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Northern Ireland

Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

The 'professional and friendly' team at Carson McDowell has a 'wide range of expertise with great depth of experience'; it has been particularly active in the media and public sectors, but has also handled contract and company, IP, procurement and competition litigation. The 'responsive and approachable' Declan Magee leads the team alongside healthcare head Roger McMillan. Hugh McGrattan heads the professional indemnity and insurance defence side of the practice, which was strengthened by the firm's recent merger with Francis J Irvine Solicitors.

Practice head(s):Declan Magee; Roger McMillan

Other key lawyers:Hugh McGrattan


'Carson McDowell is the market leader in Northern Ireland and the "go to" firm when it comes to dispute resolution. The team is prompt to respond to issues, always keeping the client fully informed of any developments and seeking to adopt a commercial and pragmatic approach to dispute resolution.'

'Hugh McGrattan is considered the pre-eminent solicitor in the dispute resolution arena, always delivering an excellent service and desirable outcome.'

'Carson McDowell's team produces consistent excellent advice promptly. The team is very experienced.'

'Hugh McGrattan and associates Shauna McAuley and Timothy Cockram give good, prompt, consistent advice, covering all aspects of claims.'

'Carson McDowell has one of the largest teams in Belfast. The multi-service practice is capable of dealing with any size of dispute, and is particularly able to resource high-value, complex or document-heavy cases.'

'Declan Magee is one of the market leaders in dispute resolution and prepared to fight his corner very hard. He is also good in leading his team, which includes a range of solicitors covering all areas of dispute resolution from insolvency to intellectual property and procurement.'

'Carson McDowell is very professional and thorough. The team is proactive and communication is consistently of a high standard. They are a great support to our office.'

'Associate Fergal McGoldrick always has a good handle on cases. He is good at listening to what you want rather than what he thinks you want.'

'Declan Magee has great depth of understanding on issues and the knowledge to address them.'

'Carson McDowell provides an excellent level of service. It has a strong in-depth team with commitment to fast response times and offers straightforward advice, avoiding wasted time and effort on futile arguments.'

'Shauna McAuley and Gillian Greenfield are both excellent associates who respond quickly, which is of course invaluable to clients. They work proactively and offer clear, no-nonsense advice in their jurisdiction.'

'The team led by Hugh McGrattan is very proactive and efficient.'

'The firm is very commercial and has the ability, strength and resources to stand out from other competitors.'

'Hugh McGrattan always makes himself available and will listen to and talk through alternative solutions. His knowledge and expertise in his practice area is second to none and he is very much respected by others.'

'Shauna McAuley is one to watch as a future leader in her field.'

'Declan Magee is approachable and empathetic. He looks beyond the obvious in pursuing the efficient resolution of commercial disputes.'

'Associates Lucy Clarke and Niamh McGuckin are strong team players who deliver to demanding timescales.'

Key Clients

Sunday Life (Independent News & Media NI)

Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland

Alpha News Group

Work highlights

  • Represented the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland (PCNI) in the Court of Appeal in Hegarty’s Application, a judicial review which considered the legality of the prisoner licence revocation process
  • Defended Independent News and Media against a libel action brought by Brian Gillen, regarding an article in which it was alleged that the plaintiff was a senior member of the IRA
  • Defended Alpha News Group against a libel action arising from the publication of a police appeal for information relating to the alleged theft of goods from a supermarket
  • Represented the PCNI in the Court of Appeal in Toal’s Application, a judicial review which considered the client's powers to call witnesses of its own motion
  • Represented Telegraph Media Group, News UK and Associated Newspapers in an action taken by one of the hackers convicted in relation to the TalkTalk hacking scandal
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

Carson McDowell has particular strength in traditional Northern Irish industries such as construction, real estate and manufacturing, as well as growing sector expertise in energy and technology and cybersecurity. The team acts for leading Northern Irish and international businesses. The 'very good' Neasa Quigley, who specialises in energy and the knowledge economy, heads the team along with M&A and finance expert Richard Gray. Gerard Armstrong and managing partner Michael Johnston are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):Neasa Quigley; Richard Gray

Other key lawyers:Gerard Armstrong; Michael Johnston


'Carson McDowell consistently provides excellence service and advice in multiple areas of corporate law in a very prompt and effective way.'

