According to one client, A&L Goodbody is ‘the top law firm in Northern Ireland’, and with its leading corporate practice in Dublin is an ideal choice for 'island of Ireland' deals, such as its lead role for SHV Energy on its acquisition of 60% of the share capital of Energy Metrics Monitoring and Management, which covered both jurisdictions. Alastair Keith leads the team and alongside all-Ireland deals, is also active in corporate deals across the Great Britain and mainland Europe markets. Peter Stafford chairs the Belfast office and is highly skilled in handling private equity and inward investment transactions. Other corporate partners of note include Mark Thompson, who is well known in the media, energy and healthcare sectors, and David Rowan, who specialises in the energy, technology and agri-food industries.
Corporate and M&A in Northern Ireland
Other key lawyers:
Peter Stafford; Mark Thompson; David Rowan
‘David Rowan has always given us the most professional advice – his consistent ability to “speak truth to power” is a trait that is highly valued by my business partners and I.’
‘A&L Goodbody in Belfast is the top law firm in Northern Ireland. They have strength and depth across all service lines.’
‘Peter Stafford is calm, commercial and a pleasure to work with. The go-to person for all corporate matters in Northern Ireland, with a wealth of experience.’
‘Alastair Keith – a very strong corporate lawyer who brings huge experience to the table.’
‘They have vast experience; they work as a team to ensure that the client receives the best possible advice. We have worked on several complex transactions and the service has been fantastic. The corporate and commercial teams are innovative and forward-thinking we have seen them integrate new technology during the Covid lockdown, which has ensured a seamless service throughout.’
‘David Rowan has been a fantastic leader, working across several teams to deliver complex documentation under time pressure – his ability to coordinate multiple team members and ensure delivery in a timely manner sets both David and the ALG team apart from its peers.’
SHV Energy N.V.
Mzuri Holdings Limited
Devenish (NI) Limited
The Old Bushmills Distillery Company
Irish Football Association
Haldane Fisher Limited
Green Lizard Technologies Limited
Cumulus NeuroScience Limited (formerly BrainwaveBank)
Riot Games Inc
Highwire Press Inc
MJM IOM Holdings Limited
- Advised SHV Energy on its acquisition of 60% of the issued share capital of Energy Metrics Monitoring and Management Limited.
- Advised Mzuri Holdings which received a £10m investment from the Business Growth Fund.
- Advised BrainWaveBank Limited on its investment rounds.
A ‘highly regarded all-island firm’, Arthur Cox Belfast is particularly prominent in the agri-food, technology, manufacturing and retail sectors. The team advises on an array of major local deals as well as acting on the Northern Irish aspects of multi-jurisdictional matters. This is reflected in practice head Lynsey Mallon’s recent workload, which involved advising major wholesaler Musgraves on its acquisition of several local retail outlets, as well as acting as local counsel to Agro Merchants Group on its global sale to Americold Realty Trust. Northern Ireland chairman Alan Taylor regularly assists with M&A and restructurings, often with a cross-border element.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team we work with led by Lynsey Mallon have been thoroughly professional in all our dealings with them, when needed in the last year. Competency, capability, legal knowledge, punctuality, receptiveness, engagement, understanding of client requirements, advice and advocacy have all been excellent.’
‘Partners are always available at the outset of the project. Partners establish the best team to complete the project and maintain their input throughout. The firm works well other advisers ’
‘The main individuals I work with are Alan Taylor and Lynsey Mallon. Both have fantastic knowledge of our company and supported and advised on all aspects of our strategy.’
‘Highly regarded all-island firm with refreshed Belfast practice with a highly commercial focus.’
‘Alan Taylor is our lead partner. Has helped with corporate tax restructuring exercise, and family trust matters.
‘The people are very down to earth and are good at explaining legal issues in laymans terms’
‘Lynsey Mallon and Richard Armstrong – great commercial knowledge and understanding their clients needs’
‘Lynsey Mallon is exceptional. Commercially astute. Friendly and very commercial. ’
‘The team are always available when required and the fact the partners we deal with have been with the firm for a numbers of years is helpful in terms of continuity. ’
Agro Merchants Group / Oaktree Capital Management, L.P.
