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Insolvency and corporate recovery in Northern Ireland

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody's restructuring and insolvency department has a pre-eminent reputation among local and national banks, financial institutions, funds and insolvency practitioners. It is seen as a go-to for advice on the most high-profile and complex mandates seen in the market, as is reflected by the fact that a significant portion of the work has a cross-border dimension. Also notable is that the firm has played a key role in handling the most significant retail sector failures in the UK and Northern Ireland; in 2020, it acted on seven administrations of well-known retail brands, including those of Peacocks and Accessorize. Elsewhere, in 2020, Ross Kane's work included advising banks on CBIL lending and restructurings in light of the Covid 19 pandemic. In addition, he also assists insolvency practitioners with property-related insolvency issues. Associate Tanya Surgeon specialises in acting for local and national banks in litigation concerning loan enforcement, complex repossession actions and the enforcement of personal guarantees. Managing partner Michael Neill and Sam Corbett co-head the practice.

Practice head(s):

Michael Neill; Sam Corbett

Other key lawyers:

Ross Kane; Áine Hughes; Tanya Surgeon

Testimonials

‘A&L Goodbody has a good balance of high quality partners who work effectively with their associate solicitors in providing quality advice and solutions.’

‘Michael Neill – Highly skilled problem-solver who articulates intelligently based on learned experiences in a meaningful monotone that grabs attention.’

‘Sam Corbett – A highly talented litigation and debt resolution lawyer. It is hard to find the equal of Sam within law firms in Northern Ireland. Top class.’

Great team who provide the best technical insolvency advice in the NI market.’

Sam Corbett, Partner and Tanya Surgeon, Associate. Very responsive, excellent advice and very professional.’

Key clients

Northern Bank Ltd trading as Danske Bank

Bank of Ireland UK plc

Ulster Bank Limited

AIB Group UK plc

HSBC Bank PLC

Deloitte

Grant Thornton

HNH Group

Ernst & Young LLP

KPMG

BDO Northern Ireland

PWC LLP

Cavanagh Kelly

PJG Recovery

Gildernew & Co

Keenan Corporate Finance

FRP Advisory Limited

Alix Partners

Duff & Phelps

Work highlights

  • Advised FRP on the Northern Ireland aspects of seven administrations of well-known retail brands, such as Peacocks, Monsoon, Jaeger, Accessorize and Bonmarche.
  • Advised the administrators of Wrightbus/Wrights Group on various matters arising from its insolvency.
  • Advised Duff & Phelps on its appointment as joint administrators of the George Best Hotel.

Arthur Cox Belfast

Arthur Cox Belfast's full-service offering in the restructuring and insolvency arena has made it a go-to for the most active insolvency practitioners in the market, as well as 'big four' accountancy firms, creditors and company directors. Under the leadership of Stuart Mansfield, the team acts for clients on administrations, receiverships, liquidations and corporate restructurings, among various other scenarios. The department's core restructuring and insolvency expertise is complemented by the firm's strengths in ancillary areas, such as banking and finance, corporate, dispute resolution, employment and property. In addition to being visible in the Northern Ireland market, the firm also acts for clients in cross-border matters; in one example, it is acting for the administrators of Gibraltarian company Abbeytown in a complex administration that involves a criminal investigation against the former directors in Northern Ireland. Colm McElroy is another name to note in the team. In 2020, Kieran McGarrigle left the firm to establish McGarrigle Legal.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Mansfield

Other key lawyers:

Colm McElroy

Testimonials

‘Strong Irish firm focused on client delivery’

‘Strong partner lineup with Colm McElroy considered worth specifically mentioning for this service offering. Fully focused and assignment driven you can always count on quality timely delivery on all legal assignments without compromise. Very knowledgeable on all aspects of insolvency and recovery law and you know you are in safe hands with Colm instructed to represent yourself.’

Key clients

EY

KPMG and Arthur Boyd & Co

KPMG

Deloitte

PwC

Moorfields

Work highlights

  • Advice to administrator in respect of complex administration of high profile construction company, Dixons Contractors Ltd.
  • Advised Deloitte as fixed charge receivers in respect of a complex receivership involving over 40 assets.
  • Advised the administrator of JBE Mechanical Ltd, a large electrical and mechanical contractor.

