A&L Goodbody stands out for its expertise in immigration, employment contracts, redundancies and reorganisations, with a Dublin office that allows it to advise on both of Ireland’s jurisdictions, making the firm ‘unique for complex Brexit and regulatory regime matters’. The team advises major employers in the region such as Danske Bank, Citibank and Hastings Hotel. ‘Always responsive‘ practice head Gareth Walls is experienced in all of the aforementioned areas, and has expertise in both advisory and disputes work. Senior associate Shirley Blair, who has a particular focus on the retail sector, is also recommended.
Employment in Northern Ireland
Other key lawyers:
Shirley Blair; Aisling Byrne
‘The legal practice and particularly the employment team have a very good understanding of our business and how they can support us. They understand our people strategy and policies and provide effective advice that helps our company remain compliant and agile in dealing with people-related challenges.’
‘The team members all have strengths in different areas (including immigration, contracts, redundancy, organisational design/restructuring) and this helps us to tap into the right team members as required.’
‘Proactive Belfast office of an all-island law firm. Young, energetic, engaged team.’
‘Advice was given in a timely manner, and the entire exercise taken through to successful completion.’
‘The fact that they have a team north and south of the border makes them unique for complex Brexit and regulatory regime matters.’
‘Gareth Walls is always responsive and provides us with clear and firm advice.’
‘Aisling Byrne is a very proactive and responsive lawyer with a commanding knowledge of employment law matters. She is a reassuring sounding board for any employment-related issue.’
Glentoran Football Club
Hastings Hotel Group
Proofpoint Inc (US)
WhiteHat Security (US)
Invest Northern Ireland
- Acted on behalf of Northern Irish Football Premier League club Glentoran Football Club in the defence of tribunal proceedings brought by a former team physiotherapist.
- Advised Proofpoint on a range of employment matters.
- Advised CitiGroup on complex employee relations issues.
Arthur Cox Belfast's multi-disciplinary team offers 'the complete legal service', with strengths in handling industrial relations disputes, immigration matters, redundancies and restructurings. The firm's presence in both Dublin and Belfast means it is well placed to handle employment issues that span across the UK and Ireland. Rosemary Lundy leads the team and stands out for her expertise in equality law, with a unique insight having formerly worked as an in-house legal adviser to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The 'excellent' Emma-Jane Flannery is another key name in the team and excels in advising on the employment aspects of major restructurings and insolvencies.
Other key lawyers:
Emma-Jane Flannery; Chris Fullerton; Johanna Cunningham
‘There is a true understanding of our business and strategic goals, and they operate more as a valued and central partner to our in-house legal team rather than simply an external adviser.’
‘Emma-Jane Flannery has not simply been an excellent employment law adviser, but also an outstanding partner for the business. She has a deep understanding of our strategic goals, with an easy and pragmatic manner that facilitates the right environment for decision-making, particularly when navigating contentious matters.’
‘Johanna Cunningham has provided invaluable support in relation to Covid-related issues, including regular updates on government reliefs and schemes.’
‘Arthur Cox is a firm that can offer the complete legal service.’
‘I have worked with Rosemary Lundy for many years and she provides an excellent legal service. Her advice has always been on the mark and I would have no problem recommending Rosemary for any employment matter.’
‘Strong knowledge of our business needs. Practical, focused and very commercial approach to our legal challenges – more so than many other firms that we deal with. ’
‘Emma-Jane Flannery’s work with us has been excellent. She is considered a trusted adviser and her views are highly valued.’
JMC Packaging Limited
Progress Software Corporation
Moy Park Limited
Artemis Technologies Ltd
Construction Employers Federation (CEF)
Spirit Aero Systems Inc.
TRU Hotels and Resorts LLC
- Advised JMC Packaging Limited, one of Ireland’s leading importers and distributors of packaging machinery and packaging materials, on the employment aspects of a complex share buy-out transaction.