Sunrise Medical Holdings Limited
Re-Vana Therapeutics Ltd
Spirit Aerosystems, Inc
Arena Capital Partners Limited
Intertoll Europe Zrt
Wind NI Limited
- Advised on the Northern Irish law aspects of sale of the entire Agro Group to Americold Realty Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded real estate investment trust.
- Advised Musgrave Retail Partners NI Limited on all aspects of its acquisition and sale (whether via business or share acquisition) of multiple retail businesses across Northern Ireland.
- Advised Sunrise Medical Holdings on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of James Leckey Design Limited.
As a leading Belfast firm, Carson McDowell has longstanding experience in the manufacturing sector and is also becoming a key name in Northern Ireland’s emerging tech sector. Richard Gray heads up the ‘very professional' team and is highly skilled in M&A, corporate finance and competition work. Senior partner Neasa Quigley is a respected name for private equity work, with a particular emphasis on technology and more specifically IT infrastructure. On the manufacturing side, Gerard Armstrong is active in the agri-foods sector, with additional strengths in the waste and construction sectors.
Other key lawyers:
Neasa Quigley; Gerard Armstrong
Eakin Healthcare Group Limited
James Leckey Design Limited
Options Technology Limited
Armstrong Medical Limited
Mellanox Technologies UK Limited
STATSports Group Limited
- Advised Eakin on its acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Armstrong Medical Ltd.
- Advised the successful bidder Fibrus on its successful bid for Project Stratum, the project to deliver full fibre broadband across NI.
- Advised Mellanox Technologies UK Limited on its purchase of the entire issued share capital of Titan IC Systems Limited.
Tughans has positioned itself as a leading name for private equity and venture capital transactions, with a client base including major institutional investors such as Techstart Ventures, Invest NI and Kernel Capital. Practice head James Donnelly is a leading name for this work, particularly in relation to advising tech startups and early stage companies. John McGuckian has a similar focus on private equity, as well as M&A transactions. Former senior partner John-George Willis is now a consultant to the firm.
Other key lawyers:
‘We found Tughans to be hugely professional and competent. They approached our project with transparency, specialist expertise and commitment and delivered the key objectives. The corporate team drove the project forward and called on the depth of experience within the firm, notably banking/finance, property and employment to fulfil the goal.’
‘John McGuckian is fantastic to work with. His knowledge, perspective and commitment were admirable. In addition to a very pragmatic and measured approach, John has a wonderful ability to get the deal over the line. He is very personable and brings a great sense of calm and confidence to his clients. We found his attention to detail, availability, and communication outstanding.’
‘I have worked with a number of the Corporate and Commercial team in Tughans and every member of the team is exceptionally approachable, knowledgeable, responsive and professional. They efficiently ensure any issue is addressed promptly, clarifying any requirements upfront to ensure any terms of engagement accurately reflect your needs.’
Techstart Ventures LLP
Business Growth Fund
Connect Total Communications
Mattioli Woods Plc
Invest Northern Ireland
- Advised Business Growth Fund on its £10m growth capital investment in Decora Blinds.
- Advised Metacompliance Limited in relation to a significant investment made into it by private equity investor Tenzing.
- Advised Tennants Consolidated Limited on the sale of Tennants Fine Chemicals Limited (and its subsidiaries in China and Singapore) to the Eternis Group (based in India).
Manufacturing and technology are two core areas of focus for Cleaver Fulton Rankin, which has expertise in M&A, private equity and VC transactions. Practice head Hilary Griffith is a council member of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and and jointly leads the firm’s technology sector group; her client base includes fintech, e-commerce and e-learning businesses. The energy sector is another area of focus for the practice, largely due to the expertise of Stephen Cross. Senior associate Kathryn Laverty, who assists Griffith on most matters, is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Kathryn Laverty; Stephen Cross
‘The team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin handled our recent investment and made the whole process very straightforward. They explained all of the legal paperwork so that it was easy to understand and made sensible, workable suggestions.’
‘Both Hilary Griffith and Kathryn Laverty are extremely knowledgeable in what they do and have great experience behind them to guide us in the right direction. We found them very approachable and easy to work with.’
