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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 > Real estate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Commercial property

Index of tables

  1. Commercial property
  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 Commercial property 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 property team’s expertise includes assisting investment firms, property developers and banks with hotel developments, loan portfolio sales, and high-value acquisitions. Highlights in 2017 included Tracey Schofield leading advice to the Jurys Inn Group in the acquisition of an adjoining site to extend the city centre hotel by adding 80 bedrooms; Schofield then assisted private equity investor Lone Star with the Northern Irish aspects of the sale of the Jurys Inn Group to Swedish hotel investor Pandox. This complex transaction involved securing the site acquisition and new hotel licence before the disposal took place, and the disposal involved negotiating certificates of title and deeds of release. Mark Blair  heads the practice.

Carson McDowell’s key strength lies in acting for developers and retailers in high-value acquisitions, development projects and high-value lettings and disposals. Emma Cooper is advising key client The Belfast Harbour Commissioners on the leasing of the multimillion-pound City Quays development within Belfast Harbour to a range of tenants, including ITV plc. Other highlights included advising construction company Tarmac on leasing and licensing arrangements pertaining to HBO’s use of Magheramorne Quarry as a filming location for the Game of Thrones television series and the subsequent sale of the quarry as a tourist attraction. The group also acted for the J T Ross Group in its £27m acquisition of a Tesco Superstore in Newry. Rosemary Carson leads the practice.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s property practice has ‘good strength in depth’ and provides ‘a professional service’. The group continues to act for investment funds, developers, and retail owners in high-value acquisitions, lease matters and refinancing issues. In a standout mandate in 2017, practice head Joe Marley , who garners praise for his ‘sound commercial acumen’, advised Hewlett Packard on renewing a multimillion-pound lease for premises based in Newtownabbey; this location was strategically important as it was used to host back-up systems for blue chip clients. The matter was heard before the Lands Tribunal due to a dispute with the landlord of the premises, before an agreement favourable to the client was reached. The ‘knowledgeableKathryn Collie is ‘very experienced and looks at the bigger picture’. The ‘thorough and commercially mindedAlan McAlister is noted for his experience in city centre development matters. Associate Nemonie Fulton attracts praise for her 'extensive conveyancing knowledge'.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s ‘excellent’ property team is best known for representing developers and property funds in sales and disposals across Northern Ireland. Retail mandates are a core area of expertise for the firm, with healthcare, student accommodation and housing other main areas of instruction. Practice head and retail expert Andrea McIlroy-Rose led the team assisting Asda with its acquisition of a new site in Newtownabbey and the redevelopment of superstores in Belfast and Downpatrick. In another matter, the group advised investment trust company AEW UK REIT on its £11m acquisition and subsequent redevelopment of Valley Retail Park in Newtownabbey. Other key clients include Queen’s University Belfast, MedicX Fund and Aurora Prime Retail Fund. Newly promoted partner Joanna Robinson is another key name.

Recent work for Arthur Cox Belfast’s property team includes advising developers and investors in the retail, residential and student housing sectors on a range of matters, as well as handling insolvency-related property sales and disposals. In a highlight for the team, practice head Alastair Todd advised Coca-Cola HBC NI on disposing part of its holding in Tullynacross to investment company Unicorn Asset Management; Todd also led the advice to the St Francis Group on the acquisition of a 24-acre site formerly occupied by the Hilden Mill complex. Other clients include Neptune Group, Four Seasons Healthcare, Marathon Asset Management and Tullett Prebon. Rowan White is another name to note. Gareth Planck moved to Eversheds Sutherland  in June 2017.

‘First and foremost a safe pair of hands’, Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s ‘very practical’ and ‘solution-driven’ property team provides ‘a superb service for clients’. Recent work for the group includes advising property developers and investors on high-value acquisitions, lease negotiations and refinancing matters. Highlights in 2017 included acting for Signature Living in the acquisition via a share sale of Belfast-based Scottish Mutual Building, which the client intends to turn into a hotel. Other clients include Fairfield Real Estate Finance and Moffet Property Holding. Practice head Peter McCall is ‘a highly pragmatic lawyer with an ability and desire to get the deal done’; Simon Fleming is ‘a technically excellent lawyer with a meticulous eye for detail’; and Andrew Kerr attracts praise for his ‘thorough, prompt and thoughtful advice’. Solicitor Neil McCreadie  is also recommended.

