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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 > Finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Banking and finance

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Banking and finance clients in Northern Ireland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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A&L Goodbody’s finance team has an established client base of local and international banks and investment firms, as well as experience in advising borrowers. The group’s wide-ranging expertise spans loan portfolio sales, project financings, financial services regulatory matters and refinancings for clients drawn from the real estate, financial services, retail and energy sectors. The team continues to act as Northern Ireland counsel for the European Investment Bank and advised the client on the regulatory aspects of the £150m bilateral loan provided to Choice Housing Ireland Limited to finance a number of social housing schemes in Northern Ireland. The firm is advising HSBC on the Northern Ireland aspects of ring-fencing its retail business. In other highlights, the group acted for Clydesdale Bank in its £10.4m acquisition of Silvan House in Edinburgh, and represented Morgan Stanley Senior Funding and US Bank National Association as the term lenders in the $440m refinancing of the Agro Merchants Group. Other clients include Barclays and Danske Bank. Judith Brown heads the team, which also includes project finance expert Ciaran McAlinney and Louise Bailey .

Arthur Cox Belfast’s team attracts praise for its ‘broad knowledge across the banking and finance sector’. The group has a solid track record representing financial institutions, including banks, as well as investment fund clients and private equity firms such as Cerberus and Marathon Asset Management; distressed debt purchases and refinancings are notable areas of strength. 2017 saw the firm act for Marathon Asset Management on the refinancing of its property assets in Northern Ireland, namely Cityside Retail Park, Shane Retail Park and the Obel Tower. The group also assisted Davidson Kempner refinance its debt with the Titanic Group. The very experienced Kieran McGarrigle leads the team, which also includes associate Colm McElroy.

The ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ finance group at Carson McDowell  assists lenders and borrowers with financings and securitisation transactions for clients from the real estate, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors. Housing and agri-food mandates are growing areas of instruction; highlights included acting for Barclays in taking security over a £38m facility for 13 separate housing schemes from two prominent housing associations in Northern Ireland, and assisting the Hilton Food Group with the financing of its £80.8m acquisition of fish processor Icelandic Seachill. In a showcase of its refinancing expertise, the team acted for JPMorgan Chase, a member of a syndicate of lenders, as Northern Ireland counsel on the €600m refinancing of Valeo Foods. Other highlights included advising Skipton on the Northern Ireland aspects of the £220m sale of a portfolio of 1,600 residential UK mortgages to a fund managed by a global investment management firm. Sinead McGrath heads the practice, which also includes senior associate Graeme McKee and associate Naomi Gaston.

According to some, Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s practice is ‘fully au fait with all aspects of banking and finance’. The group acts for a predominantly lender client base, including Danske Bank, Nationwide, Santander, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, and its expertise includes acquisition finance, corporate finance and project financings, among other areas. Project finance expert and practice head Stephen Cross has ‘a huge level of knowledge and experience in the sector and is generally unflappable’; he acted as Northern Ireland counsel to energy company Wirsol regarding a £88m loan from Bayerische Landesbank to finance the development of 19 solar sites across England and Northern Ireland. In another highlight, Cross and Deborah Archer assisted the Titanic Quarter Group with a £75m refinancing package to continue the regeneration of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. In 2017, Christopher Neill moved to Millar McCall Wylie LLP .

Tughans’ finance team provides a ‘very good level of service’ to banks, corporates and investment firms on restructurings, property development, acquisitions and project finance, among other areas. Highlights included acting as Northern Ireland counsel to Delamare Cards MTN Issuer regarding the £1.4bn issuance of notes backed by Visa and MasterCard credit card receivables originated by Tesco Personal Finance PLC; advising Investec Bank on a £27m financing to a South African investment company to purchase a Tesco Superstore in Newry; and acting as Northern Ireland counsel to NewDay inits £295m issuance of consumer credit-backed securities. Other clients include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which the firm represented in its purchase of the Jurys Inn Group, and the Bank of Ireland, which the firm advised on providing increased loan facilities to a leading telecoms provider for the purpose of restructuring the group. Fearghal O'Loan jointly leads the practice with David McAleese, who is well known for his expertise in property and restructuring mandates.

