Employment in Northern Ireland
Gareth Walls leads the practice at A&L Goodbody and is singled out for his work in discrimination cases; other areas of expertise include immigration work, TUPE regulations, redundancies and restructurings. Walls also regularly advises on topical issues including modern slavery matters and diversity and inclusion mandates. At the junior level, associates Shirley Blair, who is experienced in handling restrictive covenants and judicial reviews in the education sector, and Andrew Spratt, who has advised on mass redundancies, are also highly recommended.
J&E Davy Stockbrokers
Asgard Financial Services Limited
Spence & Partners Limited
Council For Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) on behalf of Lismore Comprehensive College
A US Rating and Bond Agency
- Advised J E Davy Stockbroker on implementing the FCA’s Senior Managers and Certification Regime.
- Advised Thomas Cook on the employment aspects of its liquidation.
- Advised US company Proofpoint on local employment issues.
Arthur Cox Belfast regularly represents clients before the employment and industrial tribunal courts, with notable strength in handling unfair dismissal claims, whistleblowing cases and discrimination issues. Rosemary Lundy leads the practice and has handled a high volume of tribunal work; she also assists the corporate practice with the employment elements of M&A deals. Emma-Jane Flannery is another key name in the practice and is active in discrimination claims, acting for a client roster containing a number of multinational companies.
Other key lawyers:
Spirt Aero Systems Limited
Agro Merchants Group
Woodland Kitchens (N.I.) Limited
TRU Hotels & Resorts LLC
Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland
Ann’s Home Care Limited
Paddy Power Betfair
Moy Park Limited
- Defended Stryker Corporation against a political discrimination claim.
- Advised Spirit Aerosystems Limited on the employment aspects of its acquisition of Bombardier’s Belfast base.
- Defended Agro Merchants Company in a large multi-claimant action by 106 employees involving the calculation of holiday pay.
Carson McDowell handles the full spectrum of employment work and is instructed by heavily unionised and quasi-public entities including Ulster University, Translink and Royal Mail. The 'very personable, efficient and hardworking' Orlagh O’Neill leads the team and is particularly strong at handling grievance and whistleblowing investigations. Rachel Penny, who is an expert in TUPE regulations and restructuring mandates, is also a key name to note.
‘All good – all very knowledgeable, Orlagh O’Neill – very personable efficient and hard working.’
‘Sarah Cochrane has an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the various aspects of employment law. ‘
‘Sarah has the ability to think logical through issues and provide advice that is practical and effective. Sarah is familiar with the legal processes and can proceed quickly and efficiently to a resolution.’
‘Strength and depth across a wide range of legal topics, allowing quick responses whatever the issue.’
‘Orlagh O’Neill – strong, consistent, pragmatic and commercial, Orlagh is the first port of call for all Human Resource related matters. Advice is clear and sensible and with strong commercial focus, allowing us to deal with issues early and, often, once only.’
‘From working with Orlagh and the team over the last 10 years I can honestly say their professionalism, quick response and expert knowledge and experience in employment law are their key strengths.’
‘I have complete confidence in them as a team that they are providing our business with the expert advice that we need to ensure we remain complaint and reduce our risks of facing complex legal challenge. ‘
‘Orlagh O’Neill and Sarah Cochrane have both been stand out names for me. Both have were keen to understand our business before providing the relevant expert experience. They both provide me with the confidence that no matter what employment law challenges we face they are at the cutting edge of the latest thinking and keep us abreast of what’s happening in the courts so we get ahead and adapt our internal policies/process when necessary.’
Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners (Foyle Port)
Royal Mail Group Limited
Grand Opera House Trust
Concentrix CVG Intelligent Contact Limited
Hampton Conservatories Limited
Association of Optometrists
British Medical Association
- Advised Grand Opera House Trust on the employee implications of its significant renovation project which resulted in the closure of the theatre for 10 months.
- Advised the British Medical Association on all its employment related issues in Northern Ireland including issues concerning consultants’ remuneration and the operation of consultants’ pension schemes.
- Advised Translink on all its key employment and HR requirements.
Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors
Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors has a unique position in the Belfast market as a specialist employment firm, and handles the gamut of employment work. The team is led by three partners: Fiona Cassidy, Adam Brett and Ciara Fulton. Cassidy works on contentious and non-contentious matters and is particularly adept at advising on issues pertaining to equal opportunities, while Brett is a prominent litigator and regularly handles discrimination claims. Fulton is qualified in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, allowing her to advise clients on issues across the island. Beverley Jones has retired.
Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP
Clients instruct Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP for 'the broad level of knowledge that can be resourced throughout the firm'; the group has expertise in contentious and non-contentious matters and fields team members with additional qualifications in England and Wales and the Republic of Ireland. The team has attracted substantial names in the UK and Ireland to its client roster; examples include Primark, Dixons Carphone and Royal Bank of Scotland. The 'excellent' Paul Gillen leads the team and 'is ably assisted' by associate Craig Patterson.
Other key lawyers:
‘The broad level of knowledge that can be resourced throughout the company.’
‘Willingness to share information and keep clients up to speed through regular webinars and guidance notes.’
‘Paul Gillen has a great understanding of our industry, he makes time to listen and is always willing to explain. His level of knowledge and the depth of his experience on employment issues speaks volumes for him and the company.’
‘He is ably assisted by his team – Craig Patterson. Individual, personal approach with exceptional knowledge in the area – Paul Gillen and Craig Patterson are excellent to work with. Always available and very responsive.’
Primark Stores Ltd
BAE Systems Group
Diageo Group Plc
Queen’s University Belfast
Fujitsu Services Ltd
Henderson Foodservice Group
Magellan Areospace (Greyabbey) Ltd
Survitec Group Limited
Dixons Carphone Plc
Royal Bank of Scotland Group / Ulster Bank Limited
- Advised EP UK Investments on the employment issues arising from the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of AES Ballylumford Limited and AES Kilroot Limited from the AES Corporation.
- Acting for Queen’s University Belfast in a complex discrimination case, including race, political opinion and religion issues, and allegations of historical discrimination and victimisation.
- Advised Idox plc on its acquisition of Tascomi Limited and related institutional placing on AIM to fund the acquisition price.
Tughans is particularly active in advising on the employment aspects of M&A transactions, and also acts in injunctive applications, unfair dismissal disputes and discrimination claims. Anna Beggan leads the team and has acted before the Employment and Industrial Tribunal courts, as well as the High Court. Patricia Rooney is highly skilled in TUPE and outsourcing issues.
Other key lawyers:
‘The speed of response to a query is second to none. I have complete confidence in Anna Beggan and her team. They act with integrity in a conscientious and efficient way in all matters.’
Northern Ireland Water Limited
Agri Food and Biosciences Institute
Westland Horticulture Limited
Monaghan Mushrooms Group
Techstart Venestures LLP
- Advised Foresight Group LLP on the employment aspects of its growth capital investment into Northern Irish private healthcare business, 352 Medical Group Limited.
- Advised the shareholders of Tascomi on the employment aspects of the company’s sale.
- Acted for Deloitte LLP as administrators of five of the Wrightbus Group companies.
With particular strength in advising public sector bodies and non-profit organisations, Cleaver Fulton Rankin has a full-service employment law practice with a notable focus on immigration issues and discrimination claims. Michael Black leads the team and has acted for clients in the Fair Employment and Industrial tribunals, particularly in equality and discrimination litigation. Director Aisling Byrne is another key name, who regularly advises on issues relating to the island of Ireland.
Other key lawyers:
‘Excellent customer service provided along with extensive knowledge of relevant employment legislation.’
‘Michael Black gave me his contact details and on a number of occasions it was necessary to contact Michael outside of working hours e.g. evenings, weekends. The advice, knowledge and assistance provided by Michael Black regarding a extremely difficult employment issue was exceptional.’
‘Michael and his team including Aisling Byrne responded to all queries and issues raised in a knowledgeable, timely and efficient manner.’
‘The legal advice given was clear and unambiguous. This was very helpful to me as Board Chair providing progress reports and seeking approval for various issues from the other Board members. Michael provided Disciplinary Panel awareness training to Board members which was very much appreciated.’
Belfast City Council
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
Regen Waste Ltd
Vox Financial Partners
Invest Northern Ireland
Legrande AV Netherlands B.V.
- Assisting Belfast City Council with the review of its existing HR policies and the development of new ones.
- Advised Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on its employment matters.
- Advised on a number of contentious and non contentious employment law matters for Invest Northern Ireland.
