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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 > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

The 'exceptionally dedicated, personable and responsive' team at A&L Goodbody acts for local and international clients on the lender and borrower side, advising on loan sale transactions, capital markets, structured finance and syndicated lending, among other matters. Practice head Ciaran McAlinney specialises in acquisition and project finance, as well as large LMA-style financings; Louise Bailey's expertise includes real estate finance; and Judith Brown regularly advises on social housing finance. Senior associate Christopher Jessup has a niche specialism in financial regulation.

Practice head(s):Ciaran McAlinney

Other key lawyers:Judith Brown; Louise Bailey; Christopher Jessup

Testimonials

'Judith Brown is very pragmatic and solution focused and also has an excellent in-depth knowledge of the legal nuances of the transaction at hand.'

Key Clients

Danske Bank

Bank of Ireland

Barclays Bank

Santander

European Investment Bank

Ulster Bank/RBS

Wells Fargo

Allied Irish Banks plc / First Trust Bank

Euroclear

HSBC

Work highlights

  • Acting for First Trust Bank in the sale of a significant, primarily Northern Irish loan portfolio.
  • Acting for Devenish Nutrition, a major agri-tech group based in Belfast, on a €118m refinancing comprising debt provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and commercial lenders Ulster Bank and Danske Bank.
  • Advising National Westminster Bank plc as facility agent of a syndicate of banks on the financing of Hilton Food Group.
  • Advising Amigo Loans Limited, in its capacity as originator and subordinated lender, on the Northern Irish aspects of an asset-backed facility and securitisation with RBC Europe Limited (trading as RBC Capital Markets) as senior noteholder.
  • Assisting Radius Payment Solutions with the Northern Irish aspects of £255m term and revolving facilities and £50m accordion facilities.

Arthur Cox Belfast's team is 'always available, professional and responsive'; its clients include retail banks and investment funds, and it has been particularly active in advising private equity firms. The team has expertise in the financing of distressed debt purchases, as well as major loan and security sales and transfers, and real estate finance, including finance transactions for housing associations. Kieran McGarrigle heads the team; Stuart Mansfield regularly advises on structured finance transactions; and newly promoted partner Colm McElroy is noted for his strength  in private equity and distressed debt.

Practice head(s):Kieran McGarrigle

Other key lawyers:Stuart Mansfield; Colm McElroy

Testimonials

'Arthur Cox is an excellent firm to work with due to its ability to communicate complex issues in simple and succinct terms, the speed of response to any queries, the availability of staff at all levels, the quality of the advice it provides and its ability to offer commercial and strategic guidance on top of legal guidance.'

'Colm McElroy has no peers at his age within the market. Colm has a great ability to analyse and distill complex matters and to communicate his legal advice in a clear manner. He is very commercial in his approach and understands the client's business so he can stay ahead of the curve and frame his advice accordingly.'

'The team offers a bespoke service to its clients and resources as appropriate. It comes across as relationship focused and its staff reflect what appear to be its core values of integrity, legal expertise and outstanding commercial acumen.'

'The team has an excellent understanding of complex legal and commercial issues and really works with its client to protect their interests.'

'Arthur Cox distinguishes itself from its competitors with top-class exceptional customer service which is consistently delivered in all assignments. The depth of the team always ensures quality, timely advice and confidence that work is being executed as it should be.'

'Colm McElroy is a young, proactive and very knowledgeable partner; he always delivers to timescales, has strong commercial awareness, and is very helpful and professional.'

'Kieran McGarrigle is an exceptional lawyer with a wealth of experience. He is a champion for clear communication which everyone can understand, commercial, diligent, trusted and highly regarded.'

'Stuart Mansfield is very knowledgeable and approachable with a strong focus on exceptional customer delivery and prompt delivery of key legal advice which you can always rely on.'

'Arthur Cox is the premier banking firm in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.'

'The team has excellent technical knowledge combined with pragmatic commercial advice.'

'Colm McElroy has excellent technical knowledge and is extremely approachable. While ensuring the client's position is protected, he is also able to provide pragmatic commercial advice which is invaluable in the decision-making process.'

'Arthur Cox is in the very top tier of banking law firms in Northern Ireland, and a go-to firm for a major transaction. The team is well resourced, highly experienced, commercial, hardworking, and capable of delivering in very strict time scales, and managing complexity and multiple counterparties in an efficient, no-fuss manner.'

