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Who Represents Who

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One of the top firms in the country’, A&L Goodbody’s litigation team is praised for combining ‘excellent technical knowledge’ with being ‘easy to work with’. The team has particular strength in contentious construction, procurement and real estate matters, and in 2016 the firm experienced an uptick in technology and professional negligence disputes. Brendan Fox heads the practice; he has extensive construction and technology litigation expertise and acts for a wide-ranging client base that includes banks, developers, housing associations and insurance companies. Fox is leading the team acting for Danske Bank in multimillion-pound professional negligence claims against surveyors and valuers. Fox is also handling high-value insurance coverage disputes concerning design and construction of infrastructure projects. In an illustration of its ability to handle complex procurement disputes, Fox is leading the team defending Northern Ireland Water against a challenge to a four-year framework agreement for the construction and renovation of water mains. Micaela Diver, who was promoted to partner in May 2016, is highly regarded for her expertise in regulatory disputes; she regularly acts for public bodies such as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Invest NI and Translink. Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank Limited are also clients.

Arthur Cox Belfast has a ‘pre-eminent disputes practice’ that attracts praise for its ‘excellent client service and reliable, practical advice’. The team has wide-ranging expertise covering professional negligence, insolvency, banking and construction disputes. Recent mandates include defending Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited in a high-profile, multi-million pound claim for damages brought by a well-known local property developer alleging misrepresentation and negligence, amongst other claims, in relation to the Odyssey complex. Matthew Howse is leading on that matter and has particular expertise in banking and insolvency disputes; his other highlights included acting for the liquidator of Meteor Controls Limited in highly-contested court applications, including at Court of Appeal level. Managing partner Catriona Gibson, who heads the department and is praised for being a ‘safe pair of hands, with experience across multiple jurisdictions and excellent knowledge of banking litigation’, is leading the team representing Ulster Bank in proceedings brought against property developers Michael and John Taggart. In an illustration of his professional indemnity expertise, Chris Ritchie is leading the advice to Allianz in relation to a number of professional indemnity claims against a firm of surveyors.

Carson McDowell attracts praise for its ‘professional knowledge and commercial awareness’, as well as for its ability to deliver ‘straightforward, focused advice’. The team’s wide-ranging expertise covers insurance, healthcare, construction, media and administrative disputes. In a key matter, the ‘approachable and understandingDeclan Magee represented the Northern Ireland Local Government in a dispute concerning the application of the Pension Scheme Rules to the client’s occupational scheme; the matter reached the UK Supreme Court, which found in favour of the appellant. Magee also acted for Belfast International Airport in a dispute with Aer Lingus alleging that the airline had breached the terms of a 10-year agreement to operate out of the airport. Other clients include Northern Ireland coach manufacturer, Wrightbus; road supplier, FP McCann; and Dalradian Water. McGee jointly heads the practice with healthcare expert Roger McMillan.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s litigation team provides a ‘quality service and an excellent client experience, particularly in difficult and complex matters’. Practice head Patrick Fleming is leading the team representing the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in a dispute brought by a contractor concerning an asbestos surveying services contract, which involved multiple adjudications as well as hearings at the High Court and Court of Appeal. In another major case, professional negligence expert Aaron Moore is representing the administrator of Forthouse Developments in a claim against the solicitor responsible for advising the company on the acquisition, development and onward sale real estate. Fergal Maguire and Michael King, who both specialise in commercial litigation, were promoted to partner in 2016. Jonathan Forrester advises on a range of commercial litigation, including high-value construction disputes.

Clients rate Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s litigation team as ‘second to none’ and highlight its combination of ‘established local knowledge with UK-wide resources and excellent levels of service’. The team’s experience spans procurement and shareholder disputes, judicial reviews, professional negligence and property litigation, among other areas. The ‘cool, calm and collectedDavid Kirkpatrick heads the practice and led the team representing the Belfast Harbour Commissioners in a high-profile dispute concerning the construction and interpretation of a master framework agreement governing a large-scale real estate regeneration scheme. In another key matter, Laura Gillespie led the team representing Hambleton Steel Limited in a £1.5m dispute concerning the collapse of concrete slabs during the construction of school in Guernsey. Gillespie is a key name for regulatory disputes; she regularly acts for government bodies in health and safety prosecutions and investigations. Other clients include Financial Advice Network and oil and gas company Tamboran Resources UK.

Tughans handles a broad range of commercial disputes under the leadership of Michael McCord, while Kathy McGillie leads on insurance litigation and Andrew Anthony handles healthcare disputes. Construction disputes are a key area of activity; McCord is leading the team representing Vaughan Engineering Services in a £9m dispute over the construction of a critical care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Managing partner Patrick Brown is a key figure for procurement disputes and is acting alongside Naomi Cooper for Northern Ireland Water in a £4.5m claim brought by Glen Water alleging breach of a project agreement. Other clients include RPS and Northstone (NI) Ltd; the firm is defending the former client in High Court proceedings brought by a contractor alleging professional negligence concerning the design of a coffer dam system at Thompson Dock in Belfast.