‘I was impressed with the team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin, who had all the skills to help our company complete the business transaction in a timely manner. Advice was co-ordinated in an efficient way to achieve the best outcome. My engagement with CFR was very positive’
‘My engagement with CFR was mainly with Hilary Griffith. Hilary was very professional and logical in her approach and kept me informed at all times. Despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic, Hilary managed all the communications and document exchanges in an efficient manner. I had a high degree of confidence in her analysis of the priorities. Hilary employed the skills of her team to the company benefit. She provided her personal contact details and was available at all times to take a call to help maintain momentum in the deal.’
‘They are large enough to cope with any project and have the appropriate individuals to cater for my needs. They differ from others as it’s not always about how much they can charge, they thrive on building relationships – the bottom line is they care!’
‘They are all commercially focused and make me feel at ease when going through commercial legal issues.’
‘ Kathryn Laverty has grown with our business – she did the paperwork on our first VC investment and now leads our VC investments. She does an outstanding job’
‘Hilary Griffith is very grounded and keen to understand what is going on in the business behind the legal matters at hand. She is much more approachable than the typical partner at a big law firm. Kathryn is extremely responsive to our questions and issues. No matter how big or small the request, it never seems too much trouble. Both ladies seem to enjoy what they do and this comes across in their day to day interactions with clients such as myself.’
Vox Financial Partners Ltd
LogicEarth Learning Solutions Ltd
Sabina Properties Limited
Grays Clip Limited
Northern Pharmacies Limited
Ulster Carpet Mills (Holdings) Limited
Regen Waste Limited
RA Irwin & Company
Phion Therapeutics Limited
Made to Engage Limited
The Momentum Group
Effidac Limited t/a Truestock
Millicent Pharma (NI) Limited
The Conway Group
- Advised the shareholders of Logicearth Learning Services, an elearning company on its acquisition by The Creative Engagement Group.
- Advised Ulster Carpet Mills (Holdings) Limited on the purchase of the underlay business from Axfelt (In Administration).
- Advised Grays Clip Limited on its first six figure funding round from private investors through the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN).
Millar McCall Wylie LLP is a strong independent firm with a diverse offering which includes M&A, share sales and acquisitions, capital investments and MBOs. Practice head Damian McParland has 'arguably the broadest skills base of any corporate lawyer in Belfast', with a notably strong track record in technology and media. Technology is also a core strength of Scott Kennedy, who advises on M&A, capital investments and IP exploitation.
Other key lawyers:
‘Scott Kennedy is always easily available and responsive. Also steady and commercially savvy.’
‘Excellent service – they always respond in a timely manner to all requests. Great range of knowledge and experience across the commercial team.’
‘Great service from partner Scott Kennedy. Excellent technical knowledge delivered in very commercial way. ’
‘Excellent level of service. Very responsive – they represent extremely good value for money – priced far more competitively than some of the biggest names in the Belfast legal market but service and insight on par with the best.’
‘Damian McParland is an excellent lawyer with arguably the broadest skills base of any corporate lawyer in Belfast, with very strong commercial acumen. Has an excellent ability to surmise complex concepts into simple statements and documents, benefiting his clients and facilitating smooth transactions.’
‘The key members of the team obviously have their individual expertise and it is great to be able to rely on them for requirements that we have. I feel as a practice they have a collaborative approach.’
‘Damian McParland’s help in a recent acquisition was great – the fact that he led the team gave me great confidence.’
Learning Pool Limited
Cirdan Imaging Limited
McAleer & Rushe Group
Whiterock Capital Partners
- Advised Cirdan Imaging on the acquisition of thedigital and computational pathology business formerly known as PathXL from the multinational Philips Group.
- Advised Learning Pool on the acquisition of the US e-learning company Remote Learner as the latest in a series of strategic acquisitions.
- Advised Keystone Group on the trade acquisition of Stockgap Limited.
Mills Selig has a strong reputation for handling local deals, as well as acting as local counsel on UK-wide and international transactions. The team has recently taken lead roles on some of the biggest deals in the domestic market, including advising EG Group on the Herbert Group’s sale of the largest KFC franchise in the UK and Ireland. Managing partner Chris Guy specialises in major M&A and private equity transactions. Senior partner John Kearns has expertise in corporate and restructuring issues, while the team has also been boosted with the arrival of senior associate Darren Marley from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP - he is particularly strong in VC deals.
Other key lawyers:
‘Darren Marley is exceptional. He goes beyond law and thinks commercially – advising the businesses we invest in on what matters and what doesn’t; picking the right fights so as to get the most for the businesses from us as the VC, which I respect. There are few lawyers who can give quality advice with a very strong commercial focus on what really matters. This helps to close deals efficiently and effectively.’
