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MURRAY HOUSE, MURRAY STREET, BELFAST, BT1 6DN, NORTHERN IRELAND
Tel:
Work 028 9024 4951
Fax:
Fax 028 9024 5768
DX:
403 NR-BELFAST
Email:
Web:
www.carson-mcdowell.com

Northern Ireland

Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell ’s disputes practice provides ‘an excellent level of service’, as well as ‘straightforward advice’ relating to construction, insurance, media, energy and administrative disputes, among others. Highlights for 2017 included the ‘determined litigatorDeclan Magee defending the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland in a judicial review made by a life sentence prisoner challenging the decision not to release him from custody; the defence was successful. Other clients include Belfast International Airport, the National Trust and Translink. McGee leads the practice with Roger McMillan , who is well known for his expertise in healthcare matters. The ‘knowledgeableHugh McGrattan acts for insurers and is a key name for professional negligence cases.

Leading individuals

Declan Magee - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and M&A
Corporate and M&A - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

The corporate practice at Carson McDowell has been particularly busy with buy-side mandates for clients from the technology, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, notably on private equity-related investment matters. In a key transaction, Neasa Quigley led advice to technology company Options regarding a $100m investment by New York-based private equity fund Bregal Sagemount. Gerard Armstrong assisted Davy UK with its acquisition of Danske Bank’s wealth management business, involving the transfer of over 1,000 customer investment portfolios. In another standout deal, the firm acted for Dalradian Resources in a C$78m private placement financing with Orion Mine Finance Fund II and Osisko Gold Royalties. Other clients include Helm Housing Association, the Aegion Corporation and Vinci Energies UK. Quigley jointly heads the team with Richard Gray.

The corporate practice at Carson McDowell has been particularly busy with buy-side mandates for clients from the technology, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, notably on private equity-related investment matters. In a key transaction, Neasa Quigley led advice to technology company Options regarding a $100m investment by New York-based private equity fund Bregal Sagemount. Gerard Armstrong assisted Davy UK with its acquisition of Danske Bank’s wealth management business, involving the transfer of over 1,000 customer investment portfolios. In another standout deal, the firm acted for Dalradian Resources in a C$78m private placement financing with Orion Mine Finance Fund II and Osisko Gold Royalties. Other clients include Helm Housing Association, the Aegion Corporation and Vinci Energies UK. Quigley jointly heads the team with Richard Gray.

The corporate practice at Carson McDowell has been particularly busy with buy-side mandates for clients from the technology, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, notably on private equity-related investment matters. In a key transaction, Neasa Quigley led advice to technology company Options regarding a $100m investment by New York-based private equity fund Bregal Sagemount. Gerard Armstrong assisted Davy UK with its acquisition of Danske Bank’s wealth management business, involving the transfer of over 1,000 customer investment portfolios. In another standout deal, the firm acted for Dalradian Resources in a C$78m private placement financing with Orion Mine Finance Fund II and Osisko Gold Royalties. Other clients include Helm Housing Association, the Aegion Corporation and Vinci Energies UK. Quigley jointly heads the team with Richard Gray.

Leading individuals

Michael Johnston - Carson McDowell

Neasa Quigley - Carson McDowell

Richard Gray - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

The ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ finance group at Carson McDowell  assists lenders and borrowers with financings and securitisation transactions for clients from the real estate, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors. Housing and agri-food mandates are growing areas of instruction; highlights included acting for Barclays in taking security over a £38m facility for 13 separate housing schemes from two prominent housing associations in Northern Ireland, and assisting the Hilton Food Group with the financing of its £80.8m acquisition of fish processor Icelandic Seachill. In a showcase of its refinancing expertise, the team acted for JPMorgan Chase, a member of a syndicate of lenders, as Northern Ireland counsel on the €600m refinancing of Valeo Foods. Other highlights included advising Skipton on the Northern Ireland aspects of the £220m sale of a portfolio of 1,600 residential UK mortgages to a fund managed by a global investment management firm. Sinead McGrath heads the practice, which also includes senior associate Graeme McKee and associate Naomi Gaston.

Leading individuals

Sinead McGrath - Carson McDowell

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Insolvency and corporate recovery
Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell ’s team provides ‘pragmatic and commercial advice’ on a range of insolvency cases, for clients ranging from accountancy firms and lenders to individuals and distressed companies. Recent work for the firm included high-profile administrations, debt recovery issues and bankruptcies across the healthcare, construction and professional sport sectors. In a key mandate, the group is advising longstanding client Grant Thornton, as administrator of a local trading company, on challenges to the former directors of the trading company, a property unit trust and a local Irish League football club concerning transactions taking place before the insolvency proceedings involving the recovery of a multimillion-pound loan from the trust. Other clients include Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland and the Lakesmere Group. Sinead McGrath leads the team with the ‘very knowledgeable and responsiveDarren Toombs, who is well known for his debt recovery expertise, and senior associate Graeme McKee, who has particular experience in distressed property sales.

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Northern Ireland: Human resources

Employment
Employment - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell’s employment practice provides an ‘excellent service’ across a wide spectrum of matters, including discrimination and equality claims, TUPE issues, unfair dismissal claims and advisory and regulatory work. The client base includes well-known Northern Ireland-based companies as well as international entities from a range of sectors, including logistics, finance, food production, technology and transportation. The firm has successfully defended key client Royal Mail Group in a number of claims concerning unfair dismissal, discrimination, breach of contract and harassment. Other clients include the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, Ulster University and Xilinx. Litigation expert Orlagh O'Neill leads the ‘highly responsive and knowledgeable’ team. Rachel Penny is ‘extremely knowledgeable, clever, practical and approachable’ and is noted for her expertise in TUPE matters, redundancies and reorganisations. Associate Sarah Cochrane has notable experience in corporate employment matters.