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell is able to leverage its strengths across a number of disciplines to provide full-service support on the entire ambit of contentious and non-contentious mandates. Its client roster includes insolvency practitioners, banks, corporates and directors. The core restructuring and insolvency team is ably supported by practitioners in areas such as banking and finance, corporate, employment, property and litigation. It is a strong choice for advice on a myriad of complex mandates, including administrations, bankruptcies, receiverships and liquidations. In addition, the group also handles restructurings, as well as debt and asset recovery work. Darren Toombs is highly skilled in insolvency litigation and other recovery-related matters, and he is experienced in advising liquidators, trustees in bankruptcy and administrators. Toombs co-heads the practice with Sinead McGrath, who is knowledgeable about all aspects of solvent and insolvent restructurings.

Practice head(s):

Darren Toombs; Sinead McGrath

Other key lawyers:

Shane McVeigh

Testimonials

‘Legal advice is all about individuals – their competence, their “commerciality” and their ease of relationship. The individuals I have interacted with at Carson McDowell excel in these areas resulting in clear, commercial advice in an efficient and effective manner.’

‘The team stands out among its peers for sector expertise, availability and commerciality.’

‘Darren Toombs stands out for his expert, commercial and pragmatic approach. A stand out practitioner in the area. Trusted by clients and peers.’

‘There is a strong and well regarded team. They have very strong technical background and access to a wide and multi disciplinary practice.’

‘Darren Toombs is very well regarded and is technically very knowledgeable. He is extremely efficient with a turn around time that is second to none. He is excellent at communicating and very commercial in his approach.’

Key clients

Wrightbus Limited (Associated Businesses and Directors)

Van Oord Offshore Wind GMBH

WDR & RT Taggart Limited

Keenan Corporate Finance

HNH Partners

Keenan Corporate Finance

Grant Thornton NI LLP

John Graham Limited

KPMG

EY Belfast

Work highlights

  • Advising the company and the directors of Wrightbus in an accelerated merger and acquisition process prior to its administration.
  • Advising Van Oord Offshore Wind on a construction matter involving an insolvent party.
  • Advising Belfast Harbour Commissioners at a time when one of their most high profile tenants, Harland & Wolff entered Insolvency.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Jeanette Donohoe leads Cleaver Fulton Rankin's practice, which demonstrates strong capabilities in administrations, liquidations, corporate and financial restructurings, and voluntary arrangements. On the transactional side, the team handles disposals of assets, as well as purchases and sales of distressed loans. In addition, contentious work is another mainstay of the practice, including directors disqualification proceedings and fraud-related matters. The client base consists of major Irish banks as well as big UK names such as HSBC and Grant Thornton. The team is equipped to handle disputes and advisory work, with strengths in transactions involving distressed assets as well as debt and equity swaps. Practice head Jeanette Donohoe is highly skilled in insolvency litigation, particularly in cases involving property assets. Stephen Cross and Caroline McLaughlin also have restructuring and insolvency experience. In addition, associate Maria McNally is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Jeanette Donohoe

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Cross; Caroline McLaughlin; Maria McNally; Rachel Kelly; Peter Moorhead

Testimonials

‘Jeanette is a stand out solicitor in the field of insolvency. Her focus is on solutions for borrowers, directors, shareholders. She always aims to drive commercial solutions. She is pragmatic, knowledgeable and patient; a results-driven professional in every respect. Jeanette is one of our ‘go-to’ insolvency solicitors.’

‘Jeanette Donoghue – very experienced, great ability to summarise processes into understandable language.’

‘ Cleaver Fulton Rankin are pragmatic and easy to work with. A straightforward approach and a highly professional service. We feel well guided and reassured at all stages. A very personal service.’

‘ Jeannette Donohue and Maria McNally stand out by virtue of their attention to personal service. They respond quickly and make themselves available at short notice.’

‘I have found working with the Insolvency and Business Restructuring department of Cleaver Fulton Rankin a very positive experience. They were able to understand my requirements and explained the process and outcome in a clear and concise manner.’

‘Jeanette Donohoe is someone you want on your side. Her passion for client service is clear and there is confidence that the best case will be put forward.’

Key clients

Cool Data Centres (Lincoln) Limited

FRP Advisory

Duff & Phelps LLP

Crawfords Accountants

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

McCambridge Duffy LLP

Heavac B.V.

HSBC Bank PLC

Bank of Ireland PLC

HCA Business Recovery Limited

Danske Bank

AIB Group (UK) Plc

Begbies Traynor

BDO Northern Ireland

Keenan CF

Department for Economy for Northern Ireland

Triodos Bank UK Limited

Grant Thornton UK

Harbinson Mulholland

Ipsum Capital

Work highlights

  • Advising the Department on the Scheme of Arrangement made in respect of the Presbyterian Mutual Society. Transaction is worth £225m.
  • DefendingnCool Data Centres (Lincoln) Limited in injunction proceedings brought by the Cool Data Centre’s majority creditor preventing the client company entering administration and subsequently placing the company into administration.
  • Acting on behalf of the administrator on the sale of the former Flagship Shopping Centre in Bangor, Co Down.

