Tom Lawrie


THOMAS Macpher­son Lawrie, who has died at the age of 84, was a lead­ing com­pany lawyer.

As a part­ner in the law firm Ma­clay Mur­ray & Spens he acted for many of Scot­land’s largest cor­po­ra­tions.

He played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the for­mu­la­tion of the na­ture of se­cu­rity to be taken over North Sea oil as­sets, no easy task given the un­cer­tainty as to the law (Scot­tish or English) that would ap­ply.

He ad­vised House of Fraser in its suc­cess­ful de­fence against the pro­tracted and un­wel­come at­tempts by Tiny Row­land’s Lon­rho to take over the com­pany, with the jewel in the crown be­ing its Har­rods store. His role in this saga gained the ad­mi­ra­tion of many City ex­perts.

For­mer col­leagues re­mem­ber the calm, un­hur­ried ap­proach and the an­a­lyt­i­cal skills he brought to bear on com­plex le­gal prob­lems.

He was for many years a mem­ber of the Com­pany Law com­mit­tee of the Law So­ci­ety of Scot­land, where his telling con­tri­bu­tions car­ried great weight with his peers.

For sev­eral years he rep­re­sented Scot­land at the bi-an­nual meet­ing of the Eu­ro­pean No­taries, and on one oc­ca­sion he hosted its meet­ing in Scot­land.

Out­side the law he held nonex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor­ships in Mid Wynd in­ter­na­tional In­vest­ments from 1985 to 2004 and in Edring­ton Group from his re­tire­ment to 2001. He was a trustee of the Robert­son Trust, the largest in­de­pen­dent grant-mak­ing trust in Scot­land, from 1990 to 2004.

A part­ner in Ma­clays for more than 30 years, he was its se­nior part­ner from 1990 un­til his re­tire­ment in 1996.

Born in Lon­don in 1934, he was ed­u­cated at Marl­bor­ough Col­lege, hav­ing won a schol­ar­ship there.

He was dis­ap­pointed when a bout of pneu­mo­nia left him un­fit for Na­tional Ser­vice but took the op­por­tu­nity to travel for a year work­ing in On­tario and then hitch-hik­ing across Amer­ica.

He at­tended King’s Col­lege, Cam­bridge, where he read Clas­sics and Law.

Af­ter his fa­ther’s un­timely death, he con­tin­ued his le­gal stud­ies, ob­tain­ing an LL.B at Ed­in­burgh Uni­ver­sity while train­ing as an ap­pren­tice with the Ed­in­burgh firm, Dun­das & Wil­son.

Hav­ing de­cided on a ca­reer as a com­pany lawyer, he then headed south to Lon­don to work as an as­sis­tant at the City law firm, Allen & Overy, be­fore re­turn­ing to Scot­land and Ma­clays in 1964.

He once de­scribed him­self as “an en­gi­neer hap­pily manque” and away from his busi­ness com­mit­ments his var­ied skills at home and in the gar­den (in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to, weav­ing and dry stone wall build­ing) showed what he might have achieved had he not fol­lowed the law.

The lat­ter years of his re­tire­ment saw the on­set of Parkin­son’sm which he faced with typ­i­cal for­ti­tude and hu­mour.

His first wife Susie Bur­nett, whom he mar­ried in 1963, died in 1993. He is sur­vived by their two daugh­ters, Joanna and Kay, and by his sec­ond wife Jill Pen­rose, whom he mar­ried in 1995.

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