Dispute resolution in Northern Ireland

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody's first-rate reputation in dispute resolution allows the team to handle high-profile disputes in Northern Ireland, and act for local parties in major European cases. Brendan Fox sits at the helm of the practice and is renowned for his work in construction and real estate litigation, having acted in High Court proceedings and ICC arbitrations. The team is also well regarded for its work in financial services litigation, with Michael Neill and Sam Corbett regularly representing the Big Four accountancy firms, with particular skill in insolvency disputes. Micaela Diver leads the firm's litigation public and regulatory team and is highly skilled in corruption and bribery investigations. The 'empathetic, perceptive and highly professional' Barbara Creed is another key name for commercial litigation.

Practice head(s):

Brendan Fox

Testimonials

‘Very good firm. Very responsive and provides good value for money. Sam Corbett and Michael Neill are excellent. They give a great client service at a reasonable cost.’

‘A&L Goodbody are the most business friendly and commercially savvy law firm in Belfast. Their formidable client focus and 360 degree business insight breeds client confidence. Staff are friendly, internal processes are highly effective, ongoing communications helpful and their fee structure represents excellent value for money.’

‘At no stage in our dealings with A&L Goodbody did the experience feel transactional, but rather relational. A&L have assembled a team of inspiring individuals who make it their mission to help clients flourish on their business journey.’

‘Barbara Creed stands out from the rest and in our view has built a formidable reputation as one of Northern Ireland’s leading commercial lawyers. Extremely client focused, Barbara understands business and makes things happen.’

‘Empathetic, perceptive and highly professional, Barbara’s sense of urgency and her ability to read between the lines builds client confidence. Disputes are rarely pleasant but Barbara’s innate ability to provide expert guidance and reassurance after every conversation makes you feel that you are not standing alone – whatever the odds.’

‘They are our go-to firm in banking dispute resolution matters offering expert advice and bespoke solutions. The team offer a personal service and are very approachable. They have a wealth of litigation and dispute resolution experience and are always prepared to go the extra mile for us.’

‘The advice is always practical and pragmatic and the team have a sound commercial awareness of our business needs.’

‘We have established an excellent relationship with Michael Neill and Sam Corbett and value their sound judgement and willingness to work to find the best solution.’

Key clients

Volkswagen

Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall

Cerberus

BDO

Foresight Group

KFC

News Group Newspapers

Bank of Ireland

Northern Ireland Water Limited

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Work highlights

  • Defending Volkswagen in group litigation proceedings in Northern Ireland arising from the emissions scandal.
  • Defending News Group Newspapers in proceedings brought in the Northern Ireland High Court by a firm of solicitors for copyright infringement, defamation, and misuse of private information.
  • Defending Clinishare Limited in proceedings commenced by a shareholder.

Arthur Cox Belfast

As 'probably the strongest litigation team in Belfast dealing with Magic Circle-quality work', Arthur Cox Belfast stands out for its expertise in professional negligence claims, procurement challenges and fraud investigations. Managing partner Catriona Gibson is head of dispute resolution at the firm, and has been instructed by major domestic and multinational clients in banking litigation, product liability issues and white-collar crime disputes. Chris Ritchie is another key name of note and is particularly adept in insurance-relate disputes, having worked at Kennedys prior to joining the firm. A major development in the team has been David Black's promotion to partner; he acts in commercial disputes and professional negligence matters.

Practice head(s):

Catriona Gibson 

Other key lawyers:

Chris Ritchie; David Black

Testimonials

‘David Black is proactive in his approach to issues and efficient at getting results.’

‘Arthur Cost has a strong team of lawyers with a broad range of expertise that allows them to get on top and master whatever is thrown at them.’

‘Catriona Gibson is masterful in handling clients and staff and is commercially astute.’

‘David Black is insightful and resourceful both on the law and in client care.’

‘Probably the strongest litigation team in Belfast dealing with Magic Circle-quality work. The quality of work and response are second to none.’

‘Catriona Gibson is one of the most astute lawyers I know. She is excellent – both legally and commercially.’

Key clients

Coca-Cola

Sky

Aer Lingus

Northern Ireland Public Sector Ombudsman

PwC

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

Ulster Bank

Bank of Ireland

Roche

UKAS

Work highlights

  • Acted for Market International and its professional indemnity insurers in a professional indemnity claim brought against one of the most prominent pensions intermediaries in the UK.
  • Acting for the IRBC in a wide-ranging claim for damages issued by property developer Peter Curistan claiming damages in relation to the Millennium project, the Odyssey.
  • Defended Roche Diagnostics in a procurement challenge brought by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics.