TLT

TLT is increasingly gaining recognition in Belfast’s insolvency market, following Caitriona Morgan's arrival from Cleaver Fulton Rankin in 2019 and the hire of Jason Byrne from Shoosmiths LLP in 2020. Its team in Northern Ireland works on a cross-jurisdictional basis with other insolvency groups across the firm's wider UK network. The firm now acts for circa 90% of the insolvency practitioners operating in the Northern Ireland market, and it also generates work from local and UK lenders, as well as household-name retail and hospitality companies. In 2020, highlights included Byrne and Morgan advising a landlord on a proposed CVA by one its tenants, Caffè Nero. BDO, Grant Thornton and KPMG are also key clients.

Practice head(s):

Jason Byrne; Caitriona Morgan

Testimonials

‘The insolvency team within TLT is exceptional. They provide a very high standard of work and are really professional when dealing with them. They have a wealth of knowledge in the sector and are quick to help with any queries or issues.’

‘Caitriona Morgan is an excellent solicitor. Her knowledge of insolvency is outstanding and can quickly help with any query I raise with her. She is friendly and very professional. The standard of work she produces is excellent and I am always happy to instruct her on a case.’

Key clients

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

BDO NI

Grant Thornton NI

Keenan Corporate Finance

Begbies Traynor

KPMG Ireland

PKF/FPM

Arthur Boyd & Company

Cavanagh Kelly

The Company Shop [Belfast]

Work highlights

  • Advising a trustee in bankruptcy in relation to recovery of assets worth £1.5m.
  • Provided insolvency advice to a local retail business in respect of a £10m debt owed to their lender.
  • Advising joint administrators of a former lender in respect of the recovery of assets in Northern Ireland to the value of £3.5m.

Tughans

Toby McMurray leads Tughans' insolvency and restructuring team, which has extensive expertise in corporate restructurings and refinancings, voluntary arrangements, administrations, receiverships and liquidations, among other matters. Working with the corporate and commercial property departments, the group advises on the implications of bankruptcies and insolvencies for corporate transactions and property deals. On the contentious side, drivers of work include asset tracing investigations, directors disqualification proceedings and litigation to unwind fraudulent transactions. The practice's broad geographical footprint is reflected by its work for clients based across the island of Ireland and England and Wales. In one notable mandate, McMurray and director Nadine Brennan are acting for KPMG on the liquidation of The English Studio Limited.

Practice head(s):

Toby McMurray

Other key lawyers:

Nadine Brennan; Ellen Forester

Testimonials

‘Toby McMurray is one of the best insolvency lawyers in Northern Ireland. He is technically brilliant and is well known by all of the main insolvency practitioners. Tughans can handle all aspects of the largest insolvencies and Toby is particularly skilled at getting commercial resolutions of the most intractable disputes.’

Key clients

KPMG

ISL Waste Management Limited

McGrath (Architectural Metalwork) Ltd

Bank of Ireland (UK) plc

Horwood Neill Holmes

Eldufgar Construction Limited

Kilmona Property Limited

Bank of Scotland Plc

Deloitte LLP

Work highlights

  • Advised KPMG on all aspects of the administrations of 4 Lagan Construction Group companies.
  • Advised ISL Waste Management to on a restructuring option which ultimately led to placing the company into administration during the national lockdown.
  • Advising the former directors in the defence of an action brought by HMRC under article 180-181 of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order relating to tax liabilities of McGrath Limited.

Davidson McDonnell Solicitors

Under the leadership of legal director Clare Templeton, Davidson McDonnell Solicitors' team advises clients on a broad spectrum of issues arising from personal and corporate insolvencies. It acts for insolvency office holders in a range of capacities, including as liquidators, administrators and trustees-in-bankruptcy. In addition, the group is experienced in advising lenders and directors of distressed companies. Templeton, who has 25 years of experience in contentious insolvency matters, works with senior solicitor Lindsey Herten.

Practice head(s):

Clare Templeton

Other key lawyers:

Lindsey Harten

Testimonials

The team at Davidson McDonnell is very good. All interactions I have had with them has been professional and any work carried out has been to a very high standard.’

The service they have provided has been to a very high standard with all requests and queries being dealt with and answered quickly and professionally. I think one of their key qualities is that they keep on top of the work and don’t let things drag on.’