Neasa Quigley is our "go to" senior attorney. She provides expert assistance in many areas of corporate law and general counselling.’

'Carson McDowell is, in a word, exceptional. The team is always available for advice, responsive in meeting tight deadlines, and focused on the detail whilst never losing sight of the bigger picture.'

'The difference between Carson McDowell and its competitors is that you always feel that you are Carson McDowell's most important client.'

Richard Gray and dispute resolution partner Declan Magee both offer exceptional service and are highly effective in obtaining results that the clients prioritise.’

'Carson McDowell's partners understand their disciplines fully rather than pretending to and the junior staff are the equal of partner level in many larger firms in terms of ability.'

'Richard Gray and Neasa Quigley both excel in their disciplines, exude professionalism, create client confidence in their abilities and manage their own in-house teams with the minimum of fuss.'

Key Clients

SHS Group

Lagan Group Holdings


Statsport Group

Fane Valley Co-Operative Society

Wrightbus International

Eakin Healthcare Group

RiverRidge Recycling

Dalradian Resources

Work highlights

  • Represented the shareholders of the Lagan Group in the sale of their entire shareholding to Breedon Group for over £400m
  • Advised the shareholders of Lowe Rental on the exit of MML Capital and £60m equity investment by Perwyn
  • Acted for the shareholders of Prestige Insurance Holdings in relation to the sale of their majority shareholding in the company
  • Advised SHS Group on its acquisition of 3V Natural Foods
  • Advised Valero Energy on its acquisition of a petroleum storage facility business
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

Carson McDowell has experience acting on the lender and borrower side of domestic and multi-jurisdictional transactions, with a particular focus on energy and real estate finance. The team is also active in advising leading financial institutions on lending to SMEs. Highly regarded practice head Sinead McGrath advises leading banks, peer-to-peer lenders, corporates and energy suppliers, among others.

Practice head(s):Sinead McGrath

Other key lawyers:Claire McCloskey


Claire McCloskey is hard working and delivers results for clients.’

'Sinead McGrath must be the calmest lawyer I have ever worked with. She is unflappable while keeping all parties working together and focused on what needs to be delivered, despite competing priorities and conflicting opinions. A complete star.'

'Sinead McGrath is one of the top banking lawyers in Northern Ireland. She is highly experienced, commercial and easy to deal with, and has a good negotiation style - personable but firm. She inspires confidence and delivers on everything that is asked from her.'

Key Clients

Northern Ireland Investment Fund

The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland/Bank of Ireland (UK) plc

Ulster Bank Limited and Ulster Bank Ireland Designated Activity Company

Allied Irish Banks plc/AIB Group (UK) p.l.c.

Barclays Bank plc

Deutsche Bank

JP Morgan Chase

BNP Paribas

Northern Bank Limited trading as Danske Bank

Assetz Finance

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Northern Ireland Investment Fund on its first investment in Northern Ireland, which involved a £22.5m loan to Oakland Group to finance the Merchant Square redevelopment in Belfast city centre.
  • Advising AES on the terms of margin finance facilities to be provided by Macquarie Bank to support trading on the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM).

  • Advising Prestige in relation to the refinancing of existing facilities with Ulster Bank and in availing of fresh facilities to fund the acquisition of shares in Octane London Market Limited.
  • Advising Deutsche Bank AG in relation to senior and mezzanine facilities being provided to Apollo to finance the purchase of the Tifco Hotel group (with two hotels in Northern Ireland).
  • Acting for Foresight Group on the initial acquisition and thereafter the debt financing of a solar photovoltaic development in County Down.
Leading individuals

Sinead McGrath - Carson McDowell

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Insolvency and corporate recovery
Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 2

Carson McDowell

The team at Carson McDowell stands out for 'the breadth of experience, the commitment of individual lawyers and the expertise across sectors'. It advises major banks, insolvency practitioners and corporates on contentious and non-contentious matters, and has experience handling cross-jurisdictional insolvencies and personal insolvencies. 'Strong insolvency practitioner' Darren Toombs leads the team jointly with the 'technically very strong' Sinead McGrath. The team was bolstered by the appointment of two new associates.

Practice head(s):Darren Toombs; Sinead McGrath

Other key lawyers:Shane McVeigh; Oliver Tighe


'Carson McDowell has a very strong team. It is well regarded and one of the few firms to be able to deal with the most complex, difficult and high-value cases.'