DWF’s merger with C&H Jefferson has given the national firm a strong foothold in the region. The litigation team is headed by Gareth Jones, who is particularly highly regarded for his expertise in professional negligence cases. The team also houses experts in professional negligence, insurance, finance and real estate. Key clients include the Bank of Ireland, AIB and Marsh Claims Consulting.

Noted for its ‘exceptionally high standards and clear commitment to cases at all times’, Elliott Duffy Garrett’s litigation team continues to be active in property and administrative disputes. Brian Deeny leads the practice and is praised for being ‘a steady pair of hands who brings years of experience and sound judgement’; Deeny has been handling a number of cases concerning public utility companies. In a key mandate, Marie-Louise Lowry (who is commended for being an ‘excellent strategist and litigator, a strong leader and good team player’) represented the Bar Council for Northern Ireland and the Law Society of Northern Ireland in a judicial review of the Legal Aid for Crown Court Proceedings Costs (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2015. In an illustration of his property expertise, Christopher Duffy acted for Feniton Property Finance Limited in a £3.5m debt recovery matter.

Johnsons Solicitors is highly regarded for its expertise in media disputes. The team consists of defamation, data protection and brand protection experts who act for a range of corporate clients such as Ryanair as well as high-profile individuals including the Duchess of York. The firm fields a number of practitioners dual-qualified in the UK and Republic of Ireland, giving it the ability to handle cross-border cases. Paul Tweed left the firm in September 2017 to establish his own practice.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s litigation group advises on a range of insolvency, construction and insurance matters, with recent clients including contractors, developers, banks and healthcare companies. Highlights included defending a major construction company in a judicial review concerning breach of contract and insurance indemnity issues arising from the construction of a shopping centre. Caroline Prunty heads the practice.

Mills Selig has seen an increase in property litigation matters and has been advising on multi-million pound dilapidation claims, landlord and tenant disputes as well as related construction and contractor disputes; clients include Murdock Property group and other property developers. Another central work-stream for the practice is procurement disputes and the team, led by the ‘strong and savvy litigatorEmma Hunt, advised DCC Energy on their claims against the Department for Finance and Personnel on a £3m contract to supply gas to government buildings and schools. Insolvency and construction disputes are another key area for the firm. Paul Spring leads the practice and is best known for his expertise in media law and general commercial litigation.

John McKee Solicitors’s disputes team handles a range of insurance cases, including professional negligence and construction matters, as well as banking litigation, employment disputes and property claims. Clients include national insurers, transport companies and construction firms. Managing partner Chris Ross leads the group, which includes Leonard Edgar, who is best known for his experience acting for insurers.

Kennedys advises on range of professional negligence and construction cases for its insurer client. Key areas of activity have included mis-selling and mis-valuation cases, where it has been acting for banks as well as insurers. Amanda Wylie leads the practice and is well versed in professional negligence. Raymond Gilmore is highly regarded for representing architects, engineers and contractors in a range of construction disputes.

Napier and Sons houses a highly reputable disputes practice that is noted for its expertise in insolvency, employment, property, personal injury and administrative disputes. Joseph Napier leads the team and has notable expertise in employers’ liability, motor liability and public liability claims. The firm is continuing to advise on historic abuse investigations and has considerable expertise in administrative proceedings. Associate Maria McCloskey is another key name. Clients include BT and Royal Mail.

TLT’s litigation team regularly acts for lenders in banking disputes, and the team has also been active in planning and real estate disputes. Banks form the bulk of the client base and cases range from fraud prosecutions to professional negligence disputes. In a key mandate, Katharine Kimber led the team acting for UKAR on issues arising from the sale of mortgage and buy-to-let loans to Cerberus Capital Management, a number of which were subject to litigation or enforcement action, necessitating strategic advice on managing the change of ownership issues. Frances Thompson was promoted to partner in May 2016.

Worthingtons is best known for acting in public law, education, professional negligence and healthcare matters. The team has been involved in a number of headline-grabbing cases including challenges to the planned closure of courthouses and numerous schools across Northern Ireland. In an illustration of its track record in public and administrative law matters, the firm acted in the judicial review of the Northern Ireland Health Minister’s decision to ban homosexual men from donating blood. Other key clients include property management firm, Vertas Properties, and civil engineering contractor Terra Solutions. Ciaran McConnell and Nikki McConnell are the key partners and are based in Belfast and Newtownards, respectively.

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