- Advised Progress Software Corporation on the employment aspects of its acquisition of Chef Software, a global leader in DevOps and DevSecOps, to include advice on the employment aspects of various intra-group transfers.
- Advised Bunzl PLC on complex internal audits, disability issues and managing long-term sickness absence, among other matters.
Carson McDowell's client roster contains a number of public and quasi-public employers such as Translink, Royal Mail and Ulster University. Orlagh O’Neill leads the 'commercially astute' practice and is also vice chair of the Employment Lawyers Group NI, with a strong reputation for handling contentious employment matters. She works alongside the 'outstanding' Rachel Penny, who is highlighted for her expertise in TUPE regulations as well as redundancies and reorganisations. Clients have also singled out senior associate Sarah Cochrane for her 'ability to stay abreast of the ever-changing legislation and guidance around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme'.
Other key lawyers:
Rachel Penny; Sarah Cochrane
‘Carson McDowell’s employment law team offered a number of helpful free seminars during the pandemic. The employment law team is extremely professional and commercially astute and they focus on the best outcome for clients. They go the extra mile and are a very safe pair of hands.’
‘Rachel Penny and her team are swift negotiators and offer intelligent, pragmatic and concise advice. Rachel herself is an outstanding lawyer to work with. I would recommend Rachel Penny and her team without hesitation.’
‘Carson McDowell has been a valuable source of expert professional advice on a number of complex employee relations issues. They have responded quickly to any queries, even outside of normal business hours, and have attended meetings at short notice when requested.’
‘Orlagh O’Neill continues to provide us with a pragmatic approach to navigating complex employee relations issues. Orlagh understands our organisation, which saves time in arriving at the most appropriate solution for us.’
‘They are very professional and strong technically. I find their can-do attitude to be excellent – it makes a change from the sit-on-the-fence approach, that other employment practices use.’
‘An unparalleled blend of knowledge, expertise and skill, combined with an uncommon sense of pragmatism, in a team that is wonderful to work with and a pleasure to do business with. Nothing that we have thrown at them has fazed them in any way and the level of service has always been exceptional.’
‘Rachel Penny is in a league of her own; indeed others aren’t even playing in the same game. Her knowledge of the law, combined with a sense of understanding of the needs of the client, wrapped up in a personality that is joyous to work with, makes the usual drudge of employment relations and litigation much more of a pleasant experience.’
‘Sarah Cochrane’s ability to stay abreast of the ever-changing legislation and guidance around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has made our lives considerably easier over the last year. No question was too large or too small and her expertise was always expertly delivered with a smile to go with it.’
CDE Global Limited
Royal Mail Group Limited
Grand Opera House Trust
Queen’s University Belfast
Eason & Sons (NI) Limited
Dixons Carphone Plc
Belfast Harbour Commissioners
Bryson Charitable Group
- Advised Queen’s University Belfast on matters including TUPE transfers, complex and sensitive investigations and disciplinary matters.
- Defending a claim on behalf of Translink in the industrial tribunal which subsequently went to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.
- Advised various clients, including CDE Global, Lynas Foods, Sketchers Shoes and Invest NI, on the myriad issues surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ‘technically excellent and commercially aware‘ team at Lewis Silkin (N.I.) LLP, which merged with specialist Belfast employment firm Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors in August 2021, covers the full spectrum of employment matters, with particular expertise in discrimination and equality issues. Adam Brett , who previously jointly led the litigation department at Jones Cassidy, focuses on discrimination claims, with a particular interest in issues surrounding disability. The office is managed by Ciara Fulton, who is dual-qualified in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and is experienced in advising on cross-border employment issues. Consultant Fiona Cassidy is particularly strong in employment matters in the public sector, and is highlighted for her ‘deep knowledge and practical considerations‘.
Adam Brett; Ciara Fulton
Other key lawyers:
‘Experts in relation to employment law, particularly discrimination and equality issues. Regardless of which colleague you speak to, the advice is practical, trusted and delivered professionally and in a timely manner.’