'The team is technically astute with a strong commercial approach to every assignment.'

'Darren Toombs is a calm pair of hands for difficult circumstances with a very commercial approach - he is a trusted adviser.'

'Darren Toombs is very approachable and willing to think laterally to offer solutions.'

'The team is responsive and knowledgeable, provides sensible practical advice, and doesn't sit on the fence.'

'The team is very friendly, with competitive prices, value for money and very easy to work with.'

'Darren Toombs is very commercial while retaining the legal position. He works in partnership with his client, and does not just provide the legal advice but provides overall strategic advice.'

Key Clients


Grant Thornton

Keenan Corporate Finance

The HNH Group

Brodies LLP

Sports Direct

Herbert Smith

Browne Jacobson

VW Financial Services

BMW Financial Services

Work highlights

  • Advising Sports Direct on the Northern Irish aspects of the acquisition of House of Fraser from the administrators of the business.
  • Acting as agents in Northern Ireland for Browne Jacobson LLP to assist NRG2 / Radius Plastics Limited with its application to the Bankruptcy Court in Northern Ireland for permission for several directors to be permitted to continue in their roles as directors of various group companies following director disqualification proceedings in England.
  • Advising Gibraltar-based Castle Trust Group as a security trustee on the sufficiency and enforceability of security given in relation to £3m of loan notes issued by Charis Wealth Management to various individuals essentially as an investment opportunity.
  • Acting as agent in Northern Ireland for Brodies LLP to assist Oil States Industries (UK) Limited in a claim against Lagan Building Contractors Limited (in administration) and associated parties for £15m.
  • Advising KPMG on the validation of its appointment as joint administrator of McGrath Brothers Engineering Group Limited.

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Northern Ireland: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell's 'excellent' team is noted for its 'knowledge and availability'. It acts for leading local, UK-wide and Republic of Ireland companies, advising on a wide range of contentious employment matters, as well as non-contentious and corporate employment law. 'Outstanding' practice head Orlagh O'Neill specialises in contentious employment, with particular expertise in grievance and whistleblowing investigations, while Rachel Penny's areas of strength include TUPE and restructuring matters.

Practice head(s):Orlagh O'Neill

Other key lawyers:Rachel Penny; Sarah Cochrane; Leona Rankin


'There is an exceptional depth and breadth of relevant experience across the team, in terms of both partners and associates.'

'Rachel Penny is simply outstanding: highly commercial, highly practical, and very attentive to the nuances of specific cases. She is great to deal with and a real people person.'

'Leona Rankin is very attentive, with very keen eye for detail, highly responsive and exceptionally professional.'

'The team provides sound, pragmatic advice and solutions in a timely manner, even in some complex scenarios.'

'Orlagh O'Neill consistently and speedily provides sound advice and assistance which is both practical and solution focused. It is always a pleasure to work with her.'

Key Clients

Royal Mail Group


Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Santander UK Plc

Statsport Group Limited

Ulster Orchestra

Ulster University

Tayto Group Limited

Hewlett Packard

Invest NI

Work highlights

  • Advising the shareholders of Prestige Insurance Holdings Limited (which owns Northern Ireland’s leading insurance broker, Abbey) on the employment aspects of the sale of a majority shareholding in the company to Capital Z Partners Management, LLC.
  • Advising SHS Group Limited on the employment-related aspects of the acquisition of 3V Natural Foods Limited.
  • Assisting Royal Mail with a wide range of advice on employment, discrimination and equality matters and defending the client against claims in the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals.
  • Advising Translink on employment law matters such as grievances and disciplinaries and defending the client against tribunal claims.
  • Advising Ulster University on immediate employment issues such as performance management and appraisal, equal opportunity procedures, harassment, bullying, disability discrimination and termination of employment procedures, as well as representing the client in tribunal claims.
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 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell has strengthened its insurer client base following its merger with niche defence firm Francis J Irvine; it also acts for a range of large employers, public bodies, healthcare professionals and medical defence organisations. 'The market leader in Belfast in clinical negligence', the team also has extensive experience in industrial disease, marine personal injury and fatal accident claims. Roger McMillan heads the healthcare team, while Jacqueline McAleese leads the clinical negligence claims team. Claire Harmer, who heads the defence litigation department, is noted for her inquest expertise.