'Stuart Mansfield is very experienced, knowledgeable and hardworking. He has an exceptional ability to remain calm, patient and focused through protracted negotiation. He consistently delivers to stringent timescales, and is commercial and easy to work with.'

Key Clients

Barclays Bank PLC

National Westminster Bank plc

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Bank of Ireland

Promontoria Holding 127 B.V.

Bain Capital Private Equity

LP & Cinven Capital Management (VI) General Partner Limited

Garrison Earlsfort Investments Limited

Four Seasons Healthcare Group

Ulster Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising Barclays Bank in relation to £50m credit facilities to be made available to Radius Housing, a prominent housing association in Northern Ireland
  • Acting for Barclays Bank in relation to the ring-fencing measures being implemented as a consequence of legislative reforms introduced following the financial crisis
  • Acting for National Westminster Bank plc on the complex refinancing of C & C Group’s Northern Irish businesses within a wider multi-jurisdictional re-financing.
  • Advising Bain Capital Private Equity and Cinven Capital Management (VI) General Partner Limited as sponsors on the Northern Irish aspects of an accession by a Northern Irish obligor to a bond financing and senior revolving credit facility agreement.
  • Advising Garrison Earlsfort Investments on a restructuring of existing senior debt facilities advanced to Magenta Asset Management Limited, leading to the acquisition of the entire issued share capital in a number of obligor companies.

Carson McDowell has experience acting on the lender and borrower side of domestic and multi-jurisdictional transactions, with a particular focus on energy and real estate finance. The team is also active in advising leading financial institutions on lending to SMEs. Highly regarded practice head Sinead McGrath advises leading banks, peer-to-peer lenders, corporates and energy suppliers, among others.

Practice head(s):Sinead McGrath

Other key lawyers:Claire McCloskey

Testimonials

Claire McCloskey is hard working and delivers results for clients.’

'Sinead McGrath must be the calmest lawyer I have ever worked with. She is unflappable while keeping all parties working together and focused on what needs to be delivered, despite competing priorities and conflicting opinions. A complete star.'

'Sinead McGrath is one of the top banking lawyers in Northern Ireland. She is highly experienced, commercial and easy to deal with, and has a good negotiation style - personable but firm. She inspires confidence and delivers on everything that is asked from her.'

Key Clients

Northern Ireland Investment Fund

The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland/Bank of Ireland (UK) plc

Ulster Bank Limited and Ulster Bank Ireland Designated Activity Company

Allied Irish Banks plc/AIB Group (UK) p.l.c.

Barclays Bank plc

Deutsche Bank

JP Morgan Chase

BNP Paribas

Northern Bank Limited trading as Danske Bank

Assetz Finance

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Northern Ireland Investment Fund on its first investment in Northern Ireland, which involved a £22.5m loan to Oakland Group to finance the Merchant Square redevelopment in Belfast city centre.
  • Advising AES on the terms of margin finance facilities to be provided by Macquarie Bank to support trading on the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM).

  • Advising Prestige in relation to the refinancing of existing facilities with Ulster Bank and in availing of fresh facilities to fund the acquisition of shares in Octane London Market Limited.
  • Advising Deutsche Bank AG in relation to senior and mezzanine facilities being provided to Apollo to finance the purchase of the Tifco Hotel group (with two hotels in Northern Ireland).
  • Acting for Foresight Group on the initial acquisition and thereafter the debt financing of a solar photovoltaic development in County Down.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is praised for its 'positive, "can do" approach'; its areas of specialist advice include corporate finance, large-scale project finance and property finance, as well as funding for charitable and not-for-profit organisations. The team acts for major Northern Irish financial institutions, as well as international banks and investment funds, and advises specialised lenders on asset finance transactions. Its client base also includes a growing number of borrowers. Practice head Stephen Cross is 'very experienced and goes the extra mile to deliver for his client'; he specialises in energy project finance, while Deborah Archer is also a key contact.

Practice head(s):Stephen Cross

Other key lawyers:Deborah Archer

Testimonials

'Cleaver Fulton Rankin is approachable and proactive, with prompt turnarounds on all queries and requirements.'

'The team is diligent, thorough and responsive.'