Euro Garages Limited
First Derivatives plc
Devenish Nutrition Limited
Quinn Industrial Limited
Natural World Products Limited
Portview Holdings Limited
Whiterock Capital Partners LLP
BSI Wind Ltd
Savage & Whitten Group
Warrenpoint Port Harbour
Clanmil Housing Association
SDC trailers Limited
- Advised EG Group on its acquisition of the largest KFC franchise in the UK and Ireland.
- Advised First Derivatives in relation to its divestment of shares in Quantile Technologies.
- Acted for the management team of TruCorp Limited on its management buy-out.
Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP
Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is the only international law firm with a significant corporate team in Belfast. The firm also has a base in Dublin, which, combined with its network of offices across Great Britain makes it ideal for transactions which span the UK and Ireland. Legal director Lisa Early jointly leads the practice and is highly experienced in PE transactions; she has a particular focus on sectors such as technology and energy. The energy sector is also a core area of focus for fellow legal director Michael Hamill, who is an expert in corporate transactions and project finance.
Lisa Early; Michael Hamill
Horizon Capital and Shareholders of TotalMobile
Flogas Natural Gas
Shareholders of Texthelp
Luxco Inc./Niche Drinks
Capital Dynamics Limited
Beauparc Utilities Group
Belfast City Airport
CGI Victoria Square Partnership
- Advised Horizon Capital Partners and the management shareholders of TotalMobile in relation to the secondary management buyout of the company by new investor Bowmark Capital.
- Advised the management shareholders of Ensco Limited (Texthelp Ltd) on the exit of investors LDC Managers Ltd and the new investment by Five Arrows Principle Investments and reinvestment by management.
- Advised Flogas Natural Gas Limited on the acquisition of Budget Energy.
Davidson McDonnell Solicitors
Davidson McDonnell Solicitors is a boutique practice primarily known for M&A and venture capital transactions. The team is led by Vicky Dummigan who, in addition to the aforementioned work, has particular expertise with regards to management buyouts, restructurings and commercial agreements. Raymond Duddy has recently been promoted to legal director and focuses on the insurance, property, wealth management sectors.
Vicky Dummigan; Raymond Duddy
‘Davidson McDonnell provide pragmatic and commercially focused solutions in a cost effective manner. They are excellent at what they do, transparent in their dealings, and consistently deliver real value for money. Everyone we have encountered has also been a pleasure to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.’
‘Vicky Dummigan is technically excellent and a genuine pleasure to work with. She is highly pragmatic and goes above and beyond to deliver for her clients, even with very tight timeframes and challenging expectations. She is extremely reliable, responsive and a safe pair of hands in any corporate transaction.’
‘Excellent team – attentive to client needs, flexible and of the highest quality.’
‘Raymond Duddy is very helpful across the board.’
Kainos Group PLC
Willis Insurance & Risk Management
Automated Intelligence Limited
- Advised Kainos Group PLC on its acquisition of Intuitive Technologies LLC.
- Advised Co-Op Group on the sale of Northern Irish assets to Henderson Group.
- Advised George McEvoy in the sale of Budget Energy to Flogas.
Elliott Duffy Garrett's recent work has included a number of transactions in the agri-food sector; the firm also works with clients in manufacturing, construction, charities and pharma. The firm has a particular focus on working with family-owned SMEs, but is also member of TAGLaw, an international alliance of independent law firms, which allows for increased access to cross border and multi-jurisdictional matters. Kevin McVeigh leads the team - he advises on all aspects of corporate transactions and commercial agreements.
‘The team respond very quickly to all our requests. We have used them over the last 40 years for acquisitions and disposals.’
‘I have found them to be very reliable and also easily available when I need to speak to someone. They are more down to earth than others, which suits me best – from answering the phone to the partner I deal with.’
‘My dealings with the practice was for a single transaction. The partner in charge took personal charge; was attentive to correspondence and phone calls and always provided follow up to every query raised. The transition was efficiently handled; nothing was too much trouble – the practice managed to make the team feel like a very personal service.’
‘Consistent reliable and timely support always delivered with exceptional courtesy in the most demanding circumstances.’