Practice head(s):Roger McMillan; Claire Harmer

Other key lawyers:Jacqueline McAleese


'The ultimate one-stop shop for medical practitioners seeking legal assistance in Northern Ireland. The team has a unique and unrivalled strength in depth in every facet of medical law, be it clinical negligence or regulatory. They are unique in their absolute commitment to the client's cause, leaving no stone unturned in defending breach or causation.'

'Roger McMillan is the top clinical negligence defence lawyer in Northern Ireland. He stands out for his absolute unwavering dedication to client care. He brings a dogged determination to the defence of his clients which is unrivalled not only in Northern Ireland but across the UK. He is totally on top of the law, with a razor-sharp intellect and superb analytical and tactical skills which achieve outstanding results for clients.'

'Jacqueline McAleese is superb with clients and extremely thorough.'

'The team is very well-organised, commercially minded and provides high-quality in-depth legal analysis with clear recommendations.'

'Jacqueline McAleese is an excellent lawyer who is always willing to go the extra mile to secure great results for her clients.'

'There is no doubt that this is the strongest clinical negligence team in Belfast.'

'Roger McMillan is one of the best practitioners in Belfast in clinical negligence.'

'Associate Laura Menary has very strong technical expertise and is particularly good at clinical negligence defence litigation.'

'Jacqueline McAleese is highly experienced in clinical negligence. She is very competent and has huge technical knowledge.'

'The team has a clear understanding of insurer clients' needs and the insurance market and cycles, with a focus on indemnity spend and ultimate costs.'

'The team has expertise in marine personal injury and industrial disease claims, and is quick to respond, friendly and easy to work with.'

'Claire Harmer and associate Cathal O'Neill know their stuff, will always respond quickly and take into account commercial as well as legal issues.'

'It is a team of very capable lawyers offering a broad range of expertise within the field of employers' liability and public liability defence litigation. What makes them stand out, however, is their ability to assess each matter both as a standalone claim, but also in the context of any wider impact such claims may have on their client company.'

'The team stands out for its provision of expert legal advice covering a wide range of circumstances; clear desire to understand the environment within which its client company operates; and availability and willingness to talk through individual issues on an ad-hoc basis.'

'The team has sound and detailed technical knowledge of all aspects of litigation, fast response times, and is prepared to go the extra mile.'

'Claire Harmer is technically very knowledgeable: she does not need to constantly rely on counsel and engenders confidence in her decision-making ability. Claire is very personable and approachable, building strong relationships with large corporate clients. She is able to grasp the issues and relay them succinctly, in layman's terms.'

'The team is professional, reliable, approachable and knowledgeable in its field.'

'The whole team is technically strong and gives clear and sensible advice. They are commercially aware and I trust and value their views.'

'Jacqueline McAleese is an exceptional lawyer. Her advice and tactical awareness cannot be faulted.'

Key Clients

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Chain Reaction Cycles

Axis Capital Insurance

Enstar Insurance

Willis Towers Watson

Sedgwick (formerly Cunningham Lindsey)

Faraday Insurance

Riverstone Insurance

Davies Casualty/Garwyn

TT Club/Thomas Millar Claims Management

Crawford & Co Loss Adjusters/Broadspire

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd

Beale & Co

McLarens Loss Adjusters

Travelers Insurance

Stena Line

IF P&C Insurance

DW Sports

London P&I Club

Terex GB Ltd


Medical Protection Society

Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

Dental Protection

National Pharmaceutical Association

Association of Optometrists

Beazley Group

Work highlights

  • Advising Axis Capital on an employers' liability claim on behalf of a local shipping services provider.
  • Representing Beale & Co in the defence of a high-value claim relating to an RTA.
  • Acting for Northern Ireland Electricity Networks in a wide variety of employers' liability and public liability claims.
  • Acting for Allianz in a claim brought by a minor plaintiff against the client's policyholder, who had struck the plaintiff with his vehicle.
  • Acting for the London P&I Club in an employers’ liability claim in which the plaintiff alleged that he developed asbestos-induced asbestosis due to working conditions.
Leading individuals

Roger McMillan - Carson McDowell

Next Generation Partners

Claire Harmer - Carson McDowell

Jacqueline McAleese - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Private client

Personal tax, trusts and probate
Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell's 'highly efficient, compassionate and highly motivated team' has particular strength in advising on high-value, complex estate planning and administration, and also handles contentious probate matters. In addition to high-net-worth individuals, the team acts for the trustees of several high-value trusts and regularly advises clients with assets in the Republic of Ireland and further abroad. Practice head Neil Bleakley and associate Fiona Kirkpatrick, who has expertise in trust administrations, are 'leaders in their field'.

