.

He was selected to row for Scotland at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Wales in 1958. A fellow crew member made the introduction that led to his marriage to Rosemary in 1961. Their first home was near Biggar. Within weeks they had begun the relentless pursuit of what was to become their family home, Cambus­wallace. Fatherhood followed, with Arabella, Lucy, Jake and Willy enjoying an upbringing at the house which, together with the shooting and fishing that was to hand, remained at the heart of Mr Inglis’s life.

His early years at Maclay Murray & Spens coincided with the heyday of commercial litigation in Glasgow Sheriff Court with much activity arising from the still thriving shipbuilding and heavy engineering industries in the west of Scotland. In 1971, he was instrumental in establishing the Edinburgh office – a revolutionary move at that time for a Glasgow firm, even one of such prominence. His focus shifted to more international work, intellectual property litigation and maritime law.

The exploitation of North Sea oil resulted in many of his most notable cases: the lar­gest patent case the Scottish Courts have handled; the first serious challenge to the marine pollution provisions in Shetland; and the leading case even now on the arrest of ships in Scotland.

He brought a determined, but down to earth approach to all he did. When one advocate proposed to refuse instructions unless a helicopter was provided to collect and return him to his holiday home, the gauntlet was picked up and a small helicopter was despatched. When the collapse of a giant crane at Arder­sier necessitated a consultation with clients and counsel over a weekend, a Biggar Sunday lunch was conjured up by Rosemary in the office kitchen.

His standing in the profession resulted in his appointment as the sole solicitor on the Phillimore Committee on Contempt of Court, which led to the Contempt of Court Act 1981. He was invited by Lloyds of London to contribute the Scots law section of its international compendium on ship arrestments throughout the world.

His contribution to the firm was no less singular. His tendency to derail recruitment interviews with accounts of his Biggar murder case was the stuff of office folklore. In truth, this was less a reference to a hitherto unknown Maclay Murray & Spens parallel to Rumpole’s Penge Bungalow Murder and more an indication of the support that colleagues, friends and neighbours could rely upon in times of difficulty.

His pipe was an integral part of his thinking process. His support for the firm’s pioneering move in 1988 to restrict smoking to a dedicated room took the form of a decision to designate his own room as another legitimate refuge for him and his pipe. Problems arose, however, when the firm moved to new offices in Glenfinlas Street. By 1990, smoke detectors had become compulsory.

The triggering of the fire alarms, and the arrival of the fire brigade around 5pm on the first Friday after the move, was greeted by an only slightly sheepish wave of the battered trilby as he headed for the car park.

Born July 21, 1934;

Died October 7, 2009.