Pharma & Life Sciences

Specialist legal expertise to help you maximise the potential of technology across pharmaceuticals, healthcare and biotech.

Shepherd and Wedderburn is the largest Scottish-headquartered UK law firm, providing cutting-edge life sciences advice to clients. We are ideally placed to advise clients in the UK and internationally through our own network of offices and as a founder member of World Services Group – a global network of 130 member firms operating across 145 jurisdictions. 

Our life sciences team comprises top-ranked intellectual property, technology, corporate, employment and immigration specialists, all with broad experience advising clients across the sector.

We act for clients ranging from publicly listed, blue chip and large corporates to start-ups, spin-outs and small to medium-sized enterprises operating across the life sciences, pharma and medtech sectors. We also regularly advise international clients investing in the UK, and clients closer to home when transacting abroad.

We pride ourselves on building long-standing relationships of trust and our commitment to quality is at the heart of everything we do.

We advise our life sciences clients on a wide range of business critical matters including:

Mergers and acquisitions
  • Purchase and sale of companies or their assets (including in licensing)
  • Private equity-backed transactions including MBOs and MBIs
  • Capital markets transactions, including initial public offerings (IPOs)
  • Cross-border merger activity
Fundraising and financing
  • Formation activities, including shareholder and founder arrangements
  • IPOs and subsequent capital markets fundraising
  • Debts funding
  • Private equity-backed transactions, including growth/development capital investments
Collaborations and joint ventures
  • Advising on structuring and implementation documentation
  • Due diligence
  • Funding
  • Shareholders’ agreements
Protection of intellectual property
  • Intellectual property strategy from early stage research and development through to licensing and defence
  • Prosecution of trade marks and trade mark portfolio management
  • Advising on infringement of intellectual property
Distribution and agency agreements
  • From both supplier and customer perspectives
Research and Development, clinical trial agreements and technology transfers
  • Technology procurement and outsourcing
  • Intellectual property transfers and licences
  • Clinical trial agreements
  • Master services agreements
  • Commercialisation agreements
Employment and incentivisation arrangements
  • Protection of confidential information through tailored restricted covenants
  • Transactional support in sales, acquisitions and restructures
  • 'One-stop shop’ for international businesses employing in multiple jurisdictions
  • Employment essentials for start-ups (contracts, policies and HR support) 
  • Bespoke employee incentivisation schemes
Specialist immigration advice
  • Support for employers in obtaining licences from the Home Office to sponsor international workers
  • Supporting employers in complying with Home Office Rules, duties and regulations
  • Helping with visa applications for key international workers
  • Supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups obtain the necessary visas and permissions to undertake activity in the UK
  • Providing advice and support in respect of EU workers impacted by Brexit
Competition and regulatory advice
  • Advising on competition law aspects of commercial and research agreements
  • State aid and public sector support
  • IP and competition law
  • EU Commission and UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigations into breaches of competition law in the context of generic pharmaceuticals
  • Wider regulatory matters, such as regulation of medical devices and pharmaceutical products under UK and EU law
Using and exploiting data
  • Data protection/EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, including in relation to clinical trials
  • Requirements relating to data collection
  • Data sharing and big data access/exploitation in regulated industries
  • International data transfers
  • Responding to data breaches
  • Acting as EU Representative under GDPR

Aircraft Medical Limited

Advising on Aircraft Medical Limited's $110 million sale to Covidien Group S.a.r.l.

Kyowa Kirin International

Advising on international GDPR obligations and employment matters.


Advised on software development and sales and distribution agreements for its high resolution digital colposcope.

TauRx Therapeutics

Advising on queries arising out of clinical trials and on data protection and regulation.

Nexus Oncology Ltd

Acted for the shareholders of Nexus Oncology in connection with the sale to Ockham Development Group (Holdings) UK Limited.

TMC Pharma Services

Acted for TMC Pharma in developing its agreements with international clients to provide regulatory and clinical trial services.

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

Advised on the spin-out of Alba Bioscience, a major bio-manufacturing organisation, including advice on identification of required IP and cell lines, technology transfer and supply agreements.

University of Aberdeen

Advised on all aspects of the university’s collaboration agreement with the Institute of Life Sciences (Sri Lanka). We also advised on the transfer of patents in relation to shark antibodies to its existing licensee.

Collagen Solutions plc

Advising on the acquisition of the assets of Orthomimetics Limited and on fundraisings, development and supply agreements.


Advising on its corporate financing, protection of intellectual property and technology and immigration queries.

Scotland in 2050: Realising Our Global Potential

Download the Final Report