Practice head(s):Neil Bleakley

Other key lawyers:Fiona Kirkpatrick; Oliver Tighe


'The team has a considered approach plus attention to detail. They deliver work in a timely and efficient way and are proactive in easing the burden of personal estate administration. They have good client relationships.'

'The firm is uniquely placed due to the size and variety of its offering. Not only is there a very credible private client team, but private clients can also avail themselves of a wide variety of legal offerings in house.'

'Neil Bleakley and Fiona Kirkpatrick are first class in terms of their attention to probate files. All is dealt with extremely efficiently and in a timely manner.'

'Carson McDowell is a well-respected local firm. Both Neil Bleakley and Fiona Wallace are methodical, diligent and conscientious and clients are impressed with their approachable and professional manner.'

'Neil Bleakley surrounds himself with a quality team of high-calibre individuals. He is very knowledgeable and keeps the language simple when dealing with clients, who can typically be bombarded with jargon that means very little.'

'Carson McDowell offers an excellent service and can be relied upon to address matters in a timely fashion. The individual strengths of the firm's staff include a proactive approach with a style that is professional but approachable.'

Leading individuals

Neil Bleakley - Carson McDowell

Rising stars

Fiona Kirkpatrick - Carson McDowell

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Northern Ireland: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell has advised on a range of significant regional energy projects, including the construction of gas distribution networks and power stations, and the sale, acquisition and project financing of wind turbine and AD projects. The team has recently expanded its client base to include a number of energy sector businesses and utilities companies. Practice head Neasa Quigley specialises in M&A and equity funding in the sector. Gary McGhee and Emma Cooper advise on the planning and property aspects of energy projects.

Practice head(s):Neasa Quigley

Other key lawyers:Gary McGhee; Emma Cooper

Key Clients

Simple Power Limited

Northern Ireland Networks Limited

Evermore Energy

Firmus Energy

System Operator for Northern Ireland

Renewable Energy Systems Limited

Scotia Gas Networks Limited

Elgin Energy

Click Energy

Connective Energy

Work highlights

  • Representing the owners of Simple Power Limited, which has the largest portfolio of 250k single wind turbines in Northern Ireland, in its sale to Foresight Group.
  • Acting for Northern Ireland Electricity Networks on its £350m bond issue to support an investment programme.
  • Advising the supply and distribution sides of the Firmus Energy business across a broad range of energy-related matters.
  • Advising SONI on the North-South Interconnector project connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • Advising Renewable Energy Systems on the judicial review of a planning decision in respect of its proposed seven-turbine wind farm (known as Barr Cregg wind farm).
Leading individuals

Neasa Quigley - Carson McDowell

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

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell regularly acts for funders on significant projects in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK, as well as in the Republic of Ireland. The team has been active in the energy sector, and has also advised on a range of infrastructure, education and healthcare sector transactions. Practice head Gerard Armstrong is noted for his expertise in large-scale infrastructure and PFI/PPP projects, while Neasa Quigley specialises in energy.

Practice head(s):Gerard Armstrong

Other key lawyers:Neasa Quigley

Key Clients

O’Hare & McGovern Limited

Belfast Metropolitan College

Amey Roads

Dalradian Resources

Heron Bros

Valero Energy

Northern Ireland Networks Limited

Firmus Energy

System Operator for Northern Ireland

Belfast Educational Services

Work highlights

  • Advising Amey Roads in relation to the DBFO 2 Roads Scheme, the largest roads project in Northern Ireland.
  • Advising Belfast Metropolitan College on the BMC PPP Project to design and build a new college.
  • Acting for Valero Energy on its acquisition of a petroleum storage facility business.
  • Advising GPG Lisburn in relation to a project for the construction of a new  primary and community care centre at Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn.
  • Acting for the shareholders of Simple Power Limited in relation to the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to Foresight Group.
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 has 'comprehensive knowledge' and a 'client-friendly approach'. The team advises on local and international investments and major developments in the region, and is noted for its extensive experience in the retail sector, acting for a significant number of retail tenants as well as the landlords of shopping centres and retail parks. Dawson McConkey took over as head of the practice in 2018, following Rosemary Carson's move to a consultancy role; both he and Emma Cooper have particular expertise in the energy sector.