‘Fiona Cassidy is one of the most intelligent, professional and pleasant experts I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Her deep knowledge, practical considerations and approachable manner make her stand out from others in her field.’
‘Technically excellent and commercially aware.’
‘Ciara Fulton provided an excellent level of service, explained our options clearly and helped guide us in difficult negotiations.’
‘They care! This trait is what makes them stand out from the other law firms – they truly care about their clients and about concerns we might have.’
‘Winning a case is a team effort. They collaborate with colleagues and partners in their firm, as well as liaising with other external partners. They foster close professional relationships with us as a client and will often have high-profile cases alongside those of a smaller business like ours, but they have the agility to make the smaller business feel as valued as the larger. They harness a strong value of trust, which is important for us, and all their legal representatives are personable, persuasive and polite.’
Ards and North Down Borough Council
Northern Ireland Electricity Networks
Bank or Ireland
Northstone (NI) Limited
- Advised an employer in a case where it was admitted that a criterion regarding experience was indirectly discriminatory on grounds of sex.
- Defended Northstone/Farrans in relation to complex whistleblowing/unfair dismissal claims brought by a former employee.
- Advising a law firm in relation to its appeal against a tribunal decision in relation to equal pay for a senior solicitor.
Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP
In addition to handling matters in Belfast, Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is well placed to advise clients with a presence across the UK and Ireland through its offices in Great Britain and Dublin. The team advises major companies with operations across the UK such as NatWest and Primark, as well Flogas Natural Gas, which required assistance from both the Belfast and Dublin offices. Moreover, 'outstanding' practice head Paul Gillen is qualified in both Irish jurisdictions, as well as in England and Wales. He advises on all aspects of employment work ranging from day-to-day assistance with performance management to handling the employment aspects of corporate transactions and defending clients before employment tribunals and major courts. He is supported by associate Craig Patterson, whose experience includes redundancy and restructuring matters and the application of TUPE.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team are a well-oiled machine and offer a comprehensive and complete package to any client.’
‘I work with most of the employment team (in particular Paul Gillen and Craig Patterson) and each of them is beyond doubt an expert in their field. They are approachable, affable and their knowledge of the law is second to none.’
‘Pinsent Masons have always been an innovative firm of solicitors that have adopted new technologies to the benefit their clients by streamlining processes and transactions such as automated documentation.’
‘The team stands out as one of the best providers of insightful and pragmatic employment advice to enable clients to both solve existing problems and avoid future issues.’
‘During the course of the pandemic the team did not miss a beat in ensuring their clients were kept informed of the regular changes in the law, in areas such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.’
‘Paul Gillen is an outstanding partner who is able to manage the most complex employment issues in a clear, concise and practical way. When conducting litigation he is tactically astute and always live to every issue that could prove to be problematic to his client. Paul is always contactable, quick to respond to queries and is the go-to employment solicitor for many large employers within Northern Ireland.’
‘Craig Patterson is a highly respected up-and-coming associate who is approachable, has great judgement and a can-do attitude.’
‘The Pinsent Masons team are totally professional from the minute of stepping into their premises to leaving it. Their client service is exemplary from the team at reception to the advice team. Their attention to detail is evident throughout the client journey and nothing is ever a problem.’
Queen’s University Belfast
Natwest Banking Group
Gilbert Ash Limited
Ministry of Justice
Survitec Group Limited
- Managing high-volume complaints and employment litigation across all areas for Queen’s University Belfast.
- Acted alongside the employment team in Dublin to advise Flogas Natural Gas (part of the group of DCC PLC) on the employment issues relating to the acquisition of Budget Energy, the disruptor energy supply firm.
- Advising Huntsworth PLC on the employment aspects of the acquisition of LogicEarth Learning Services Ltd, the digital learning company.