'Cleaver Fulton Rankin is approachable and proactive. They provide prompt turnarounds on all queries and requirements.'

Key Clients

Danske Bank

HSBC Bank plc

Bank of Ireland

Ulster Bank Limited

First Trust Bank

Lakeland Dairies Group

Titanic Quarter Group

Northview Group

Nationwide Building Society

Close Brothers Asset Finance

Charity Bank

BNP Paribas

European Investment Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising Bank of Ireland (as security agent for a syndicate of banks) in relation to the €525m refinancing of facilities to the Dalata Group plc and its subsidiaries.
  • Advising Applegreen plc in relation to the €300m financing of its proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Welcome Break.
  • Advising Bank of Ireland in its capacity as super senior lender on the £60m investment by Perwyn in Lowe Rental.
  • Advising Lakeland Dairies Co-Operative Society Limited, a leading Irish dairy co-operative, on its proposed refinancing with a syndicate of lenders.
  • Advising the Titanic Quarter Group in the amendment and restatement of its existing £75m senior and mezzanine facilities.

Tughans regularly advises on the Northern Irish aspects of international transactions. The practice covers energy project finance, secured and unsecured lending for borrowers and financial institutions, business and debt restructuring, and acquisition and property finance. Fearghal O’Loan heads the team. Former practice co-head David McAleese left the firm.

Practice head(s):Fearghal O'Loan

Other key lawyers:Douglas Anderson

Millar McCall Wylie LLP acts for a wide range of lenders, including banks, funds and peer-to-peer lenders. The team regularly advises on property finance, energy and project finance, and the sale and purchase of mortgage and loan portfolios, while film finance is a niche area of expertise. Managing partner Peter McCall co-heads the practice with the 'excellent' John Finnegan, who has significant experience in the securitisation of non-property assets. Property specialist Simon Fleming and head of corporate Damian McParland are also key contacts. Christopher Neill moved to an in-house role.

Practice head(s):Peter McCall; John Finnegan

Other key lawyers:Simon Fleming; Damian McParland

Testimonials

'Millar McCall Wylie is well known and respected in Northern Ireland, which makes transactional work in the region easy. The team is knowledgeable and efficient.'

'Millar McCall Wylie is a strong firm with excellent client relationships. It has a particularly strong and responsive banking team with Simon Fleming as partner.'

'Simon Fleming is very commercial and he has an insightful understanding of transactions, including of Irish law issues.'

'The team is always willing and capable to go beyond the scope to ensure the transaction happens.'

'The team is extremely commercial, balancing the need for the precise legal advice with the need to provide commercially beneficial outcomes for the client's companies.'

'John Finnegan is a strong all-rounder with good experience.'

Key Clients

Fairfield Real Estate Finance Services Ltd

Bank of Ireland

Danske Bank

Jefferies Loan Core (Europe) Limited

DRC Capital

Blend Loan Network

Assetz Capital

Clearwell Capital

First Trust Bank

Whiterock Capital Partners (NI Growth Loan Fund)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Fairfield as mezzanine funder on the refinancing of the Merchant Square development in Belfast city centre being undertaken by the Oakland Group
  • Advising Fairfield on the refinancing of the Kilmona Group, which involved detailed due diligence on a number of commercial properties and residential development sites in the greater Belfast area
  • Acting for the bank on a £4m term loan to Longbridge House Ltd.
  • Advising in relation to this acquisition finance facility in the sum of £1.86m, to assist in the purchase of Laharna Retail Park in Larne
  • Advising the bank on the provision of finance for a management buyout of a successful financial services company

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP regularly acts on high-value transactions on both the borrower and lender side, and is particularly experienced in energy finance. Other areas of expertise include structured finance, real estate finance (particularly financing for office developments and hotels) and private equity. Edinburgh-based John MacIver leads the team along with legal director Caroline MacLaughlin, who is expanding the practice into niche areas such as education finance.

Practice head(s):Caroline MacLaughlin; John Maciver

Other key lawyers:Seána Donaghy

Testimonials

'The team has a very good understanding of clients' business needs and banking and finance.'

'Caroline McLaughlin, senior associate Stiofán Doherty and Seána Donaghy are particularly strong in their areas and provide an excellent service.'

