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Arthur Cox Belfast’s ‘impressive’ practice ‘leaves no stone unturned’. The handles front-end construction work for employers and contractors, as well as assisting with contentious matters. Student accommodation and campus developments have been key areas of activity, as have infrastructure disputes, shopping centre extensions and housing developments. Education-related highlights included Niav O’Higgins’ advice to Ulster University on a £132m project to build a new campus, which has involved a range of challenges including the administration of the contractor and the construction of a linked car park. O’Higgins heads the practice, which includes William Curry. Adrian Kerr left to join Mills Selig in August 2016.

Well versed in contentious and non-contentious matters, Carson McDowell’s construction team primarily acts for Northern Ireland-based contractors and has extensive experience on a range of projects, although education, housing, energy, hotel and port projects have been especially active in 2016. The firm has been assisting the Belfast Harbour Commissioners on the City Quays project, most recently acting on a major delay dispute for the City Quays Hotel as well as handling the construction of the third phase of the project. Other key mandates included advising McAleer & Rushe on the development of the 240-room Maldron Hotel in central Belfast, which is a £17m project. Contentious work continues to be an important work stream; practice head Stuart Murphy and Gavin Kerr represented John Graham Construction before the Court of Appeal in a £1m dispute over the construction of a project at Sheffield University. Other clients include Graham Asset Management and Grand Opera House.

The ‘highly personable and responsive’ team at Tughansgoes the extra mile’ for its wide-ranging client base client base, which it advises on front-end construction matters and high-value disputes. Energy, healthcare and office developments have all been key areas of activity in 2016; energy clients include Adman Civil Projects, Northstone and Invest NI. Ley infrastructure mandates included advising on the procurement of a €850m Apple data centre. On the contentious side the team represented contractor Vaughan Engineering Services on £9m-worth of claims in relation to the construction of a new critical care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast; practice head and contentious construction expert Michael McCord led the team and is praised as a ‘master of his brief; he is forensic in his ability to devise strategies and gets the best out of every situation’. Tim Kinney is recommended for his front-end expertise and for his ‘extensive knowledge’.

A&L Goodbody has ‘good knowledge of the industry’ and fields a team of ‘excellent negotiators’. The construction team represents the full range of parties, from employers to contractors and architects, and has been particularly active in housing, retail and hotel development, and infrastructure projects. Highlights included advising Connswater Homes on a £9m housing association scheme to build a 96-unit residential development. In another key mandate, recently promoted partner Micaela Diver led advice to the project managers on the procurement process for the construction of a new motorway connecting Londonderry to Dungiven. Other clients include NewRiver Retail, the Irish Football Association, and a range of architectural firms. The ‘measured and highly experiencedBrendan Fox leads the team and is a ‘practiced negotiator’; ‘skilled and responsive’ associate John Dugdale is another key name.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is best known for its contentious construction practice, which regularly represents public-sector clients and has been particularly active in education, infrastructure and entertainment projects over 2016. In a key mandate, the firm represented the Northern Ireland Housing Executive before the Court of Appeal in a dispute raised by the contractor regarding an asbestos surveying contract. Ivywood Colleges are another major client, which Aaron Moore represented in a £1m dispute with the main contractor over the completion of a further education college PPP project. Other clients include Titanic Quarter Belfast and civil engineering firm John McQuillan. Lisa Boyd is another key partner. Patrick Fleming leads the group and is praised for being ‘very professional and knowledgeable; they deliver on time’.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s construction team ‘provides an excellent service’ to employers and contractors. Front-end construction work has been a key area of activity, although the team also has expertise in construction arbitration. 2016 saw the firm act on leisure developments, student accommodation and infrastructure; highlights included advising employer Kier Property Developments on the construction of the £65m Walsall Waterfront leisure development. Queen’s University Belfast are another key client, which property partner Andrea McIlroy-Rose has been advising on the procurement for the supply of student accommodation. Ed Kelly heads the practice.

Mills Selig’s construction team was strengthened in 2016 with the addition of Adrian Kerr from Arthur Cox Belfast; he heads the practice, which is best known for its contentious construction expertise. The team has been particularly active in the housing and energy sectors; key mandates included acting for Clanmill Housing Association in an adjudication concerning a contractor claim for additional monies. The team has also been advising the same client on various housing projects with a combined value of £70m. Other key clients include contractor Graham Construction. Litigator Emma Hunt is also recommended.

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