With a 'heavyweight reputation', the team at Tughans runs the gamut of employment law work and has been highly active in advising on major redundancies, unfair dismissals and discrimination claims. The team also acts alongside the corporate department to advise on the employment aspects of M&A and reorganisations. Anna Beggan , who is highlighted for her 'good experience and knowledge of the market', oversees the team; she has acted before employment tribunals and the High Court, and is also an accredited mediator. Patricia Rooney, who is well versed in TUPE regulations, is another important figure in the team and is able to assist all-Ireland clients with her qualifications in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Other key lawyers:
‘Very professional and knowledgeable in the subject areas.’
‘Anna Beggan is personable and easy to work with.’
‘The individuals I’ve interacted with within this practice very much have a can do attitude and have gone out of their way to assist in identifying, and fighting for, the right solution for us as a business. Their focus is on timely problem resolution, rather than ongoing engagement and enhancement of billing hours, as is the case with some other practices I’ve worked with previously.’
‘The attention to detail, knowledge base, partner availability (at all times of the day and evening) and determination to act in the best interests of their clients clearly uniquely identifies the individuals I’ve dealt with at Tughans as standouts. In particular, Anna Beggan expressed such qualities during my interaction with her.’
‘The team are responsive and always willing to give advice tailored to our business needs.’
‘The employment team is corporate and sophisticated, and usefully part of a larger organisation which works with business and industry.’
‘Anna Began is a safe pair of hands. A busy in-house lawyer can be confident that Anna will take on and run a process and provide sound advice to assist with decision making. Good experience and knowledge of the market means that Anna can provide a well tuned-in opinion.’
‘The employment team is very professional and comes with a real heavyweight reputation, yet the team are all very approachable and great to work with.’
Northern Ireland Water Limited
Agri Food and Biosciences Institute
Westland Horticulture Limited
Monaghan Mushrooms Group
Business Growth Fund PLC
Mattioli Woods PLC
The Mole Clinic
Invest Northern Ireland
- Advised Business Growth Fund on the employment issues relating to its £10m growth capital investment into Decora Blinds.
- Advised MetaCompliance Limited on all employment aspects of a significant investment by private equity investor Tenzing.
- Advised Connect Total Communications on all the employment aspects of the sale of the business and assets to Radius Payment Solutions.
Described as a ‘one-stop shop for any employment law enquiry‘, Cleaver Fulton Rankin advises both public and private sector clients, covering a broad range of both contentious and non-contentious matters. Practice head and ‘excellent advocate‘ Michael Black advises on all aspects of employment law, but has a particular interest in equality and discrimination matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘We have received excellent legal advice relating to employment law. The staff are very approachable, knowledgeable and extremely professional. Many of our staff have attended training provided on a variety of employment issues and have found the training excellently presented and very informative.’
‘I would particularly like to mention Michael Black. He has guided us through tribunal hearings and employment disputes and helped with a variety of HR queries. His advice is always excellent. Emails are replied to promptly, often out of business hours. He is very professional and has also made our staff feel welcome at training events.’
‘The support and guidance given by the employment practice to our organisation has been exceptional. The extremely difficult and sensitive challenges the board has faced could not have been resolved without the help of Michael Black and his team.’
‘Apart from excellent support through some difficult employment issues, the team also run very helpful, innovative lunchtime briefing sessions for local businesses on a variety of hot topics relating to employment issues, including updates on legislation and how this impacts in practice.’
‘Michael Black takes the time to fully understand each situation and give great clarity on potential issues from both the employer and employee perspective, providing both a ‘letter of the law’ view and also a common-sense approach to understanding possible personnel attitudes and potential outcomes. His advice has rarely failed to hit the mark and has been invaluable on many occasions.’
‘CFR has a strong multi-jurisdictional team allowing them to act as a one-stop shop for any employment law enquiry. Their retainer billing system allows for peace of mind in terms of cost and transparency.’
‘Michael Black is an excellent advocate who presents a calm assurance when dealing with contentious circumstances. He always considers the commercial implications for clients when navigating the legal matters under dispute.’
