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Arthur Cox Belfast attracts praise for its ‘excellent service and impressive array of experience’. The group handles a wide range of IT, media and entertainment, telecoms and broadcasting matters for public and private sector clients. The firm has been particularly active in public-sector IT procurement mandates; highlights included advising the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs on its procurement of a new £8.7m IT system to track the health of food animals in the country, and acting for the Fire and Rescue Authorities on a new command and control IT system for monitoring emergency calls. Other key clients include Power NI and the Northern Ireland Housing executive. Practice head William Curry attracts praise for his ability to ‘clearly articulate his advice’.

Carson McDowell is ‘a very safe pair of hands’ that is considered to be ‘among the top performers in Northern Ireland’. The team handles regulatory matters, transactions and disputes for a client base ranging from technology companies and telecommunications providers to public-sector bodies. 2016 highlights included acting for Northern Ireland Electricity Networks on a contract for the provision of ICT managed services, and advising US-based technology company Xilinx on a software development agreement to be used with freelance coders in England. Dawn McKnight leads the team and has a strong reputation for its tech-sector expertise. Associate Peter Guzhar is rated for his ‘fine legal brain, excellent client-management skills and tactical approach’.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s IT practice has an extensive track record advising public bodies and technology companies; on the public-sector front the team is advising Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council on a free wi-fi service to be implemented throughout Doncaster town centre. The group has also advised medical technology companies on licensing and exploitation of software. E-commerce and delivery service agreements have also been an important aspect of the practice, which the team has worked on in the context of major M&A. Managing partner Paul McBride leads the team, which includes Adrian Eakin and procurement expert Stuart Cairns, who has been handling IT procurement in the private sector.

A&L Goodbody attracts praise for its ‘brilliant service and detailed replies delivered swiftly’. The team acts for a wide-ranging client base, from large technology companies and engineering firms to start-ups. Biotechnology, including medical technology, has been a key area for the firm; highlights included advising Axial 3D, which provides surgeons with 3D models to aid surgery, on its funding rounds as well as on user licences and e-commerce matters. On the procurement front Micaela Diver advised Northern Ireland Co-ownership Housing Association on the procurement of a system to allow home buyers to apply online. The ‘top-notchMark Thompson and Brendan Fox co-head the team. Associate Mark Stockdale is praised for going ‘above and beyond’.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin advises technology companies on a range of corporate matters. Highlights included advising web developer Nexus Point Limited on the sale of its entire issued share capital, and assisting IVA Watch Limited, which provides proprietary database platforms to banks and other service providers, with a collaborative agreement and subsequent licensing of its database to Kessler Group. The firm also advised Humain Limited on its seed funding round. Corporate partner Scott Kennedy is the main name.

Boutique firm Forde Campbell LLC handles the full range of commercial, technology, IP and media law matters, from cross-border licensing transactions to advice on data protection. The group has a core focus on Belfast’s start-up market, where it acts for a number of app developers and cloud integration service providers. Highlights included advising OneSource Virtual on its IT service agreements and the implementation of HR and payroll workday software, and assisting Mergermarket with its subscription licensing and online data products. Matthew Forde and Rory Campbell jointly head the group, which includes IT licensing and internet data law specialist Katey Dixon.

Tughans handles transactional matters for technology companies, and also assists investment funds with their technology-related investments. Highlights included advising Kernel Capital on its investment into Causeway Sensor, a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast that manufactures chips for detecting protein levels. The group also acts for a number of IT service providers including Titan IC Systems, Sophia Search and Texthelp, which the team advised on its acquisition of an IP portfolio from GMath. Other clients include global search engines. Adrian O’Connell leads the team but a range of corporate partners are involved in these transactions including Ciara Lagan, John McGuckian and James Donnelly.

Worthingtons regularly acts for telecommunications companies on portfolio acquisitions, leases and day-to-day corporate support. A standout piece of work has been acting Mobile Broadband Network, a joint venture company established by EE Limited and Hutchison 3G UK, on the Northern Ireland aspects of its UK-wide consolidation of its radio access network. Other key clients include Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure, a joint venture between Vodafone and Telefónica, which the firm is advising on the upgrading of telecoms infrastructure to accommodate 4G signals; and AP Wireless Investments, which the firm is advising on its acquisitions of rental streams from communications sites across Northern Ireland. Key figures include partner David Wilson and solicitor Sara McGaughey.

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