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  1. Insolvency and corporate recovery
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Who Represents Who

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Viewed as ‘one of the leading firms in this area in Northern Ireland’, A&L Goodbody’s insolvency practice provides a ‘quality service’ and ‘very strategic’ advice on, among other things, administrations and restructurings in the construction and property sectors. The firm has a track record in assisting a number of the Big Four accountancy firms, including KPMG, Deloitte and PwC. The ‘excellentMichael Neill, who garners praise for ‘his strategic thinking and ability to anticipate and counter the other side’s next moves’, leads the team, which also includes associates Sam Corbett (‘his work ethic is second to none’) and Ross Kane. In a key mandate, Neill led advice to the administrator of Geotech Construction on exiting the administration process; this involved a successful application to the High Court for release and exit from administration, allowing the company to be re-capitalised. In another matter, the group is representing the liquidator of Dornan’s Service Station in a dispute over the ownership of property; the company director claims the property was transferred to him while the liquidator maintains the property is in the name of the company. The firm is continuing to assist banks with the restructuring and sale of loans. Other clients include Santander and Cerberus Capital Management.

Property, construction and agri-food remain key areas of instruction for Arthur Cox Belfast’s insolvency team, which continues to advise administrators, insolvency practitioners and distressed companies on administrations, liquidations and insolvency litigation. Practice head and insolvency expert Kieran McGarrigle is advising the joint supervisors of the insolvent Presbyterian Mutual Society Limited, which is under a scheme of arrangement, on matters involving compliance with the arrangement and enforcement proceedings. In another high-profile matter, the firm defended Ernst & Young as administrator of the Curran Court Hotel against challenges made by the owners concerning the administration and sale of the property. Other key clients for the group include KPMG and PwC.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin has a solid track record advising administrators, company directors and banks on a broad range of insolvency proceedings, including the appointment of fixed charge receivers, administrations, and voluntary and involuntary bankruptcies. In a key mandate, ‘direct and to-the-point’ practice head Jeanette Donohoe led advice to Engage Commercial, which was handling the recovery of several multimillion-pound loans after it acquired a loan portfolio from AIB Bank, on issuing an administration application to a defaulting borrower who was challenging the validity of the entire loan sale. Other key clients include Ernst & Young, which the firm is advising on its appointment as administrator of Cloghogue Enterprises, former owner of a business park in Newry. Ulster Bank, HSBC Bank and Keenan Corporate Finance are also included in the firm’s client base. Caitriona Morgan, who was recently promoted to associate director, is ‘exceptionally knowledgeable on all corporate and personal insolvency matters, as well as being very well organised, and is an excellent ally in a litigation battle’.

Napier and Sons  has an excellent reputation in the insolvency sphere and is noted for its established track record of advice to individuals, banks, insolvency practitioners and their respective accountancy firms. Past instructions for the team include assisting with personal insolvencies, voluntary and involuntary arrangements, corporate restructurings, and cases concerning directors' duties. The highly regarded Maria Glover is noted for her expertise in handling cases involving personal insolvency matters. Senior partner Brigid Napier, who is best known for her experience in voluntary arrangement matters, is another key name. Managing partner John Gordon  is well known for his advice to high-net-worth individuals and experience in contentious insolvency cases.

Tughans’ insolvency practice attracts praise for its ‘very strong business acumen’ and assists banks, accountancy firms, insolvent companies and directors across a spectrum of matters, including the appointment of administrators, debt recovery and liquidation proceedings. Highlights included representing Boxpak in a dispute with insolvent bakery company Reynards and its administrators regarding a £250,000 debt owed to Boxpak alongside stock worth £100,000 held by Reynards, which was subject to a retention of title clause in favour of Boxpak; the stock was successfully returned to the client. Other clients include Bank of Scotland, Keenan Corporate Finance and Bank of Ireland. Toby McMurray and Fearghal O'Loan lead the team, which also includes director Kevin Gallagher, who is singled out for his ‘good attention to detail and commercially minded approach’ towards contentious insolvency matters.

Carson McDowell ’s team provides ‘pragmatic and commercial advice’ on a range of insolvency cases, for clients ranging from accountancy firms and lenders to individuals and distressed companies. Recent work for the firm included high-profile administrations, debt recovery issues and bankruptcies across the healthcare, construction and professional sport sectors. In a key mandate, the group is advising longstanding client Grant Thornton, as administrator of a local trading company, on challenges to the former directors of the trading company, a property unit trust and a local Irish League football club concerning transactions taking place before the insolvency proceedings involving the recovery of a multimillion-pound loan from the trust. Other clients include Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland and the Lakesmere Group. Sinead McGrath leads the team with the ‘very knowledgeable and responsiveDarren Toombs, who is well known for his debt recovery expertise, and senior associate Graeme McKee, who has particular experience in distressed property sales.

Mills Selig ’s ‘very knowledgeable’ insolvency practice provides ‘an excellent service with quick response times’. The ‘very practical’ team has notable strength in handling corporate and personal insolvency cases for high-net-worth individuals, distressed companies, and trustees in bankruptcy; recent instructions include administrations, individual voluntary arrangements, multimillion-pound liquidations, and corporate restructurings, particularly within the construction, professional services and energy sectors. Managing partner John Kearns leads the team; he is ‘very knowledgeable in the area of personal and corporate insolvency’, is ‘practical and pragmatic in his advice’, and has particular experience in enforcement procedures. Senior associate Richard Craig has ‘in-depth knowledge of insolvency law and is a shrewd tactician’ who ‘ensures no stone is left unturned and will go the extra mile for his clients’.

Elliott Duffy Garrett assists administrators and banks with a broad spectrum of insolvency proceedings, including bankruptcy, liquidation, the appointment of administrators and fixed charge receivers, and enforcement issues. The team is acting for Keenan Corporate Finance on the administration of construction company David Patton & Sons, involving ongoing advice concerning redundancies and other insolvencies. In another matter, the group advised Danske Bank on an enforcement of security dispute with one of its bankrupt clients; this involved a possession order being made at the same time as an enforcement of judgment application. Christopher Duffy leads the team, which includes Leo Brown and associate Ian McFarland. Managing partner and consultant Michael Wilson is highly regarded for his insolvency expertise.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s insolvency practice provides ‘good quality advice’ and is ‘very strong’ in the property and construction sectors. It assist with the appointment of fixed charge receivers and administrators, as well as handles liquidation procedures. Highlights included the group acting for Grant Thornton as the fixed charge receiver of lands in County Down; the team advised the client on the ultimate disposal of the lands. Other clients include ASM Accountants, PKF-FPM Accountants and Duff & Phelps. Damian McParland heads the team, which also includes the ‘very responsive’ Simon Fleming, who has an excellent reputation for acting on property-related insolvencies, and solicitor Neil McCreadie.

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