Leading individuals

Orlagh O'Neill - Carson McDowell

Rachel Penny - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Insurance

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant
Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant - ranked: tier 2

Carson McDowell

Industrial disease claims, catastrophic motor accidents and employer and public liability cases are key areas of instruction for Carson McDowell’s personal injury and healthcare practice, which is also adept at handling high-value healthcare claims. Claire Harmer, who is highly recommended for her expertise in industrial disease and inquests, heads the personal injury practice; the group represents companies in catastrophic injury and related criminal investigations. Recent clients include Faraday Insurance and Riverstone Insurance. Senior associate Catherine Carton has experience in defending clients in personal injury litigation resulting from motor claims and industrial disease cases, and senior associate Niall Skelton is well versed in representing the Motor Insurance Bureau in road traffic accident claims. On the healthcare side, Roger McMillan , who is singled out for his ‘superb client care’, heads the team, in which Jacqueline McAleese  (‘hardworking and a tough negotiator’) is a key name for defending medical and dental practitioners and clinicians in litigation, and is well known for representing the Medical Protection Society.

Leading individuals

Roger McMillan - Carson McDowell

Next generation lawyers

Claire Harmer - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Private client

Personal tax, trusts and probate
Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell’s private client team provides 'an excellent service and can be relied upon to address matters in a timely fashion.' The group assists high-net-worth clients with non-contentious and contentious high-value estate planning, often in the multimillion-pound range and frequently involving financial provision claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) (NI) Order 1979. The practice is noted for its extensive experience in representing trustees in high-profile trust administrations. Other matters handled by the team include registering enduring powers of attorney and providing tax advice. Practice head Neil Bleakley has ‘a proactive approach’ and displays ‘thorough knowledge’. Associate Fiona Wallace ‘interacts very well with clients’.

Leading individuals

Neil Bleakley - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy
Energy - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell’s ‘excellent’ energy practice is very well known for handling a broad spectrum of energy-related matters for a number of Northern Ireland’s leading energy players. The group is noted for its expertise in mandates relating to renewable energy, electricity and gas, and represents clients in acquisitions, transactions and the developmental aspects of energy projects. In recent highlights, the ‘very responsive’ team acted for AES UK & Ireland in the sale of Cloghan Point Oil Terminal to energy company LCC Group, and assisted Air Core with refinancing nine separate wind turbine sites. In a different matter, the practice advised Vinci Energies on its acquisition of electrical engineering company Meldrum, which supplies electricity to nuclear sites. SONI is another key client for the firm. M&A and financing expert Neasa Quigley leads the team, which includes the ‘commercially astute’ energy planning expert Gary McGhee and Dawson McConkey, who uses his ‘vast and detailed knowledge of Northern Ireland land law’ to handle the real estate aspects of renewable energy projects.

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Project finance and PFI
Project finance and PFI - ranked: tier 2

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell’s team has a solid track record in representing contractors in PPP mandates; the team is assisting McLaughlin & Harvey as a member of the Creating Connections (C3) consortium which was awarded the contract for the Ayrshire College Kilmarnock Campus NPD project. On the project finance side, Neasa Quigley is leading the advice to Belfast Power on the £280m financing of a 480MW combined cycle power plant in Belfast Harbour. Practice head Gerard Armstrong is widely recognised for his PPP/PFI expertise.

Leading individuals

Gerard Armstrong - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Real estate

Commercial property
Commercial property - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

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.

Leading individuals

Rosemary Carson - Carson McDowell

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Construction
Construction - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

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.

Leading individuals

Stuart Murphy - Carson McDowell

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Planning and environment
Planning and environment - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

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.

Leading individuals

Gary McGhee - Carson McDowell

Next generation lawyers

Grant McBurney - Carson McDowell

Sarah Dunlop - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

IT and telecoms
IT and telecoms - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell has a solid track record assisting technology companies, public sector bodies, retail companies and telecoms providers with regulatory matters, transactions and disputes, and has seen an uptick in instructions from start-ups. The group is advising Innovation Ulster, the technology company owned by Ulster University, on its investment in NeuroCONCISE Medical’s brain computer interface invention, a wearable neurotechnology that interprets brainwaves and translates them into control signals so the wearer can interact with computers without moving; the invention is aimed at helping people with brain injuries. Other clients include Go Testify and AMMI Systems. The ‘approachable and knowledgeableDawn McKnight leads the team and is well known for her expertise in tech-related mandates. Peter Guzhar made partner in May 2017.

Leading individuals

Dawn McKnight - Carson McDowell

Next generation lawyers

Peter Guzhar - Carson McDowell

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Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell’s IP expertise ranges from M&A-related IP work to patent agreements, infringements, licensing rights, software protection and ownership management. The group’s client base includes IT and technology companies, healthcare entities, educational bodies, energy companies, infrastructure providers and retailers. The team is advising Independent News and Media on expanding its trade mark portfolio by registering new marks to protect its existing brands as part of its IP activities in Northern Ireland. Other highlights included assisting biopharmaceutical company SiSaf with entering into a patent and know-how licence agreement with another biopharmaceutical entity for developing plaque psoriasis treatment drugs through using SiSaf’s IPR. The firm also acts for US technology company Xilinx, the University of Ulster, and Firmus Energy. Dawn McKnight  leads the team, which also includes Declan Magee and Peter Guzhar, who are well known for acting on contentious IP mandates. Consultant Eileen Moughan left the firm in December 2017.

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