'The team has strength in depth, is properly resourced and is genuinely commercial and pragmatic.'

Key Clients

Ulster Bank Limited

Northern Bank Limited (trading as Danske Bank)

Bank of Ireland

Ulster Bank Ireland DAC

Tristan Capital and Ellandi LLP

Blackfinch Investments Limited

BP Oil UK Limited

Allied Irish Bank plc

RBS

Work highlights

  • Advising a syndicate of banks on the £500m financing of the acquisition of Belfast-based Lagan Group
  • Acting for Mutual Energy on its £200m debt capital markets financing of the Gas to the West Project in Northern Ireland
  • Advising Apex Housing Association in Northern Ireland on continued tranche drawdowns under its £130m funding from the European Investment Bank
  • Advising Luxco on the financing aspects of its acquisition of Northern Ireland-based drinks company Niche Drinks

TLT is particularly experienced in acting for lenders, although it has recently expanded its borrower-side client base to include a number of major local and UK-wide companies. The team focuses on complex bilateral financings and financing for large projects, as well as specialist areas such as invoicing and asset finance. Richard Houliston, who has expertise in secured lending and financial services regulation, leads the practice jointly with 'impressive' energy finance specialist Anna Vangrove.

Practice head(s):Richard Houliston; Anna Vangrove

Other key lawyers:Michael Kelly

Testimonials

'Anna Vangrove is always very responsive. She provides sound, practical advice and is great at tuning in to the client's core commercial objectives.'

'Anna Vangrove gets things done with a minimum of fuss.'

'TLT provides consistently high-quality and professional delivery in all assignments undertaken. The Belfast team is growing, reflective of its strong market offering supported by its national firm footprint.'

'Richard Houliston is an exceptionally strong and experienced lawyer with exceptional attention to detail and strong commercial awareness. He is always approachable and always offers advice that you can rely on.'

Key Clients

AIB Group (UK) plc t/a First Trust Bank

Ulster Bank Limited

The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland and Bank of Ireland (UK) plc

Northern Bank Limited t/a Danske Bank

Santander UK plc

HSBC  Bank plc

Northern Ireland Investment Fund

Assetz Capital

Braidwater Limited

Capitalflow

Work highlights

  • Acting for CBRE and the Northern Irish Investment Fund in respect of a £9m project financing loan to a Northern Irish SPV to develop a major multi-storey car park in central Belfast
  • Advising First Trust on its financing of the construction of a mixed-use retail and student accomodation development in Belfast city centre
  • Acting for First Trust in relation to the provision of facilities totalling £11.7m to a Northern Ireland-based company in the agri-food sector
  • Advising Ulster Bank on its financing of a portfolio of commercial properties in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland owned by a well-known property investor
  • Acting for Bank of Ireland on the transfer and novation of loans made to a charity (which owned and operated a number of educational centres) to a newly formed limited company by guarantee

DWF primarily acts for mainstream banks, funds and bridging finance lenders, and is seeing an increasingly cross-jurisdictional element to its work, which covers real estate, business acquisition and energy project finance, and the financing of private equity investments into major Northern Irish businesses. The team is active in various sectors, including healthcare, hotels, student accommodation, electronics, agri-food and telecoms. Following the departure of Ian Stanfield, Julie Huddleston leads the team, which was recently bolstered by the arrival of director Alison Reid from John McKee Solicitors.

Practice head(s):Julie Huddleston

Other key lawyers:Alison Reid

Testimonials

'DWF has a highly proactive team with dedicated associates for each aspect of the transaction, overseen by an engaged partner.'

'Associate Patrice Murphy is engaged, responsive and knowledgeable in all her dealings.'

'The team has a good spread of experience and legal coverage over several jurisdictions. It offers a quality service with strong and regular communication updates.'

'DWF has a highly experienced and respected team and provides a very strong, efficient and responsive service.'

'Julie Huddleston has significant experience and is very commercially aware. She provides strong advice and guidance and deals with all requests in an efficient and timely manner.'