Carson McDowell

Often instructed in High Court litigation, Carson McDowell's highly diverse expertise in dispute resolution encompasses media defamation issues, professional indemnity claims, construction litigation, debt recovery work and contractual disputes. Declan Magee leads the practice and has notable experience in major media cases involving defamation elements and injunctions; he has also been active in criminal cases involving public bodies. Senior litigator Hugh McGrattan is a key name for professional indemnity work, and has represented insurers and individuals in the legal, accountancy, architecture and engineering sectors. Darren Toombs handles debt recovery mandates and has represented liquidators, trustees and administrators, while Peter Guzhar focuses broadly on commercial litigation with additional expertise in IP issues.

Practice head(s):

Declan Magee

Testimonials

‘Carson McDowell has consistently provided excellent service and advice in multiple areas of corporate law in a very prompt and effective way.’

‘Carson McDowell is an excellent law firm.’

‘What make them unique is their simple, straightforward, no-nonsense, advice.Always feel they are on your side.’

‘Declan Magee is approachable and empathetic. He looks beyond the obvious in seeking efficient resolution of commercial disputes.’

Key clients

Tayto Group Limited and Tayto

Independent News & Media NI

Sentence Review Commissioners

Alpha News Group

Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland

Northstone NI Limited

Translink

FP McCann Ltd

Wrightbus Ltd

Medical Protection Society

Work highlights

  • Represented FP McCann in a judicial review against the Department for Regional Development’s decision to treat its tender for the A8 dual carriageway project as abnormally low.
  • Acted for global crisp supplier, Tayto, in highly publicised trade mark infringement proceedings against an unlicensed supplier.
  • Represented Wrightbus, which had experienced financial difficulties and as a result had to manage contentious matters arising from its customer and supplier network.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin excels in real estate and construction disputes, fielding a team of strong litigators, adjudicators and mediators. Practice head Patrick Fleming focuses on construction and procurement disputes, counting the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as a key client. Managing director Jonathan Forrester is also adept at construction litigation, and has carved an additional niche in representing charities and social enterprises, often working alongside fellow construction disputes specialist Lisa Boyd. Also highly recommended is insolvency expert Jeanette Donohoe who has represented financial institutions including HSBC, Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Fleming 

Key clients

BAM McCann JV

Victoria Housing Estates Limited

Linfield Football Club

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

North West Regional College

DB UK Bank Limited

HSBC Bank plc

Ulster Bank Limited

Bank of Ireland

Work highlights

  • Represented BAM Civil Limited and FP McCann Limited in a procurement challenge against the Department for Infrastructure at the High Court and Court of Appeal levels related to the procurement procedure for a road scheme project.
  • Acting for the NIHE in a dispute raised by a contractor in respect of an asbestos surveying services contract.
  • Representing an individual purchaser in a high-value professional negligence claim against the solicitor responsible for acting on the acquisition of the property.

Elliott Duffy Garrett

The 'well-established and well-respected' team at Elliott Duffy Garrett stands out for its expertise in product liability and insolvency disputes. The team's structure changed in 2020 with Christopher Duffy leading the practice following former practice head Brian Deeny's move to a consultancy role. Duffy has particular knowledge of commercial litigation and insolvency cases, while Deeny is experienced in professional negligence claims. Marie-Louise Lowry is another notable name, with a strong background in procurement, energy and licensing disputes. Duffy and Lowry also act as mediators.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Duffy

Other key lawyers:

Brian Deeny; Marie-Louise Lowry 

Testimonials

‘The firm is well established and well respected in the NI market-place.’

‘Christopher Duffy is a stand-out solicitor who works hard, applies his vast knowledge, and delivers for clients.’

Key clients

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman

Northern Bank t/a Danske

Choice Housing Ireland Limited

SEUPB

Trinity Mirror

Tennent’s (NI) Limited

Budget Energy Ltd

Andras House Group

Connswater Homes Limited

Premium Credit Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Keenan Corporate Finance in an insolvency litigation arising out of the winding up of a company in 2015.
  • Advised Tennents on the recovery of a company debt secured against residential premises and guaranteed by the directors of the company.
  • Represented the Norther Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards in a case where a complaint was made against a councillor.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

With particular strength in contract breaches and product liability claims, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP 'has the scale and ability to call on in-house expertise in areas such as insolvency, property and employment law', presenting it with 'a significant competitive advantage'. David Kirkpatrick leads the practice, which has a client base including major Irish names in the retail, food and banking industries. The team also includes Laura Gillespie, who has 'excellent legal knowledge and an amazing ability to find practical pragmatic solutions', and senior associate James Griffiths, who is expanding his reputation in media law.