Avril McCammon heads the finance practice at John McKee Solicitors, which has a solid track record in assisting banks and financial services companies. The group primarily represents lender clients, including Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Danske Bank. Past instructions have come from the renewable energy and social housing sectors, particularly housing associations. Alison Reid and Philip McBride are key partners in the team and have expertise advising clients on security issues arising from wind farm options and leases.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s ‘strong and responsive’ banking team has expertise in both borrower- and lender-side work and has been particularly active in loan sales and refinancing transactions, as well as seeing an uptick in acquisition mandates. Highlights included assisting a global bank with financing agricultural company Glenmore Estate’s acquisition of the Grianán Estate on Lough Swilly from Donegal Investment Group; advising Fairfield Real Estate Finance on the refinancing of the property portfolio of Kilmona Holdings, which involved the acquisition of a new development site; and acting for the Bank of Ireland in financing the acquisition of a large residential nursing home business in West Belfast. Other clients include DRC Capital and Danske Bank. Christopher Neill, who joined the firm from Cleaver Fulton Rankin in 2017, leads the team, which also includes Simon Fleming and Andrew Kerr.

The finance practice at Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP has a solid track record in lender-side representations but recently has been particularly active on behalf of borrowers. Recent highlights include assisting Apex Housing Association with a £130m facility from the European Investment Bank for the purpose of developing social housing properties, and acting as Northern Ireland counsel to Phoenix Natural Gas in a multimillion-pound syndicated facility agreement with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Other clients include Danske Bank, BP Oil and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Director Caroline MacLaughlin leads the team.

TLT’s ‘very responsive, commercial and knowledgeable’ finance team ‘strikes the right balance between being constructive, providing value for money, and offering dependable advice’. The group is adept at representing borrower and lender clients, particularly within the environmental and real estate sectors. Highlights for 2017 included acting for First Trust Bank in a £9m loan to mushroom producer Howden Enterprises and its subsidiary K Hughes & Co for developing a mushroom growing and packaging plant in Yorkshire, and assisting Ulster Bank with its loan facilities to Ardina Investments relating to the refinancing of its existing loan facilities for properties in Northern Ireland. Other clients include Bank of Ireland. The ‘hardworking and engaging’ Richard Houliston leads the team. Associate Anna Vangrove is singled out for her ‘exceptional levels of service, responsiveness and commerciality’.

Ian Stanfield heads up DWF’s banking and finance practice, which has a solid track record in representing traditional and alternative lenders in acquisition financing transactions and refinancings. Past clients include AIB, Bank of Ireland and US investment fund Fortress.

Elliott Duffy Garrett’s banking and finance team attracts praise for its ‘professional knowledge’, particularly in relation to the social housing sector. The group has been assisting housing associations with financings for property development purposes, with values in excess of £30m. Other recent areas of activity include acting for financial institutions in covered bond programme matters. The client base includes Ulster Bank, Tennent’s NI and Choice Housing Ireland. Kevin McVeigh leads the practice, which includes associates Patricia Beckett and Cathy Murphy and solicitor John McElrone.


Insolvency and corporate recovery

Index of tables

  1. Insolvency and corporate recovery
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Insolvency and corporate recovery clients in Northern Ireland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Viewed as ‘one of the leading firms in this area in Northern Ireland’, A&L Goodbody’s insolvency practice provides a ‘quality service’ and ‘very strategic’ advice on, among other things, administrations and restructurings in the construction and property sectors. The firm has a track record in assisting a number of the Big Four accountancy firms, including KPMG, Deloitte and PwC. The ‘excellent’ Michael Neill, who garners praise for ‘his strategic thinking and ability to anticipate and counter the other side’s next moves’, leads the team, which also includes associates Sam Corbett (‘his work ethic is second to none’) and Ross Kane. In a key mandate, Neill led advice to the administrator of Geotech Construction on exiting the administration process; this involved a successful application to the High Court for release and exit from administration, allowing the company to be re-capitalised. In another matter, the group is representing the liquidator of Dornan’s Service Station in a dispute over the ownership of property; the company director claims the property was transferred to him while the liquidator maintains the property is in the name of the company. The firm is continuing to assist banks with the restructuring and sale of loans. Other clients include Santander and Cerberus Capital Management.

Property, construction and agri-food remain key areas of instruction for Arthur Cox Belfast’s insolvency team, which continues to advise administrators, insolvency practitioners and distressed companies on administrations, liquidations and insolvency litigation. Practice head and insolvency expert Kieran McGarrigle is advising the joint supervisors of the insolvent Presbyterian Mutual Society Limited, which is under a scheme of arrangement, on matters involving compliance with the arrangement and enforcement proceedings. In another high-profile matter, the firm defended Ernst & Young as administrator of the Curran Court Hotel against challenges made by the owners concerning the administration and sale of the property. Other key clients for the group include KPMG and PwC.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin has a solid track record advising administrators, company directors and banks on a broad range of insolvency proceedings, including the appointment of fixed charge receivers, administrations, and voluntary and involuntary bankruptcies. In a key mandate, ‘direct and to-the-point’ practice head Jeanette Donohoe led advice to Engage Commercial, which was handling the recovery of several multimillion-pound loans after it acquired a loan portfolio from AIB Bank, on issuing an administration application to a defaulting borrower who was challenging the validity of the entire loan sale. Other key clients include Ernst & Young, which the firm is advising on its appointment as administrator of Cloghogue Enterprises, former owner of a business park in Newry. Ulster Bank, HSBC Bank and Keenan Corporate Finance are also included in the firm’s client base. Caitriona Morgan, who was recently promoted to associate director, is ‘exceptionally knowledgeable on all corporate and personal insolvency matters, as well as being very well organised, and is an excellent ally in a litigation battle’.