Key Clients

Bank of Ireland (UK) plc

AIB Group UK plc

Ulster Bank Group

Santander UK plc

HSBC

Danske Bank

Clydesdale Bank

Atom Bank

Assetz

Ortus Secured Finance

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of First Trust Bank as funder in connection with the purchase by Lonsdale Capital Partners of shares in the Elite Electronics Group of Companies

Elliott Duffy Garrett has 'a strong understanding of clients' needs'; it acts for a range of lenders, including local and UK-wide banks, building societies and credit unions. The team is noted for its experience advising on financial regulation, as well as sale, securitisation and covered bond programmes relating to Northern Irish mortgage portfolios. Kevin McVeigh leads the practice. Associate Patricia Beckett, who is 'always available to provide sound advice', has particular expertise advising on housing association finance from both the lender and borrower side.

Practice head(s):Kevin McVeigh

Other key lawyers:Patricia Beckett

Key Clients

Connswater Homes Limited

Northern Bank Limited

Ulster Bank Limited

Leeds Building Society

Bank Of Scotland Plc

Feniton Property Finance Dac

Premium Credit Limited

Tennent’s Ni Limited

Choice Housing Ireland Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for a housing association in relation to loan facilities and associated security over housing schemes
  • Representing a housing association in the perfection of security over housing schemes
  • Acting for a bank in a covered bond transaction
  • Advising Leeds Building Society on a covered bond programme
  • Represented a Northern Irish clearing bank in a lending transaction to fund the acquisition of a business

John McKee Solicitors advises on property, project and energy finance, as well as secured and unsecured loan and credit facilities and securitisation. Clients include a number of banks based throughout the UK and in the Republic of Ireland. Consultant Avril McCammon leads the practice; her wide-ranging experience includes acting for funders on loan portfolio sales, and the financing of corporate acquisitions, residential developments and social housing. Philip McBride and Donald Thompson, who joined from DWF, are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):Avril McCammon

Other key lawyers:Philip McBride; Donald Thompson

Testimonials

'The team is able to deliver complicated, key transactions within very tight timelines.'

'Avril McCammon's legal knowledge stands out amongst her peers. She is able to see the issues and more importantly provide solutions to keep all parties on board and moving towards a satisfactory conclusion.'

'John McKee Solicitors is a well-respected practice that represents both lender and borrower-side clients and is capable of managing the full range of clientele from complex high-value matters to SME commercial borrowing. The team is always responsive, commercial and focused on delivering on the client's expectations.'

'Don Thompson provides high-quality commercial advice. He has an efficient, common-sense approach which finds solutions not problems, and is focused on driving his caseload to meet the client's timeframe.'

Key Clients

Bank of Ireland

Ulster Bank

AIB Group UK plc

Northern Bank t/a Danske Bank

Lloyds Bank

Clydesdale Bank

Santander

Work highlights

  • Acting for Bank of Ireland in connection with the refinance of a large quarry business with assets in Northern Ireland and England.
  • Acting in a very short time frame for Bank of Ireland on the funding of the purchase of apartments in a landmark residential block in Belfast.
  • Acting for a bank in Northern Ireland in connection with the refinancing of a chain of licensed premises.
  • Advising Northern Bank t/a Danske Bank on the funding of Titanic Group.
  • Acting for the bank in relation to the funding of an anaerobic digestion plant.

Mills Selig is primarily active on the borrower side of transactions; its areas of focus include energy finance (particularly advising on the funding of anaerobic digestors and wind farms), real estate finance, and development and acquisition finance. The team counts a number of manufacturing and hospitality sector companies among its clients. 'Fantastic' and 'very strong' senior associate Naomi Gaston joined from Carson McDowell to lead the team; she has particular expertise in asset-based lending and loan sales.

Practice head(s):Naomi Gaston

Testimonials

'Mills Selig is commercial, client focused, pragmatic, friendly to deal with, solutions driven and cost conscious.'

Key Clients

Whiterock Capital

Bank of Ireland

First Derivatives plc

Ortus Secured Finance

Danske Bank

Charities Aid Foundation Bank

Privilege Project Finance

Close Leasing

Work highlights

  • Representing First Derivatives Plc in the negotiation of a £130m syndicated loan
  • Acting for McCausland Holdings Limited in a landmark £20m investment in Belfast infrastructure
  • Advising Close Leasing on the acquisition finance of a wind farm
  • Representing alternative lender Ortus Secured Finance in a high-value real estate refinance
  • Advising Marcus Square Developments on the £6.4m purchase of a landmark property asset by way of a share purchase

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