Practice head(s):

David Kirkpatrick

Testimonials

‘Pinsent Mason’s dispute resolution team is know for its high-quality service delivery.’

‘The team which has been built up over a number of years has extensive experience of commercial litigation and dispute resolution across a range of industries and for both domestic and overseas clients.’

‘Its scale and ability to call on in-house expertise in areas such as insolvency, property, employment law etc represents a significant competitive advantage.’

‘The team leaders and associates are very user friendly with a focus on the client’s needs and preferred outcome whether that be to achieve speedy resolution or to prosecute or defend a claim with vigour.’

‘Pinsent Mason’s GB and RoI network of offices is a distinct advantage when conducting litigation in NI or on behalf of NI based clients.’

‘At director level David Kirkpatrick in particular is a very experienced operator who develops strong relationships with clients. His knowledge of the NI legal sector is second to none. He is very well known and respected not just by clients and non clients but also by competing firms, members of the Bar and by the judiciary. He and Laura Gillespie have built a formidable and respected team which is amongst, if not the, highest regarded in the NI market.’

‘Catherine Mallon and James Griffiths are very well regarded litigators with extensive experience and ability to respond at speed to client’s needs. These individuals are well supported at junior level with the result that the team can produce a rapid high level service.’

‘Laura Gillespie has excellent legal knowledge and an amazing ability to find practical pragmatic solutions. Strong UK-wide firm with established reputation in all commercial areas.’

Key clients

Frylite Limited.

Work highlights

  • Represented Frylite Limited in proceedings for breach of contract against a former employee, who is alleged to have covertly ran a competing business whilst employed by Frylite Limited.

Tughans

Tughans is best known in the market for its expertise in real estate, construction and procurement disputes. Senior partner Michael Mccord sits at the helm of the group; he has expertise in litigation and arbitration proceedings and particular experience in contract breach litigation, negligence claims and debt recovery issues. Managing partner Patrick Brown is another key name to note and is adept at procurement challenges. Toby Mcmurray, who focuses on insolvency, fraud and shareholder disputes, is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Michael Mccord

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Brown, Toby Mcmurray

Key clients

NGD Properties

BAM McCann

Zara

KPMG

Northern Ireland Water

Ardmore Advertising

Ulster Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association

Randox Laboratories

Telecoms Management

Farrans

Work highlights

  • Acting for BAM McCann in a roads project and the related professional negligence claim against the design engineers.
  • Acted for KPMG, as administrators of Lagan Construction Limited, in a claim arising from its joint venture with Portuguese construction giant Somague.
  • Represented the GAA in several disputes which arose out of the redevelopment of a £120m sports stadium in a constrained residential site.

Kennedys

Recognised internationally for insurance defence work, Kennedys has a strong presence in Northern Ireland and fields 'an excellent team of experienced and talented lawyers, who have an intimate knowledge of the area.' Amanda Wylie leads the team and has notable expertise in health and safety investigations as well as product liability claims. Raymond Gilmore is another key figure and is particularly active in representing insurers in professional negligence claims in the accountancy sector.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Wylie

Testimonials

‘An excellent team with experienced and talented lawyers who have an intimate knowledge of their area.’

‘Amanda Wylie, Megan Boyd and Frances Thompson combine an exceptional work ethic and knowledge of the field with excellent client facing skills and a realistic and robust approach to litigation and resolution.’