The 'exceptional' Elliott Duffy Garrett regularly represents clients in complex discrimination claims before tribunal and civil courts. Managing partner Adrienne Brock leads the team and covers all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment work. Julie Anne Clarke is also recommended and is particularly prominent in unfair dismissal and redundancy claims.
Other key lawyers:
“EDG are an exceptional law firm. They’re clarity of instruction is first class, they listen to what is actually needed. They take time to understand the case and they advise both pragmatically and practically the next steps to be taken.’
‘They set out clear paths, time frames and give a clear understanding of all the issues involved. Their employment law services are first class and in particular Adrienne Brock is exceptional.’
‘Adrienne Brock has been brilliant with us in terms of advice and guidance on employment law issues. She listens to the situations and provides sound and robust advice for the management and resolution of these issues. She was always on the end of phone when needed and her diligence to our needs and demands is excellent.’
Iceland Foods Ltd
Ulster Bank Limited
United Dairy Farmers Limited
NI Chest Heart & Stroke Association
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
The General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland
- Defended a third sector client in two sets of Industrial Tribunal proceedings claiming equal pay, age discrimination and a second claim alleging victimisation.
- Advised a charity sector client on the termination of employment of a fixed-term employee and associated management issues as the employee was challenging the non-renewal of her contract on its expiry.
- Acted for a private sector client in disciplinary proceedings involving a long-serving employee, who occupied the role of duty manager.
Eversheds Sutherland acts for household names including M&S, Specsavers and Sky on a range of employment matters including representing clients in employment tribunals, and handling grievances, outsourcing issues and matters involving TUPE regulations. Lisa Bryson leads the team and is notably active in the retail, financial services and TMT sectors.
‘Lisa Bryson – a market leader in the field, great knowledge of all areas of employment law and very easy to work with.’
‘Lisa Bryson in NI – very commercial, quick to respond, quick grasp of the tricky issues.’
Countrywide Freight Group Limited
Kingfisher plc – B&Q
Kingspan Water & Energy Limited
Marks & Spencer plc
Northern Ireland Hospice
Westmond Logistics Limited
Brakes / Pallas Foods
Kestrel Thermoplastics Limited
- Provided tribunal representation for a number of retail clients in claims of unfair dismissal, unlawful deductions of wages (holiday pay), discrimination and whistleblowing.
- Advised a client on the employment and TUPE implications of a number of complex outsourcing and insourcing matters with cross-jurisdiction considerations.
- Advised clients on the people and workplace issues connected to Brexit including the issues which arise for employees who reside in Northern Ireland but travel to work each day in the Republic of Ireland.
Millar McCall Wylie LLP's employment department operates under the leadership of Jan Cunningham, who acts in contentious issues in the Fair Employment and Industrial Tribunal courts; he also handles advisory issues including matters involving TUPE regulations and the employment aspects of M&A transactions. Associate David Mitchell is also singled out.
Other key lawyers:
Irish Rugby Football Union
Quinn Building Products Limited
Learning Pool Limited
Trouw (UK) Limited
GVC Holdings (UK) Limited
Specsavers Optical Group Limited
Avon Cosmetics Limited
- Advising the Irish Rugby Football Union on a wide range of employment and HR-related matters.
- Acted for RMS Cash Solutions Ltd in an unfair dismissal claim.
- Advised Trouw on the introduction of significant contractual changes to include work shift patterns, working hours and pay.
Rosemary Connolly Solicitors Limited's practice is led by name partner Rosemary Connolly, who stands out for her expertise in equality and discrimination law; she was previously a director of legal services for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. She also acts for corporates and public bodies in employment tribunals as well as before the High Court and county courts.
Worthingtons is singled out for its tribunal experience, acting for a client base consisting of local banks, councils and colleges. The 'outstanding' Louise McAloon leads the practice and has recently acted in contentious matters involving issues of public interest disclosure, equal pay, discrimination and unfair dismissal. She is supported by Niall McMullan, who has a similar focus on contentious work, particularly in relation to flexible working detriments and discrimination claims.
Other key lawyers:
‘The employment team at Worthingtons, led by Louise McAloon, are the people I always recommend if anyone asks for a recommendation for an employment law solicitor in Northern Ireland.’
‘They have a high level of expertise across the wide range of areas that fall under the employment law ‘umbrella’. However, in my view, their abilities go far beyond simply having an excellent knowledge of the very wide range of employment law issues which may arise.’