Tughans’ ‘accurate, detailed and business-focused’ team has a solid track record advising on high-profile and high-value property sales within the hotel, retail, energy and insolvency sectors, with student accommodation a growing area of activity. Highlights included acting for Randox Laboratories in the acquisition of a farm business on a 300-acre site via a share purchase, which involved a simultaneous hive up of property, a group restructure and letting and funding arrangements. David Jones leads the team, which includes Joe Moore, James Pringle and Rebecca Moffett. Consultant Phyllis Agnew is highly regarded for her expertise in development-related property mandates.

Mark Tinman is the key name at DWF, which has cornerstone expertise in retail-related mandates. Past instructions include advising household retailers and property developers with acquisitions and landlord and tenant matters. Clients have included Lidl, Poundland, Santander, Bank of Ireland, Phase 8 and Karen Millen.

Elliott Duffy Garrett’s team attracts praise for its ‘excellent knowledge’ of commercial property matters, including acquisitions, leases and insolvency-related property sales. Recent highlights include land acquisitions for multimillion-pound residential, retail and leisure developments. Stewart Nash leads the team, which includes Pierre Boitel-Gill and Leo Brown .

The property practice at Eversheds Sutherland attracts praise for its ‘excellent level of service’ and ‘very detailed and reliable advice’. The team has been advising clients from the energy, retail and finance sectors on high-value acquisitions, landlord and tenant matters and insolvency-related instructions. Highlights included advising retail company Oliver Bonas on its initial entry into the Northern Ireland market. Other clients include Ernst & Young and H2 Equity Partners. The ‘very responsive and accurate’ Gareth Planck, who joined the firm from Arthur Cox Belfast in June 2017, leads the team.

Mills Selig's ‘responsive, very experienced and knowledgeable’ property team has been busy with high-value acquisitions for development purposes across the residential, retail, office and media sectors in 2017. Highlights included Anna-Marie McAlinden advising new client IMC Cinema Group on the acquisition of all cinemas located in Northern Ireland, and assisting ITV plc with a development and lease agreement for new premises at City Quays. Practice head Anne Skeggs   (‘commercially very astute and a strong negotiator’) led advice to Tullymore House on the property aspects of the multimillion-pound sale of the Belfast-based Scottish Mutual Building via a share sale to the Signature Living Group; the property will be redeveloped into a hotel.

Housing ‘a strong team with in-depth industry knowledge’, TLT’s property practice provides a ‘first-class service’ for clients from across the energy, residential, finance, hotels and retail sectors. In a standout mandate in 2017, practice head Judith Allen led advice to Belfast-based property development company Andras House on the development and letting of premises in Belfast pertaining to the establishment of a Polish Consulate in Northern Ireland. Other key highlights in 2017 included acting for construction company Moorefield Contracts in the property aspects of a grant of a 99-year head lease to Belfast International Airport for land development for a high-profile retail scheme. Andrew Ryan is the key name for energy-related property mandates, while Kevin Murphy is noted for his experience in acquisition and disposal matters for retailers and business occupier clients. Legal director Sarah Ewing is ‘diligent, hard working and commercially aware’; she is well versed in landlord and tenant matters and residential development mandates.

Worthingtons’ ‘excellent’ property practice is best known for assisting prominent clients from the retail and telecoms sectors with contentious and non-contentious matters, including leases, acquisitions, disposals, landlord and tenant matters, and property disputes. Dixons Carphone is a key client, which the team has been advising on lease renewals and property disposal matters. Highlights in 2017 included assisting Hotel Chocolat with opening its first in-store café in Northern Ireland and advising cosmetics company Lush on leasing negotiations to open a flagship store in Belfast; the lease has been completed. Other key clients include Vodafone, O2 and The Works Stores. David Wilson heads the practice (‘his advice is pragmatic and commercially relevant’); Graham Pierce is another name to note.

Davidson McDonnell Solicitors is well known for its expertise in commercial real estate matters and has been handling office, hotel, student accommodation and retail transactions. Highlights in 2017 included acting for HMRC on leasing 100,000 sq ft of land for the development of its regional hub in Belfast and advising Ireland-based residential developer Lacuna Developments on the £4m acquisition of a site in Belfast for the purposes of a new student accommodation development. Other clients include Wirefox and Poundstretcher. Ross Davidson and David McDonnell  jointly head the team.