Work highlights

  • Handling numerous instructions relating to alleged negligent over-valuations made in the early to mid-2000s.
  • Acting in a subrogated claim for recovery of money in relation to a fire at premises and separately in relation to personal injury claims.
  • Acted for a large manufacturer in response to Industrial Tribunal proceedings issued by five claimants asserting that they were employees as opposed to self-employed contractors throughout their engagement with the business.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP

Millar McCall Wylie LLP stands out for its expertise in procurement law litigation; the group is also very active in commercial contract and shareholder disputes. Practice head Caroline Prunty handles procurement claims and has represented clients in a number of High Court disputes; she is also a qualified mediator. William McSorley was promoted to partner in 2019 and has expertise in defending clients in insurance litigation, particularly in relation to hearing loss claims.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Prunty

Other key lawyers:

William McSorley

Key clients

JMC Mechanical and Construction Limited

N K Fencing Ltd

J A Solar Limited

Melting Solutions Limited

Amey LG Limited

Gigha Glenview Limited

MJM Group

Jet Assist Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented JMC in challenging the award of a contract to another tenderer.
  • Acting for MJM in planning matters and potential judicial review issues.

Mills Selig

Mills Selig is an established name in the market for real estate and construction disputes and acts for domestic and international clients. Emma Hunt leads the team; alongside construction and real estate knowledge, she is also active in banking litigation, defamation claims and IP disputes. Former practice head Paul Spring has retired.

Practice head(s):

Emma Hunt

Other key lawyers:

Kirsten Magee

Testimonials

‘Mills Selig is a notable mid-range firm in the commercial dispute resolution sector in NI. It provides a boutique approach to commercial disputes, which is partner-led by Emma Hunt, strongly supported by the impressive Kirsten Magee, with a particularly strong presence in the areas of property, technology, green economy industries, transport and insolvency. The service offering is an impressive one for a team of its scale.’

Key clients

First Derivatives plc

Quinn Industrial Holdings

Fannin (NI) Ltd

Warrenpoint Harbour Authority

Choice Housing Ireland Limited

Murdock Property Group

Tifco Ltd

Channel 4

Boojum Limited

Ammann Czech Republic A.S.

Work highlights

  • Acting for Warrenpoint Harbour Authority in an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against a decision of the Information Commissioner.
  • Acting for BSG Civil Engineering, the defendant sub-contractor in a complex, multi-jurisdictional dispute relating to the construction of an anaerobic digestion plant.
  • Acting for Ammann Czech Republic, a global manufacturer of machinery, in relation to Coronial Inquest proceedings.

TLT

With particular strengths in banking, property and IP disputes, TLT 'benefits from being a national company, meaning it is able to call on specialist lawyers in other offices around the UK for their experience and knowledge'. Katharine Kimber leads the practice and is notably strong in financial services litigation, with the added advantage of having formerly worked as a barrister. The 'exceptional' Fergal Maguire  has expertise in litigation and mediation, and is highly active in property and land disputes.

Practice head(s):

Katharine Kimber

Other key lawyers:

Fergal Maguire

Testimonials

‘TLT benefit from being a national company. There aren’t many such practices in NI. It means they’re able to call on specialist lawyers in other offices around the UK and call on their experience and knowledge. This most definitely gives them an edge over the regional practices.’

‘They are very down to earth and approachable. No pretension. You know that they know their stuff inside out but they put the client at ease which is not something you always get.’

‘Fergal Maguire at TLT is exceptional. He is a formidable player in this sector. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge – excelling in dispute resolution. He quickly deciphers complex cases and decides quickly on the best strategy to adopt. He also knows which other players to bring on board. No stone is left unturned with Fergal. He is accessible, very approachable and knows how to communicate to the client in layman’s terms.’

Key clients

Lambert Smith Hampton

BW Homes & Constructions Limited

Jennifer Herald and Subway Realty Limited

Pinpoint Property Ltd

Speed Motion Films Ltd

Allied Irish Banks

Bank of Ireland

Work highlights

  • Acted for Lambert Smith Hampton as receivers in a Court of Appeal win against a challenge to its appointment and powers.
  • Successfully defending a jurisdiction challenge for AIB, which proceeded to the Court of Appeal.
  • Defending BW Homes and Construction in the NI Commercial Court in a novel claim that it deliberately placed Japanese Knotweed on the plaintiffs’ land, thereby sabotaging the property.

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland's Belfast team is 'up and coming' and 'beginning to make its presence felt in Northern Ireland', most notably in procurement, insolvency and insurance litigation. Matthew Howse heads up the team and specialises in commercial and financial services litigation.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Howse

Testimonials

‘The approach of the team is geared towards reaching the optimal commercial resolution for their client in a timely manner and without incurring unnecessary costs.’

