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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 > Projects, energy and natural resources > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings




Index of tables

  1. Energy
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Energy 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


A&L Goodbody’s market-leading energy practice has wide-ranging expertise, covering energy-related M&A, project financings and the project management aspects of renewable energy projects. Wind and waste-to-energy have been especially busy areas for the team; in 2016Ciaran McAlinney led the team advising Ulster Bank Ireland on the project financing of a significant 18MW windfarm and a 17MW windfarm in Northern Ireland, while Peter Stafford led the team assisting Business Growth Fund with its investment into RiverRidge Recycling, which holds a majority share in a £100m waste-to-energy plant under construction in Belfast Harbour in Belfast. McAlinney jointly heads the team alongside Mark Thompson, who led the advice to UK gas distribution company SGN on the construction of a new gas transmission pipeline across Northern Ireland, which involved advising on the acquisition of consensual land rights as well as on compulsory easements and compulsory purchases under the Gas (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. Associate Mark Stockdale is another key name and is noted for his knowledge of electricity, gas and renewables related regulatory issues. On the property side, Mark Blair advised longstanding client Gaelectric on its sale of 10 operational and four non-operational windfarms to CGN Europe Energy. The firm also assisted the same client with the financing of its energy projects at Corby Knowe, Dunbeg and Inishative.

Carson McDowell continued to operate at the forefront of developments in the energy market, handling a range of energy-related matters for a number of Northern Ireland’s leading energy players and spanning gas, renewable and electricity. Key clients include NTR, SSE and Phoenix Gas. In an illustration of the strength-in-depth of its renewable energy expertise, the team acted for Connective Energy on the £23m financing of an anaerobic digestion plant, which involved a £9.3m loan provided by InvestNI; assisted NTR on the financing of the Ora More and Altaveeden windfarms; and advising Lightsource Renewable Energy on the planning and regulatory aspects of Northern Ireland’s first utility-scale solar development connected to Belfast International Airport. On the traditional energy front the practice advised SONI, Northern Ireland’s electricity transmission system operator, on a planning application for a major project consisting of 100 new electricity pylons and a new substation connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In addition to handling the development aspects of energy projects, the firm also has a prominent track record advising on transactional energy matters; 2016 highlights included assisting Belfast Power with a multimillion-pound equity investment by Crescent Capital, and acted for Vinci Energies on its acquisition of Powell UK Engineering. M&A and financing expert Neasa Quigley leads the team, which includes Gary McGhee, who is recommended for his energy planning expertise, and Dawson McConkey, who has significant experience handling the real estate aspects of renewable energy projects.

In keeping with the firm’s national reputation for energy matters, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is regular fixture on market-leading projects in Northern Ireland, where it acts for a broad range of energy clients. The team advises on the full range of energy matters, from M&A and financings through to handling regulatory matters in the renewables sector. Its core area of activity remains windfarm projects, although it has the strength-in-depth to handle. In a particularly high-value and high-profile transaction for the region, the group acted for US infrastructure investment fund, I-Squared Capital, on the Northern Ireland aspects of its acquisition of Viridian Group, an all-Ireland independent energy company. In a separate matter, the firm advised Viridian on its multimillion-pound acquisition of a portfolio of wind projects in Northern Ireland. In an illustration of the firm’s regulatory capability, it is advising Firmus Energy on a range of regulatory issues, including proposed changes to the client’s gas licences in order to implement price control changes. Other clients include TCI Renewables and Eirgrid. Richard Murphy leads the practice.

Arthur Cox Belfast’s ‘diligent and pragmatic’ practice advises energy clients on transactions and financings across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and deftly straddles the traditional and renewable energy sectors, with a particular focus on gas. Dublin-based Alex McLean led the advice to Viridian Group on its sale to I-Squared Capital, a £1bn transaction giving the private equity manager a foothold in the all-Ireland renewable energy market. In another highlight the firm advised Gas Natural Fenosa on the acquisition of UK and Ireland electricity and gas supplier, Vayu. Other renewables clients include Energia group, which McLean and the team advised on the development and financing of five windfarms in Northern Ireland. Belfast-based Alan Taylor is also recommended.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin attracts praise for its ‘excellent sector knowledge, helpful and pragmatic advice, and very effective service’. The group acts for a range of clients including renewable energy developers, investment funds, banks and regulatory bodies, on financings and acquisitions, as well as on regulatory matters. Stephen Cross, who leads the energy practice and is ‘an excellent lawyer with deep industry expertise’, is leading the advice to EirGrid and SONI, the Irish electricity operators, on the European market integration project, which is seeking to establish systems of transmitting energy across Europe. Chairman Karen Blair and Joe Marley are the key names for planning and property; Marley led the advice to Assured Energy on the acquisitions of sites throughout Northern Ireland for the development of anaerobic digestion plants. Wind and solar continue to be active areas for the country; Marley has been acting for BNRG Renewables in the acquisition of sites for solar farm developments.