Past instructions for John McKee Solicitors’ commercial property team include acting for banks, developers and retailers in office, residential, transport and retail property transactions. Key clients include Nationwide Building Society, Translink, Lakeland Dairies and travel company The Lotus Group. Gerard Small leads the team, which also includes Andrea McCann, who has expertise in assisting pension trustees with the acquisition, disposal and letting of commercial properties.

Keystone Law’s property team has ‘a practical, commercial approach to resolving legal issues’ and provides ‘advice that is tailored to the matter in hand’. The group advises companies and individuals on leases and acquisitions for hotel, retail and residential developments, as well as handling landlord and tenant matters. In a standout mandate, the firm advised Belfast-based property group Kilmona on its £90m refinancing of its group banking facilities with Fairfield Real Estate Finance. Jim Houston jointly heads the practice with Danny McKay . John McMahon is another key name.


Construction

Index of tables

  1. Construction
  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 Construction 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.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WHO REPRESENTS WHO SITE

A&L Goodbody’s construction practice combines ‘excellent knowledge’ with ‘a wealth of experience’. The team handles a broad range of instructions from architects, contractors and employers, and has seen an uptick in hotel and office development and student accommodation projects. Infrastructure, energy and residential projects are other key areas of strength. The group is advising a contractor in a £16.5m student accommodation project, involving the refurbishment and extension of an existing building to provide a 343-room residence, and is assisting Oakland with the renovation and extension of two landmark office buildings in central Belfast, which is a £20m project. In another key mandate, Micaela Diver is leading advice to the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company on the procurement process for the £175m Belfast Transport Hub project. Other clients include Jurys Inn Group and Northern Ireland Housing Executive. The ‘very experiencedBrendan Fox leads the team; associate John Dugdale  attracts praise for his ‘excellent construction and litigation knowledge’.

Carson McDowell’s construction team is well known for its strength in both contentious and non-contentious matters and for its solid client base of Northern Ireland-based contractors. Port, education, housing, energy and hotel projects are notable areas of instruction for the group; practice head Stuart Murphy and associate Gavin Kerr are advising the Belfast Harbour Commissioners on the construction of the third phase of the City Quays project, as well as assisting the client with the contractual arrangements for the fourth phase of the project. Other clients include McAleer & Rushe, NIE Networks and Southern Regional College.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s corporate practice houses a ‘very capable team with sound commercial acumen, expert knowledge and an ability to offer clear advice’, according to clients. It is very well known for handling contentious construction matters and has seen an uptick in non-contentious instructions. Prominent areas of activity for the group in 2017 included infrastructure, housing, education, and leisure projects. In a recent highlight, the firm advised the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on a £3.5bn contract relating to a planned maintenance scheme for 89,000 properties. Practice head Patrick Fleming is praised for being ‘client friendly’ and ‘very hard-working’. Lisa Boyd  is recommended for her ‘real depth of knowledge in procurement and construction cases’; construction litigator Aaron Moore is ‘very sharp and focused’. Associate Julie-Ann McCaffrey-Flynn  is ‘always proactive’, ‘tries her hardest for her clients’, and is singled out for her ‘impressive ability to identify and focus on key issues’.

Tughans’ ‘knowledgeable and easy-to-work-with’ team handles the gamut of front-end construction matters and high-value disputes for a wide-ranging client base, with energy and office projects prominent areas of instruction in 2017. The group is advising Apple on the procurement of a €850m data centre, and is assisting Celtic Anglian Water with a planned €160m expansion of the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant in Dublin. In another matter, the group acts for Castleforge Partners in a high-value redevelopment of multistorey office building River House in Belfast. On the contentious side, the team is representing Northstone in a dispute with a client regarding €3m-worth of claims arising from a construction project in Romania. Practice head Michael McCord is recognised for his expertise in contentious construction matters; ‘he has an appetite for the detail in a complex case and an encyclopaedic knowledge of construction law’. The ‘practicalTim Kinney  is recommended for his experience in construction procurement work.