‘Nathan Campbell assisted us with defining our employment contracts and policies relating to employment law. He has first-class knowledge of employment law and is also very responsive.’
Belfast Metropolitan College
Vox Financial Partners
Belfast Central Mission
Velocity Mobile Limited
- Advised Tourism NI on employment issues raised by Covid-19 for the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.
- Advised Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council on the full spectrum of employment law issues ranging from day-to-day HR advice to assistance in defending tribunal claims.
- Advised National Museums Northern Ireland on day-to-day employment law matters and provided representation in tribunal cases.
Elliott Duffy Garrett is best known for its expertise in contentious employment matters, with a recent workload consisting of discrimination and harassment claims, unfair dismissals and employer's liability cases. The team is also skilled in non-contentious matters, including day-to-day advisory issues. Managing partner Adrienne Brock leads the practice, bring a wealth of 30 years of experience to the team and handles both litigation and mediation. Another key name in the team is Julie Anne Clarke, who is noted for her expertise in advising on employee exits and data protection matters.
Other key lawyers:
Julie Anne Clarke
Special EU Programmes Body
Ulster Bank Limited
United Dairy Farmers Limited
Assumption Grammar School
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Energia Group NI Holdings Ltd
The General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland
- Acted for the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman in the defence of claims of disability discrimination, constructive dismissal and victimisation arising out of a recruitment process.
Eversheds Sutherland’s position as an international law firm, with offices in both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland in addition to Belfast, has made it a popular choice for multinational clients such as Marks & Spencer, Sky and PayPal. The 'astute and commercial' Lisa Bryson leads the 'excellent' team, and covers all aspects of employment work, with particular strengths in restructuring and TUPE matters. She is also highly experienced in dealing with tribunal claims and immigration issues.
‘An excellent employment team but with the benefit of a wider and larger commercial firm behind it.’
‘Lisa Bryson is astute, commercial and has unrivalled knowledge of the law.’
BA Kitchen Components
Kingfisher plc – B&Q
Kingspan Water & Energy Limited
Marks & Spencer plc
Northern Ireland Hospice
Brakes / Pallas Foods
Kestrel Thermoplastics Limited
Capita Business Services Limited
- Advising Marks & Spencer plc on the Northern Ireland aspects of its employment-related matters, including issues stemming from Covid.
- Advising PayPal on the people and workplace issues connected to Brexit for more than 100 of its employees, who reside in Northern Ireland but travel to work every day at the company’s site in Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland.
- Advised Global Payments in relation to a proposed pay reduction across its operations in Northern Ireland and the relocation of its call centre operations.
Millar McCall Wylie LLP was a trusted adviser during the Covid-19 crisis to employers such as Ulster Rugby and Clover Pubs NI, illustrating the 'exceptional and approachable' team’s expertise in handling major restructurings and redundancies. The 'measured, calm and diligent' Jan Cunningham leads the practice and is well versed in TUPE regulations and assisting multinational companies. His background as a former professional rugby player has also given him a unique perspective on employment matters in the local sports sector. Associate David Mitchell, who has experience handling unfair dismissal and discrimination issues, is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘I have during Covid needed advice and counsel on a number of issues, most without precedent. Millar McCall Wylie have always been reliable and provided timely advice.’
‘David Mitchell has gone beyond what could be reasonably expected in delivering. I value both his advice and support.’
‘They are an exceptional and approachable team who make themselves available at short notice when required. They take a practical approach to problems, and clearly outline any risks or issues that may arise. They are always very knowledgeable.’
‘Jan Cunningham is measured, calm and diligent, and this comes across in any matter he assists with. His engagement with his clients is exceptional.’
‘My experience of working with MMW was a very positive one. The approach to the issue was clear and concise but also friendly and approachable. The advice I received meant that the case was dealt with quickly and with no issues. ’
‘From the moment I met Jan Cunningham virtually I knew I was in good hands. His calm and clear demeanour meant I felt 100% comfortable with all communication and the advice. I would not hesitate to use Jan again for all and any legal employment requirements.’
