Born: June 23, 1952;

Died: April 20, 2021

HERIOT Whitson Currie, who has died aged 68 after suffering a brain haemorrhage, was a distinguished and respected member of the Scottish legal profession and an outstanding Queen’s Counsel.

A commanding figure in court, he could pick out the salient points in an argument and then comprehensively deliver the highlights to the jury. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of case law and was a man of total integrity.

He was widely acknowledged as the major civil litigation lawyer of the last 40 years at the Scottish Bar, and was involved in many leading cases.

He was junior to Alan Johnston QC (later, Lord Johnston) in the Piper Alpha enquiry and the Piper Alpha Re-Insurance Litigation, and was involved in the Lockerbie enquiry and numerous other high-profile cases, as well as the then longest-running case in Scottish law: Santa Fe International versus Napier Shipping, in 2004 in Aberdeen.

In recent years he represented David Whitehouse in his fight to clear his name after serving as joint administrator of Rangers FC. In a powerful submission Currie told the court “At all stages the police case fails” and concluded persuasively: “If you deprive someone of his liberty unlawfully, that is a civil wrong.”

In 1990 he had been the advocate in another football-related case in which a former assistant manager at Dundee United claimed that he had been sacked and ordered out of the ground.

The Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Roddy Dunlop QC, paid a warm tribute to his former colleague, declaring: “Heriot was one of the titans of the Scottish bar in recent times and was universally respected as a brilliant advocate, as well as being one of the most amusing of colleagues. He will be sorely missed by the Faculty, the law in general and all are the poorer for his passing.”

Currie was much admired throughout the profession. He was a most diligent advocate for the cause he represented and delivered his arguments in a cogent and coherent manner.

Colleagues praised his courteous style in court. In his eulogy Lord Keen of Elie said: “Heriot was truly a lion of the Scottish Bar”, while Lord Woolman, a long-time colleague and friend, told The Herald, “Heriot was a truly formidable advocate in court but always a very fair opponent.”

Currie had qualified in Scotland and England and had been a member of the Scottish bar since 1979, being called to the English Bar (Gray’s Inn) in 1991; he took silk, being made a QC in Scotland in 1991.

Heriot Whitson Currie was the son of Heriot and Evelyn Currie and attended Edinburgh Academy where, in 1971, he was presented with the Dux’s Gold Medal by the Rev. Dr Selby Wright.

He also received several other academic awards and played a prominent part in the Dramatic Society (appearing notably in The Winter’s Tale and Troilus and Cressida) and became a member of the school’s debating team.

He won a scholarship to read classics at Wadham College, Oxford. He then read law at Edinburgh University and served a bar apprenticeship at Simpson and Marwick.

Currie’s career in the law began at the Scottish Bar in 1979 when he acted as Standing Junior in Scotland to the Department of Trade and Industry between 1987 and 1992. In 2005 he became a member of Monckton Chambers at the English Bar.

He also served as chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Rory Anderson QC told The Herald that Currie was well versed in all the legal aspects of a case and preserved an impressive presence in court: he got up and addressed the jury with the facts succinctly and lucidly, then sat down. He scrupulously marshalled his argument. “Personally, and away from court”, Anderson added, “Heriot was always very good company. He was engaging and enormous fun to be with – he was a very rounded individual.”

In 2007, along with other distinguished members of the Scottish bar – including Richard Keen, Paul Cullen and David Johnston – Currie founded Axiom Advocates, a firm which offered a specialised and detailed service in commercial and public law.

Currie maintained an active life away from his professional duties. He was a keen golfer and a stalwart of the Bar and Bench Golfing Society, and a member for many years of both Royal Burgess Golfing Society and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, at Muirfield.

He was a lover of music with a wide and catholic taste ranging from opera to jazz.

A particular passion of his was chamber music; the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh was mentioned as one of his beneficiaries. He often attended concerts there – especially the morning chamber concerts during the Edinburgh Festival.

He was a strong supporter of New Town Concerts that were performed in the Hall. In addition, he was also a considerable linguist and an enthusiastic gardener.

His first marriage to Carolyn was dissolved and in 2003 he married Paula Christian. She survives him along with the children from his first marriage – Chloe, Ursula and Ismay – and two grandchildren, as well as his mother, Evelyn, or Eva.