‘Matthew Howse knows precisely what the client wants in terms of a commercial outcome to the case and this helps ensure both counsel and solicitor can agree on a strategy for dealing with the matter that achieves the desired outcome for the client. ‘

‘Up and coming, beginning to make their presence felt in Northern Ireland’

‘Matthew Howse: utterly dedicated to his clients and cases.’

Key clients

Flybe Limited

CSC Computer Sciences Limited t/a DXC Technology

PwC

AON UK Limited

Northstone NI Limited t/a Farrans

Legal & General Group Plc

Walsin Limited

Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited

AVEVA Solutions Limited

Northland Deutsche Bucht GMbH

BDO

Ulster Bank Limited

Four Seasons Healthcare Limited

Napiers

Work highlights

  • Represented Farrans in a complex and high-profile public procurement challenge.
  • Acted for DXC as plaintiff in proceedings brought to challenge a complex procurement exercise.
  • Acted for Flybe in a challenge to its baggage charges.

McKees

As a 'long-established but forward-looking firm', McKees stands out for its disputes expertise, representing major domestic banks and financial institutions. Practice head Chris Ross is highly skilled in defending banks against claims of mis-selling, misrepresentation and contract breaches; he is also very experienced in acting in defamation claims. Other areas of expertise from the team include professional negligence actions, property disputes and shareholder disagreements.

Practice head(s):

Chris Ross

Testimonials

‘Highly respected, long established but forward-looking firm ‘

‘Chris Ross: calm and authoritative litigator.’

Key clients

Ulster Bank

AIB

L E Pritchitt Limited (part of Lakeland Dairies Group)

Wallace and Company

McCulla Ireland Limited

Ulster Garden Villages

Work highlights

  • Represented AIB in a £5m claim brought by a high-net-worth borrower relating to the purported mis-selling by the bank of interest rate hedging products.
  • Acting in a commercial action to defend a banking client against allegations relating to its conduct in the provision of banking services.
  • Defending a client against a High Court writ seeking to force it to comply with covenant obligations to build a bridge to allow access to neighbouring land.

Napier Solicitors

Napier Solicitors is particularly known for its work in the insolvency and bankruptcy space; it is also highly skilled in contract breach claims as well as shareholder and partnership disputes. Personal injury work is primarily handled by practice co-head and managing partner Joseph Napier, who counts BT as a key client. Fellow co-head Brigid Napier focuses on insolvency cases, and is also a licensed insolvency practitioner and notary public.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Napier; Brigid Napier

Testimonials

‘The team is very efficient and professional while at the same time being close to its clients and friendly at all times.’

Key clients

BT

Education Authority

Ards & North Down Borough Council

Council for Catholic Maintained Schools

Police Ombudsman NI

Work highlights

  • Acted for a shareholder of Wrightbus on its insolvency.
  • Represented BT in claims that arise form its physical network.
  • Acted for religious institutions in historical inquests of abuse.

Shoosmiths LLP

Relatively new to the Belfast market, Shoosmiths LLP is experienced in commercial litigation, recovery disputes and professional negligence claims. Gillian Crotty leads the team and is an expert in commercial and banking litigation, with a client roster which includes Tesco Bank, Subway and Boots.

Practice head(s):

Gillian Crotty

Testimonials

‘Highly technical and competent, but with a real human touch.’

‘Gillian Crotty is highly competent, very personable and has great commercial awareness.’

Key clients

Close Brothers Limited

Aramark Limited

Tesco Bank

Arrow Global

Boots UK

RCI Financial Services Limited

Subway

Arkle Finance Ltd

SG Equipment Finance

Cabot Credit Management

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of a UK bank in relation to an appeal brought by the defendant in relation to the bank’s attempt to recover possession of property.
  • Acting on behalf of a large UK pharmacy and retail client in relation to a rent review dispute before the Lands Tribunal.
  • Acting on behalf of a private client in relation to an ongoing partnership dispute before the Chancery Court.

Worthingtons

Worthingtons is a boutique dispute resolution firm and has a growing reputation through its work in public law and judicial review challenges. Ciaran McConnell is a key name and an expert in shareholder and partnership disputes, as well as contract breach claims. Claire McDaid, who focuses on commercial and property litigation, is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ciaran McConnell

Other key lawyers:

Claire McDaid

Key clients

AA McGuckian Ltd

Advantage Finance Ltd

Sports NI

Work highlights

  • Representing AA McGuckian Ltd in a challenge to the Department of Economy over the exclusion of a major plant from the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, which has been the subject of a judicial inquiry.