Arthur Cox Belfast’s ‘excellent’ practice assists employers and contractors with front-end construction work alongside contentious matters. Recent work for the team includes campus developments, housing developments and infrastructure disputes. Highlights included Dublin-based practice head Niav O'Higgins  advising Ulster University on its ongoing multimillion-pound project to build a new campus and acting for Orona regarding the £28m construction of the Titanic Hotel. In another matter, William Curry is assisting Ards and North Down Borough Council with the planned development of a £30m leisure centre; the project was subject to a public procurement competition open to all construction firms in Northern Ireland. Senior associate Cahal Carvill , who has ‘a good commercial brain and is good with the clients’, is also recommended.

Adrian Kerr leads the construction practice at Mills Selig, which has a reputation for contentious construction matters. Housing and energy mandates dominate instructions for the team; Kerr leads the advice to Clanmill Housing Association on over 40 multimillion-pound housing projects and represents Vestas in a dispute with a contractor regarding a £500,000 wind turbine project. Other key clients include residential housing company Lotus Homes.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s construction team is well known for assisting employers and contractors with front-end construction work and construction arbitration. Property partner Andrea McIlroy-Rose  is advising key client Queen’s University Belfast on the construction of two multimillion-pound educational facilities, and is assisting Allstate Northern Ireland with the construction of its new headquarters in Belfast, which is a £30m project. Senior associate Ciaran McNamara is also recommended. Ed Kelly moved to the firm’s Melbourne office in August 2017.


Planning and environment

Index of tables

  1. Planning and environment
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Maria O'Loan - Tughans
    • Andrew Ryan - TLT

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Planning and environment 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.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WHO REPRESENTS WHO SITE

Carson McDowell’s planning team ‘combines unparalleled expertise with an unsurpassed ability to deliver’, according to clients. The ‘client-focused, responsive and commercially aware’ group is very active in the infrastructure and energy sectors; recent work includes handling planning applications and judicial reviews as well as obtaining regulatory approvals for electricity pylon applications, site redevelopment for educational facilities, exploratory drilling, and road construction. In a key matter, the team represented SONI, Northern Ireland’s electricity transmission system operator, in a successful planning application for a multimillion-pound project consisting of 100 electricity pylons and a new substation to connect the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In another mandate, the group is acting for Galantas in a judicial review challenge brought against a planning application granted to the company authorising the extension of its gold mine in Omagh; the case is being heard at the Court of Appeal. On the non-contentious side, the team is advising Lake Torrent on a planning application for a £30m motor racing circuit in County Tyrone. The ‘extremely knowledgeable and experiencedGary McGhee leads the department; he attracts praise for his ‘ability to cut through complexity and deliver clean and practical advice’. Associate Sarah Dunlop , who is ‘really hard-working and extremely personable’, is also recommended. Grant McBurney made partner in June 2017.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s ‘excellent’ team has a ‘sound knowledge of the issues’ when assisting clients from the energy, real estate, minerals and infrastructure sectors - among others - with planning applications and judicial reviews. Recent instructions for the group include assisting Gaelectric with its ongoing proposed compressed air energy storage project, which involves the construction of underground caverns capable of maintaining compressed air. Key clients for the firm include Belfast City Airport, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, AES Electric, and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. The ‘very responsiveKaren Blair heads the practice.

TLT attracts praise for its ‘very good knowledge of the planning system, especially in terms of the interaction between pure planning law and environmental law, both domestic and European’. The team is advising ABO Wind NI on its planning application for the development of a £50m wind farm in the Mourne Mountains and, in a showcase of the firm’s expertise in contentious matters, the group is assisting Organic Fertilisers with a planning and waste management licensing appeal concerning its fertiliser manufacturing business near Newry. Practice head Andrew Ryan  attracts praise for his ‘excellent legal ability in the field and encyclopaedic knowledge of environmental and waste law’.

Tughans’s planning practice has ‘great knowledge’ of a wide range of sectors and a solid track record working on major projects within the utility, infrastructure and energy sectors. Practice head Maria O'Loan has been assisting Northern Ireland (NI) Water with a procurement matter regarding the purchase of renewable power for its Dunore Point Water Treatment Works; after no successful bidder was identified, the group advised NI Water on the successful procurement of land and an EPC contract in order to develop, commission and run its own solar farm for the benefit of the water treatment works. The Ulster Council Gaelic Athletic Association and Apple are other key clients of the firm.

The ‘very robust and commercially minded’ planning team at A&L Goodbody is well known for handling regulatory and non-contentious work within the real estate sector and has notable expertise in providing planning advice to councils. Key clients include Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. Property partner Mark Blair leads the team.


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