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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Northern Ireland > Dispute resolution > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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A&L Goodbody ’s litigation team is noted for construction, real estate, professional negligence and procurement disputes, and has seen an uptick in financial litigation, product liability cases and judicial reviews. The group acts for a broad spectrum of clients, including banks, governmental bodies, developers, housing associations and insurance companies. Practice head Brendan Fox is leading the team advising the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on the termination of five multimillion-pound lot contracts following a breach of contract by a professional consultant. In a standout mandate, Micaela Diver (‘personable, expert, engaging and empathic’) represented the Renewable Heat Association Northern Ireland in a judicial review of the decision of the Minister and the Department for the Economy to release the names of the participants in the highly publicised RHI Scheme into the public domain; the review was successful and the decision was reversed. Diver is acting for the same client in a judicial review of the decision of the Department for the Economy to implement the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017. Barbara Creed is a key name for commercial and corporate litigation.

The disputes team at Arthur Cox Belfast  handles a wide spectrum of cases, with particular strength in banking, insolvency, professional negligence and construction disputes. Managing partner Catriona Gibson (‘strategic in her thinking and measured in her approach’) leads the practice; she is leading the team representing Ulster Bank in proceedings brought against property developers Michael and John Taggart; the case will be reviewed by the Bankruptcy Master in late 2018. Professional indemnity expert Chris Ritchie defended Hiscox Insurance against a claim of alleged dishonesty and breach of duty; the claim was withdrawn. Matthew Howse is a key name for banking and insolvency disputes.

Carson McDowell ’s disputes practice provides ‘an excellent level of service’, as well as ‘straightforward advice’ relating to construction, insurance, media, energy and administrative disputes, among others. Highlights for 2017 included the ‘determined litigatorDeclan Magee defending the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland in a judicial review made by a life sentence prisoner challenging the decision not to release him from custody; the defence was successful. Other clients include Belfast International Airport, the National Trust and Translink. McGee leads the practice with Roger McMillan , who is well known for his expertise in healthcare matters. The ‘knowledgeableHugh McGrattan acts for insurers and is a key name for professional negligence cases.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin ’s ‘excellent’ litigation team is ‘responsive, flexible, accommodating, enthusiastic, hardworking and possesses a strong commercial sense’. Practice head Patrick Fleming (‘shrewd and approachable’) is leading advice to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in an ongoing dispute brought by a contractor concerning an asbestos surveying services contract. In another mandate, Aaron Moore , who is well known for his expertise in property matters, represented the Charles Shiels Charity in a claim against the project architect and building contractor responsible for the design, contract management, redevelopment and refurbishment of 18 charitable houses in Northern Ireland. Fergal Maguire (‘his communication skills are exceptional and his advice is meticulous, clear and easy to follow’) is acting for Victoria Housing Estates in a dispute with three former directors concerning alleged misappropriation of funds worth £20m; this matter is complex as some of the funds were allegedly diverted to a number of associated companies set up by one of the directors and as the client is now registered as a charity, the diverting of assets could be considered actionable. Managing director Jonathan Forrester (‘driven and pragmatic’)  advises on high-value construction disputes, and Michael King has expertise in intellectual property disputes.

Elliott Duffy Garrett’s caseload remains dominated by property and administrative disputes, which are often heard before the High Court. The ‘excellent’ Brian Deeny leads the practice and has a solid track record in handling matters concerning public utility companies. 2017 saw Marie-Louise Lowry (‘ferociously determined and never misses a point’) successfully represent property developer Portavo Estates in High Court proceedings regarding a dispute with Northern Ireland Water pertaining to pre-emption rights over Portavo Reservoir; the lands where the reservoir is located were handed back to the client. Christopher Duffy is commended as ‘very impressive and extremely hardworking’.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is experienced across a broad range of matters, including but not limited to professional negligence, judicial reviews, property litigation, and construction and contractor disputes. The highly regarded David Kirkpatrick heads the practice and is leading the team representing oil and gas company Tamboran Resources UK in high-profile judicial reviews against decisions made by government bodies preventing the company from carrying out fracking activities in Northern Ireland. Laura Gillespie is a key name for regulatory disputes. Other clients include Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Queen’s University Belfast.