‘Every member of the team is able to communicate often complex issues in a straightforward manner which the client understands. They are all very dedicated and respond to client queries, often on complex matters, extremely promptly. ‘
‘They have excellent analytical skills. When a client seeks advice on a proposed course of action they will always be thinking of the wider picture and the various other issues, risks/benefits etc. that could potentially arise. Rather than just giving advice on whether something can be done or how it should be done they will be identifying what the client’s motivation is and what they are hoping to achieve and then advise on the best method of achieving that, whilst keeping risk, potential costs etc. in mind at all times. ‘
‘In litigation they display sound judgement and give straightforward advice. In addition they will always be thinking of any wider implications for an organisation arising out of the litigation or any future issues which could arise and give advice on how to deal with such matters.’
‘Louise McAloon is one of the leading employment law solicitors in Northern Ireland. Her depth and breadth of knowledge is outstanding. She has an excellent manner when addressing difficult and challenging issues with clients. She is able to explain both complicated legal issues and also more subtle evidential points during running cases in a way that means the client quickly grasps the issue.’
‘Louise will always advise clients on the wider implications for the organisation arising out of the particular situation or proposed course of action that the client seeks advice on. She is also incredibly tactically astute when involved in litigation and has excellent judgement. She has a real feel for the ebb and flow of running cases, whether to call evidence on certain matters or not, whether to pursue issues in cross-examination or whether to let them lie, what to focus on in submissions and what to perhaps gloss over!’
North West Regional College
Derry City & Strabane District Council
- Advised a company in the financial services sector on the management of a data breach by a departing senior executive including information retrieval, securing appropriate legal undertakings and advice regarding the ICO referral.
- Successfully defended Derry City and Strabane District Council against a group action brought by 13 former employees alleging breach of contract and equal pay in the County Court.
- Successfully defended North West Regional College against a claim of unfair dismissal where the claimant was dismissed for alleged sexual harassment.
Mills Selig's practice is led by Kiera Lee, who advises on the employment aspects of M&A transactions and restructurings; she also has a strong track record in handling mass redundancies, unfair dismissals and the exits of senior executives. The group's client base consists of major domestic companies including Bamford Bus Company, First Derivative and the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society.
Bamford Bus Company
Fannin (NI) Limited
First Derivatives Plc
Golf Holdings Limited
Hospital Services Limited
Lloyds Development Capital Limited
Royal Ulster Agricultural Society
Smorgs (Travel Lodge)
Warrenpoint Harbour Authority
- Advised Bamford Bus Company on its acquisition of Wrightbus.
- Advised on the multi-million pound sale of Novosco.
- Advised the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society on accessibility issues at its Balmoral show.
Thompsons NI Solicitors is unique in the market in that it predominantly represents trade unions and their members in litigation, with recently highlights including matters involving TUPE regulations, wage claims, pension-linked discrimination and holiday pay issues. George Kilpatrick is the key name to note.
- Represented a pharmacy support worker who sought to exercise her statutory and contractual right to return to work early from maternity leave.
- Acted for a trade union member in a case where they were made redundant and their employer failed to pay the redundancy pay in its entirety.
- Represented a trade union in a claim against a bankrupt company, which arranged mass redundancies without consulting the union.
TLT's 'professional, confident and extremely knowledgeable' employment practice is led by legal director Leeanne Armstrong, who started the practice in 2018 following her recruitment from Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP. She handles general advisory work and also acts in tribunal litigation including discrimination claims, contract breach issues and unfair dismissal cases.
‘The depth of knowledge is impressive and the level of responsiveness is always reliable.’
‘Leeanne Armstrong is always fully engaged and focused. Her work has integrity and her fantastic interpersonal skills added to her depth of knowledge make her a really trusted adviser.’
‘Everyone within the TLT team I have interacted with have been excellent.’
‘Professional, confident, extremely knowledgeable and well respected. I have worked in the main with Leeanne Armstrong. Leanne stand-outs out as very personable and I can see she has the respect of all her peers.’
Lough Erne Resort
Par Fund Management Limited
- Advised Lough Erne Resort on its handbook and policies.
- Advised Braidwater Group on day-to-day HR matters.
- Advised Par Fund Management Limited on general employment matters.