Napier and Sons  has an excellent reputation in the insolvency sphere and is noted for its established track record of advice to individuals, banks, insolvency practitioners and their respective accountancy firms. Past instructions for the team include assisting with personal insolvencies, voluntary and involuntary arrangements, corporate restructurings, and cases concerning directors' duties. The highly regarded Maria Glover is noted for her expertise in handling cases involving personal insolvency matters. Senior partner Brigid Napier, who is best known for her experience in voluntary arrangement matters, is another key name. Managing partner John Gordon  is well known for his advice to high-net-worth individuals and experience in contentious insolvency cases.

Tughans’ insolvency practice attracts praise for its ‘very strong business acumen’ and assists banks, accountancy firms, insolvent companies and directors across a spectrum of matters, including the appointment of administrators, debt recovery and liquidation proceedings. Highlights included representing Boxpak in a dispute with insolvent bakery company Reynards and its administrators regarding a £250,000 debt owed to Boxpak alongside stock worth £100,000 held by Reynards, which was subject to a retention of title clause in favour of Boxpak; the stock was successfully returned to the client. Other clients include Bank of Scotland, Keenan Corporate Finance and Bank of Ireland. Toby McMurray and Fearghal O'Loan lead the team, which also includes director Kevin Gallagher, who is singled out for his ‘good attention to detail and commercially minded approach’ towards contentious insolvency matters.

Carson McDowell ’s team provides ‘pragmatic and commercial advice’ on a range of insolvency cases, for clients ranging from accountancy firms and lenders to individuals and distressed companies. Recent work for the firm included high-profile administrations, debt recovery issues and bankruptcies across the healthcare, construction and professional sport sectors. In a key mandate, the group is advising longstanding client Grant Thornton, as administrator of a local trading company, on challenges to the former directors of the trading company, a property unit trust and a local Irish League football club concerning transactions taking place before the insolvency proceedings involving the recovery of a multimillion-pound loan from the trust. Other clients include Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland and the Lakesmere Group. Sinead McGrath leads the team with the ‘very knowledgeable and responsive’ Darren Toombs, who is well known for his debt recovery expertise, and senior associate Graeme McKee, who has particular experience in distressed property sales.

Mills Selig ’s ‘very knowledgeable’ insolvency practice provides ‘an excellent service with quick response times’. The ‘very practical’ team has notable strength in handling corporate and personal insolvency cases for high-net-worth individuals, distressed companies, and trustees in bankruptcy; recent instructions include administrations, individual voluntary arrangements, multimillion-pound liquidations, and corporate restructurings, particularly within the construction, professional services and energy sectors. Managing partner John Kearns leads the team; he is ‘very knowledgeable in the area of personal and corporate insolvency’, is ‘practical and pragmatic in his advice’, and has particular experience in enforcement procedures. Senior associate Richard Craig has ‘in-depth knowledge of insolvency law and is a shrewd tactician’ who ‘ensures no stone is left unturned and will go the extra mile for his clients’.

Elliott Duffy Garrett assists administrators and banks with a broad spectrum of insolvency proceedings, including bankruptcy, liquidation, the appointment of administrators and fixed charge receivers, and enforcement issues. The team is acting for Keenan Corporate Finance on the administration of construction company David Patton & Sons, involving ongoing advice concerning redundancies and other insolvencies. In another matter, the group advised Danske Bank on an enforcement of security dispute with one of its bankrupt clients; this involved a possession order being made at the same time as an enforcement of judgment application. Christopher Duffy leads the team, which includes Leo Brown and associate Ian McFarland. Managing partner and consultant Michael Wilson is highly regarded for his insolvency expertise.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s insolvency practice provides ‘good quality advice’ and is ‘very strong’ in the property and construction sectors. It assist with the appointment of fixed charge receivers and administrators, as well as handles liquidation procedures. Highlights included the group acting for Grant Thornton as the fixed charge receiver of lands in County Down; the team advised the client on the ultimate disposal of the lands. Other clients include ASM Accountants, PKF-FPM Accountants and Duff & Phelps. Damian McParland heads the team, which also includes the ‘very responsive’ Simon Fleming, who has an excellent reputation for acting on property-related insolvencies, and solicitor Neil McCreadie.


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