Keystone Law’s Belfast lawyers are experienced in corporate transactions, governance, restructurings and fundraisings. Managing director John McMahon is particular prominent in the aerospace, engineering and energy sectors. He works alongside solicitor Lauren McGarry and consultant Richard McLaughlin.
‘Keystone Law always offer a first class experience – we would not hesitate to recommend their services. They are prompt, efficient and always offer the most appropriate advice.’
‘The small team in Belfast are efficient and have a very good range of legal expertise.’
Beasts of War Ltd
Causeway Aero Group Limited
Vertigo TQ Holdings Ltd
CSM Property Management Ltd
Ferdinand Felder (individual)
A large Northern Irish pharmaceutical company
N Parking Europe Limited
HALF Holdings Limited
Real Estate Engineering Services Limited
Volvo Bus Corporation
Rotini Group Limited
Galgorm Resort & Spa
Galgorm Castle Holdings Limited
Hatch Brothers Limited
Harry Dunlop Refrigeration Europe Limited
- Advised Keltbray on the company’s enhancements to its corporate governance structure, which includes the creation of Keltbray Holdings Limited.
- Assisted Merchant Money with entering the NI marketplace.
- Advised the owners of Beasts of War Limited, the UK’s largest table top gaming community, on its sale to Wayland Games Limited.
Shoosmiths LLP, which has had a presence in Belfast since December 2016, has continued to expand its footprint in Northern Ireland, and launched a corporate practice in November 2020 with the hire of Mark Davis. Davis formerly worked in the London office of McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP, where he was head of its UK corporate practice and co-chair of the firm’s global private equity group. The firm also made a number of hires from TLT during 2021, including partners Grant Edwards and Andrew Jennings.
Other key lawyers:
Grant Edwards; Andrew Jennings
‘Mark Davis is very intelligent, picks things up very quickly and addresses the issue straight. He involves juniors if the matter doesn’t need himself, which makes things cost effective.’
‘They solve the matters very quickly. They also offer good fees.’
‘A very strong and committed team in the Belfast office who have a good grasp on practical matters and a strong industry knowledge.’
‘Mark Davis represented us on our recent seed investment raise. We would definitely use the firm for any further investment rounds, and and would have no issue recommending them to other startup companies.’
‘Andrew Jennings is a highly accomplished individual with a driven commercial view which makes dealing with him and discussing deals and proposals enjoyable. Extremely well connected across three sectors we’ve spoken specifically about.’
‘Andrew Jennings is pragmatic, approachable, practical and has good technical expertise.’
‘Andrew Jennings is a true professional in his field. Cognisant of others’ needs, he intently listens while figuring out clear pathways. A brilliant mind.’
- Advised TriWest Capital Partners on the acquisition of the Valence business of Lithium Werks.
- Advised Financial SatNav Limited on its recent restructuring and sale of securities to a new LLP.
- Advising an international renewables investor on a substantial sale of a storage facility in Northern Ireland.
TLT has a significant presence in the energy and technology sectors, and is particularly active in the PE space.
‘TLT have strength across all commercial areas we’ve explored with them. Their structure is such that if the individual you’re dealing with doesn’t cover that area, a partner within one of their other offices will. They are very accessible and on point with billing and openness. No nasty surprises. We’ve also found they’re happy to add value up-front in the spirit of a business relationship in the future. If I had to pick a phrase or word it would be ‘importance of relationships’.
‘We could not recommend the firm or the individuals highly enough and see no reason to look anywhere else.’
‘Pragmatic, approachable, practical and good technical expertise’
‘Great quality of service, good people to deal with and come across as genuine people’
‘The quality of work, getting to know us individually as a firm and as individuals. Making you feel valued as a client.’
SSE Renewables Developments (UK) Limited
Foresight Group LLP
BSG Civil Engineering Limited
Lough Shore Road Limited
- Advised Alpha Real Renewables on its entry into the Northern Ireland energy market with the acquisition of a portfolio of NIRO accredited 250kW operational wind turbines.
- Acted for SSE on Northern Irish corporate aspects of the disposal of Slieve Divena II Windfarm, a 18.8MW ROC accredited eight turbine windfarm to Greencoat UK Wind PLC.
- Acting for Par Equity, a venture capital investment fund headquartered in Edinburgh in three investments in 2020.