Michael McCord is the key name at Tughans for commercial disputes, which are the backbone of the litigation practice. Kathy McGillie handles insurance litigation and Andrew Anthony is well known for advising on healthcare disputes. Construction disputes are also a key area of activity; McCord is leading the team representing Northstone (NI) in a €3m dispute with a Romanian client pertaining to a construction project taking place in Romania. Landlord and tenant disputes, media litigation and intellectual property disputes have all featured in the group’s recent caseload. Other clients include Randox Laboratories and the Bank of Ireland. Managing partner Patrick Brown is a key name for procurement disputes. Director Naomi Cooper is also recommended.

DWF’s litigation practice assists with employers’ liability, public liability, professional negligence, insurance and real estate matters. Past clients include the Bank of Ireland and AIB. Practice head Gareth Jones is ‘an excellent litigator’ with notable expertise in professional negligence cases.

Recent work for the team at Johnsons Solicitors  includes commercial , insurance and real estate disputes. The team is acting for Lambert Smith Hampton in a dispute over an alleged failure by insurers to accept a block notification of a number of claims. Danske Bank is another key client for the firm. Kenneth Alexander Chambers leads the team, in which David Craig and Gareth Liddy are also key names.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s ‘very professional’ litigation group continues to be active in construction and insurance matters. Highlights included defending Italian central heating flue manufacturer Groppalli in a £2m dispute over an allegedly defective heating system in an apartment development. Other clients include construction company JPM Contracts and McAleer & Rushe. Caroline Prunty heads the practice. Associate William McSorley is also recommended.

Mills Selig’s litigation team delivers ‘an excellent, proactive service’. Construction disputes and property litigation are key areas of activity for the group, which has been advising on construction and contractor disputes and planning challenges. Highlights included successfully acting for residential property developer Galliard Homes in a dispute with a management company over a large residential development site in Northern Ireland involving an inhibition being placed over the site; the inhibition was removed when the inhibitor withdrew its application. The ‘extremely able and thoughtfulEmma Hunt leads the team. Paul Spring retired in 2017.

The disputes practice at John McKee Solicitors is best known for handling insurance cases, such as professional negligence and construction matters. Employment disputes, banking litigation and property claims are also central to the practice The client base includes construction firms, banks, national insurers and transport companies. Managing partner Chris Ross leads the group, which also includes Leonard Edgar , who has notable expertise in representing insurer clients.

Kennedys is noted for its ‘commercial and client-led approach to dispute resolution’. Recent work for the team includes professional negligence, construction, personal injury, procurement and employment disputes. The group is continuing to advise banks and insurers on mis-selling and mis-valuation cases; in another matter, the group successfully defended an international retail company against four claims of racial discrimination. The ‘determined, meticulously detailed and highly combative’ Amanda Wylie leads the practice and is well known for her expertise in professional negligence matters. The ‘tenacious’ Raymond Gilmore garners praise for his ‘great grasp of construction litigation’.

Napier Solicitors’ practice has an established track record in personal injury, education, administrative, insolvency, employment, and property disputes. Practice head Joseph Napier is well known for handling public liability, employers’ liability and motor liability claims. Associate solicitor Maria McCloskey is another name to note.

Banking disputes are a core strength for TLT ’s ‘very professional’ team, which regularly acts for lenders in cases ranging from debt recovery and discrimination claims to professional negligence disputes. Other key areas of activity for the group include planning and real estate disputes. Practice head Katharine Kimber is ‘very polished, with a sharp legal and commercial mind’, and Frances Thompson is ‘extremely diligent and really fights her clients’ corner’.

Worthingtons attracts praise for its ‘efficient, highly professional, flexible and responsive legal service’. The team is well known for acting in public law, education, professional negligence and healthcare disputes, and has seen an uptick in commercial litigation. The group has a solid track record in challenges to the planned closure of courthouses and schools across Northern Ireland. In a standout mandate, the firm is representing livestock company AA McGuckian in a judicial review of the highly publicised Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme after being denied accreditation to the scheme on the ground that the EU had not given state aid approval; the client is seeking multitude of relief on the basis of the scheme being enshrined in Northern Irish legislation. Ciaran McConnell and Nikki McConnell, based in Belfast and Newtownards respectively, are the key partners and attract praise for their ‘high level of knowledge and expertise, delivered in a practical and approachable fashion’.

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