Practice head(s):Dawson McConkey

Other key lawyers:Emma Cooper; Rosemary Carson


'The team has outstanding knowledge of commercial property law.'

'They offer very professional, down-to-earth advice.'

Key Clients

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Belfast International Airport

McAleer & Rushe Group


Bywater Group

Northern Ireland Investment Fund

Royal Mail Group

RES Group

Sports Direct Group

Turkington Group

Work highlights

  • Advised the shareholders of the Lagan Group on the sale of the entire building materials group to Breedon Holdings (Jersey) Limited, a member of Breedon Group Plc.
  • Advising Belfast Harbour Commissioners on the acquisition of the Obel Office Block, one of the landmark buildings in Belfast, which was the year's largest standalone commercial property acquisition in Belfast city centre.
  • Advised Northern Ireland Investment Fund on the financing of the development of one of Belfast's largest city centre office blocks, the client's first loan into Northern Ireland.
  • Advised Valero Logistics UK on a significant multimillion-pound acquisition of a fuel terminal.
  • Acted for the Israeli-based Fattal Hotels Group in its £800m acquisition of a leading chain of hotels across the British Isles for £800m.
Leading individuals

Dawson McConkey - Carson McDowell

Emma Cooper - Carson McDowell

Rosemary Carson - Carson McDowell

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Construction - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell is particularly active in advising on large construction projects in the social housing, energy, education and ports sectors. In addition to local work, the team has acted on significant developments in Great Britain, including university and office projects. Clients include a number of housing associations, as well as leading Northern Irish contractors. Practice head Stuart Murphy handles both contentious and non-contentious matters, while Kerry Teahan leads the firm's procurement offering.

Practice head(s):Stuart Murphy

Other key lawyers:Kerry Teahan; Gavin Kerr


'Carson McDowell is a well-established practice that has grown significantly in the past number of years. We have enjoyed an excellent service from a number of the specialisms with the firm, particularly construction and real estate.'

'Gavin Kerr is a highly diligent solicitor who applies a common-sense approach to negotiations in the best interests of his clients. Gavin has excellent experience and a thorough understanding of the complexities of the construction contracts and how this relates to the challenges of the real estate market.'

Key Clients

John Graham Construction Ltd

Southern Regional College

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

McAleer & Rushe


Actavo (NI)

Choice Housing Association

Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council

Ulster University

J.H. Turkington & Sons Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Belfast Harbour Commissioners (BHC) on the £250m City Quays development at Belfast Harbour.
  • Advised BHC on the redevelopment of the Victoria Terminal 2 (VT2), a major new ferry terminal.
  • Advised Southern Regional College on the development of three new campuses in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.
  • Advising JH Turkington & Sons on the refurbishment and extension of a former B&Q store in Craigavon to create a number of new retail units.
  • Representing Radius in High Court proceedings in relation to defects in a major social housing development in Newtownards.
Leading individuals

Stuart Murphy - Carson McDowell

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Planning and environment
Planning and environment - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell advises on a range of high-profile planning and environment matters, including planning applications for large developments, judicial reviews of planning decisions, and public inquiries. The team is highly active advising major Northern Irish companies in relation to projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors, as well as residential and commercial developments. Gary McGhee leads an experienced team, which includes Grant McBurney and associate Sarah Dunlop. The practice was strengthened by the arrival of associate Kate McCusker from Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

Practice head(s):Gary McGhee

Other key lawyers:Grant McBurney; Sarah Dunlop; Kate McCusker


'Carson McDowell is the leading practice in Northern Ireland. The team offers timely, informed advice, supported by its extensive knowledge and experience. Advice is not just given, but is delivered in a transparent, concise fashion. The team clearly take a pride in their work and seek at all times to deliver the best for their clients.'

'What makes the staff stand out is their passion for the work at hand and desire to deliver. In particular, Gary McGhee leads the team with an assured manner and clarity of purpose that infuses the team and clients with confidence. His knowledge of the local market and relevant legislation and case law is exceptional.'