TLT’s national reputation for energy extends to its Belfast office, where partner Andrew Ryan and team are making their mark acting for energy companies and banks. The team advises on project development, site acquisitions, and financing aspects, related to large-scale energy projects. Recent highlights include advising Hadstone Energy on three ongoing projects in the country; advising Gaelectric on a £50m scheme to develop ground-mounted solar sites at existing windfarms across Northern Ireland. On the finance side, banking partner Richard Houliston acted for Danske Bank on the funding for a 500kw anaerobic digestion plant. Other clients for 2016 include Full Circle Power and ABO Wind. Associate Sarah Ewing is another key name in the group.

Tughans’ energy practice has been active across a range of energy mandates, including matters relating to gas, wind, anaerobic digestion and oil. The group advises on the acquisition of windfarms, as well as on financing and project development. In a standout matter the firm advices InvestNI on a £23m investment into an anaerobic plant in Ballymena; Ciara Lagan led the advice. Corporate head John-George Willis advised CGN on its acquisition of 14 windfarms across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Other clients include Aircore and Granville Ecopark.

Mills Selig’s energy practice primarily focuses on windfarm sales, including advising on funding the acquisitions and disposals. A standout transaction for the team was advising Renewable Energy Investments in relation to the sale of the entire share capital of Oak Renewables; property partner Anna-Marie McAlinden led the advice, and also advised on lease negotiations for their development plans. Solicitor Glenn Watterson leads the advice on solar installations, a growing area for the firm.

Project finance and PFI

Index of tables

  1. Project finance and PFI
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Project finance and PFI 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


Arthur Cox Belfast’s projects team acts across the infrastructure, energy and real estate spaces, and has been particularly busy acting for public bodies and government departments in procurement matters. Highlights included advising Arc21, which comprises six district councils in the eastern region of Northern Ireland, on the procurement of waste contracts, including the £1bn residual waste PPP; and advising Ulster University on the development of a new campus in the centre of Belfast as part of the Greater Belfast Development programme. The firm is also advising the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs on all aspects of the procurement of a new IT system to record and track the movements and health of food animals in Northern Ireland, and is advising the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on a project to replace its current IT systems with new and up-to-date systems. William Curry leads the team and is an established practitioner in the field of procurement.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is best known for its infrastructure expertise and represents bidders and government departments on procurement issues. In a highlight mandate the firm is advising the Education Authority of Northern Ireland on all operational matters pertaining to the £500m Belfast School Strategic Partnership Project, which is the first PFI project to use the strategic partnership scheme. Stuart Cairns is the key partner in the Belfast office; an expert in procurement for major infrastructure projects, Cairns led the advice to the Ards and North Down Borough Council on the procurement to maintain and operate a newly refurbished aquarium in Porta ferry. London-based partner Adrian Eakin is another name to note for projects and is currently leading the advice to Amber Infrastructure Fund on the bid to become the fund manager for the Northern Ireland Infrastructure Fund. Director Ciara Seymour is highly regarded for PPP work and acts for private and public sector clients.

A&L Goodbody’s expertise spans traditional project finance, where the team represents banks and investment funds, and also encompasses advising government departments on the procurement of contracts for a range of systems. Corporate partner Mark Thompson led the advice to Newtownabbey Borough Council on the procurement and development of a crematorium. On the project finance side, finance partner Ciaran McAlinney has been advising the lenders, on the project financing of a 4.5mw anaerobic digestion plant in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In another key mandate McAlinney acted for a major bank on multimillion-pound facilities for c.20MW of windfarms in Northern Ireland.

Carson McDowell’s team is particularly well known for representing contractors; on the PPP front the team advised FMP Joint Venture as the contractor for the Dumfries and Galloway Council Smarter School project. The firm also advised concessionaire, Amey Roads, on a major road scheme in Northern Ireland worth £250m. On the finance side Neasa Quigley led the advice to NTR on the $45.7m financing of the Ora More and Altaveedan windfarms by Ulster Bank Ireland. Gerard Armstrong heads the team and is particularly well known for his PPP/PFI expertise.

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