‘Although a large practice, the employment team at MMW offers a service that feels personal and intimate. I always know that whomever I speak to, they will demonstrate empathy and understanding of the situation, and provide advice and guidance that takes into account both legal and practical considerations in a timely manner.’
‘I work in the main with Jan Cunningham. Jan’s knowledge of our industry is outstanding, and his ability to provide legally sound advice that will work for us in practice is really second to none. He often goes above and beyond, providing an excellent service, always going that extra mile for us. Over the ten years I have worked with Jan he has built a very productive working relationship.’
Ulster Rugby (IRFU, Ulster Branch)
Avon Cosmetics Limited
Northern Ireland Screen
Peak 6 NI
Mulgrew Haulage Limited
Draugr Productions Limited
Grant Thornton UK Limited
FP McCann Limited
Inter Terminals Limited
- Advised Irish Rugby Football Union – Ulster Branch on issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the halt to professional sports, and therefore reduction in revenue and restructuring and redundancy processes.
- Advised Clover Pubs NI with regards to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the redundancy process.
- Advised Draugr Productions Limited in relation to employment issues arising from the production of ‘The Northman’, a Hollywood feature film being filmed in Northern Ireland, centring on health and safety issues in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Worthingtons has extensive experience representing clients before the Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal. Louise McAloon leads the team and frequently advises on public interest disclosure, equal pay and discrimination issues, as well as unfair dismissals. Niall McMullan is also skilled in discrimination and unfair dismissal cases, with a particular niche in advising on part-time and flexible working detriment issues.
Mills Selig's employment team operates under the leadership of Kiera Lee, who is an expert in advising on major restructurings as well as day-to-day employment and HR issues. She is also highly skilled in handling employment tribunal claims and the employment aspects of major M&A deals, with multinational clients including Virgin Media and Dunnes Stores. She is supported by solicitor Andrew Edwards, who is well versed in employment matters relating to contracts and TUPE regulations.
Other key lawyers:
First Derivatives Plc
Bamford Bus Company Limited t/a Wrightbus
Virgin Media Plc
Arjo UK Limited
Geda Construction LLP
Golf Holdings Limited
Kerr Henderson Financial Services Limited
Ulster Engineering Limited t/a Ulster Shredders
- Advised the Kerr Henderson Group on the employment aspects of the sale of its pension scheme administration and actuarial consultancy arm to Deloitte by way of an asset sale with a split exchange and completion.
- Advised a consortium of taxi firms, including Value Cabs Limited, on the employment aspects of the acquisition of the business and assets of Infocabs Ltd and the Infocab Partnership.
- Advised global intellectual property supplier Questel SAS on the employment issues relating to its initial 51% acquisition of UK-based RenewalsDesk Limited.
Thompsons NI Solicitors has a longstanding history of representing trade unions and their members, with significant strengths in handling unfair dismissal, redundancy and equal pay-related cases. George Kilpatrick is the key contact in the practice, with a focus on the aforementioned areas, particularly gender equality and disability discrimination cases.
Other key lawyers:
With expertise in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, TLT has a strong domestic client base as well as acting for nationwide companies seeking UK firms with a presence in Belfast. Legal director Leeanne Armstrong leads the team and is active in employment tribunal claims surrounding unfair dismissals and discrimination. She is also highly skilled in advising on day-to-day employment issues. Retail and education are two particular sectors of strength.
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.
Ethos Communication Solutions Limited
Ageas UK Ltd.
Biffa Waste Services Limited
TJ Morris t/a Home Bargains
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
- Advised a Northern Ireland-based food-processing business on a potential breach of post-termination restrictive covenants by a former member of management.
- Advised a Northern Ireland nursery education provider on a variety of term time contracts and policies for pre-school management and staff members, as well as on how to structure employment for a new staff member who was taking up two roles.