'Solicitor Faye Phillips also exudes confidence that matches her knowledge and capabilities. Faye co-ordinates clients and experts with a clear focus on the delivery of quality product and results.'

Key Clients

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Belfast International Airport

Northern Ireland Electricity / SONI


Ards & North Down Council

Elgin Energy

Southern Regional College

John Hogg Operational Limited

Lough Neagh Sand Traders

Swinford (Sirocco) Limited


Work highlights

  • Advising John Hogg Operational on obtaining planning permission for the new Game of Thrones studio attraction in Banbridge, County Down.
  • Advising SONI in relation to the development of the cross-border North-South electricity interconnector project.
  • Advising Indaver on judicial review proceedings challenging the lawfulness of planning permission granted for a waste incinerator in Newtownabbey.
  • Advising Southern Regional College on the successful acquisition of planning permission for a new £45m college in Craigavon, County Armagh.
  • Advising Swinford on the planning application for a £400m mixed-use development on a riverfront site in Belfast city centre.
Leading individuals

Gary McGhee - Carson McDowell

Next Generation Partners

Grant McBurney - Carson McDowell

Rising stars

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 advises on contentious and non-contentious IT matters, including the negotiation of software licensing agreements and ICT managed services contracts, the development of bespoke software solutions, and the implications of GDPR. The team's clients include foreign companies with IT support operations in the region, large IT operators and local IT sector start-ups, and it also has a growing cyber security client base. The highly regarded Dawn McKnight co-leads the team with joint corporate head Neasa Quigley.

Practice head(s):Dawn McKnight; Neasa Quigley

Key Clients

Atto Partners

ISDM Solutions Limited

Ansec IA

Xilinx Inc

Modern Democracy Limited

Raptor Photonics


Nihon Cyber

Acidy Ltd

Work highlights

  • Assisting Atto by modifying its current contracts, advising on its obligations under GDPR regulations, and advising on the appropriate form of a hosting agreement to manage risk
  • Advising ISDM Solutions on global agreements, such as a services agreement with Intercept Pharma Europe for the provision of audio/visual solutions
  • Advising Belfast International Airport in relation to the procurement of aviation security services, which involved securing the continued right to use existing software incorporated into the technology at the airport
  • Advising Ulster University on all tech-related matters and on the technology spin-outs of Innovation Ulster Limited, as well as IT-related supply arrangements
  • Advising Modern Democracy Limited, a company which specialises in the development of polling software, on drafting a software licence agreement to use with various government bodies
Leading individuals

Dawn McKnight - Carson McDowell

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Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 1

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell advises on the full range of IP rights, including copyright, patents, trade marks, know-how and commercially sensitive information. In addition, the firm handles IP litigation, particularly patent and copyright infringement proceedings. The team has been highly active advising foreign clients with R&D facilities in Northern Ireland, and has growing expertise in software licensing, ICT managed services and technology transfer issues. Declan Magee and Dawn McKnight head the contentious and non-contentious sides of the practice, respectively, and Peter Guzhar is highly recommended for IP litigation, particularly patent infringement.

Practice head(s):Declan Magee; Dawn McKnight

Other key lawyers:Peter Guzhar


'We were impressed by the speed with which Peter Guzhar responded and identified the core technical issues.'

Key Clients

University of Ulster

Eakin Healthcare Group

Denman International

Vuelos Baratos


Ansec IA

Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment



Blue Clarity Consultancy

Work highlights

  • Providing a general IP support service for Innovation Ulster (a wholly owned subsidiary of University of Ulster for IP and technology transfer-related activities).
  • Providing ongoing advice to Sisaf on IP matters such as a patent and know-how licence agreement entered into with Soterios Limited regarding the development of alopecia treatment drugs using Sisaf’s IP rights.
  • Advising the University of Ulster on a range of IP matters, including a consortium agreement with various other further education institutions to govern the use of funds as part of a research grant. This involved ensuring the client's background IP was fully protected and that it would fully own all foreground IP which it developed.
  • Acting for Cosyroof Ireland in a trade mark infringement case which involved a competitor using the client's trade mark in its domain name.
  • Advising Denman International on taking a full assignment of the IP of "Weaveaze", a product which it had had a licence to manufacture and sell for a number of years.
Next Generation Partners

Peter Guzhar - Carson McDowell

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