Excellent client service. Great balance of a professional and friendly team.’

Lindsey Harten goes the extra mile to get matters resolved. Lindsey is very knowledgeable about her field.’

Key clients

BDO

KPMG

Deliotte

HNH Partners Limited

Keenan Corporate Finance Limited

Cavanagh Kelly

ASM Newry

Lecale Corporate Finance & Restructuring Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Gildernew & Co on the extension of an administration to facilitate the recovery of a significant debtor book.
  • Advising KPMG on various complex and contentious matters relating to a trustee in bankruptcy appointment.
  • Advising Lecale Corporate Finance & Restructuring Limited on the return of monies paid as a preference to a connected person.

DWF

At DWF, Belfast office managing partner Ken Rutherford  has over 25 years of insolvency experience. He has a strong track record advising insolvency practitioners in Northern Ireland on a broad cross-section of matters, such as appointments, the realisation of assets, asset recovery and creditor claims. In addition, Rutherford undertakes a significant amount of work for banks. Under his leadership, the practice is noted for its high level of involvement in restructurings and insolvencies with a nexus to the retail, food and hospitality industries. Rutherford works with James Morrison, who acted as lead counsel to KPMG on the administration of Joe Media.

Practice head(s):

Ken Rutherford

Other key lawyers:

James Morrison

Testimonials

‘DWF (Northern Ireland) LLP has a strong profile acting for commercial lenders and insolvency practitioners in this area. The team have good client relationships, and are able to offer sound legal and practical guidance, aiming to deliver the best outcome for the particular circumstances of the case.’

Key clients

KPMG

RSM

BDO

Bank of Ireland

Allied Irish Banks

HNH

NextGear UK

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

Pepper Group

Cavanagh Kelly

Work highlights

  • Advised KPMG on the administration of Joe Media.

Elliott Duffy Garrett

Elliott Duffy Garrett's multidisciplinary team, which is jointly led by Christopher Duffy and Kevin McVeigh, is sought after by commercial lenders and insolvency practitioners for advice on all aspects of formal and informal insolvency procedures. The group's wide-ranging experience includes restructurings, bankruptcies, administrations, receiverships and liquidations. Duffy has over 25 years of experience of contentious insolvency matters, while McVeigh is known for his focus on transactions, restructurings and other non-contentious work. Leo Brown and Ian McFarland are among other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Duffy; Kevin McVeigh

Other key lawyers:

Michael Wilson; Patricia Beckett; Leo Brown; Ian McFarland

Testimonials

‘The insolvency team in EDG are technically very experienced and have access to incredible resources and experience.’

‘The Elliott Duffy Garrett team is well respected in the legal marketplace in Northern Ireland. Their professionalism is held in high esteem among their client base, fellow legal practitioners and the judiciary alike. They are noted for their legal knowledge, their teamwork, and their cool-headed and pragmatic approach to commercial disputes.’

‘Christopher Duffy is a stand out commercial and insolvency lawyer. He has a well deserved reputation for attention to detail, knowledge of the law, and dedication to his clients. ’

‘Very competent and good attention to detail.’

‘Personal approach.’

Key clients

Northern Bank Limited T/A Danske Bank

Keenan Corporate Finance (Insolvency Practitioners)

BDO Belfast

HNH Group

Ennis Property Finance DAC

Feniton Property Finance DAC

KPMG

McKeague Morgan (Insolvency Practitioners)

Premium Credit Limited

Tennent’s NI

Work highlights

  • Advised Northern Bank and Keenan Corporate Finance on the administration of Shelf 2002.
  • Advised Tennents NI Ltd on an outstanding trade and loan debt.  
  • Advised Keenan Corporate Finance on a dispute which arose from winding up a company in 2015.

Mills Selig

Mills Selig offers ‘practical and pragmatic guidance to office holders, insolvents, creditors and family members’. Equally strong in personal and corporate insolvencies, the team's varied workload includes voluntary arrangements, company restructurings, administrations, receiverships, bankruptcies and liquidations. In addition, it handles purchases and sales of bankrupt businesses. Senior partner John Kearns stands out for his 25 years of experience working on insolvency cases in the local market. He is supported by experienced litigator Richard Craig, who made partner in 2020. The firm regularly generates a strong flow of work from major lenders, as well as insolvency practitioners, accountancy practices and businesses.

Practice head(s):

John Kearns; Richard Craig

Testimonials

‘I would consider them to be one of the most professional legal firms that I have dealt with in my 35 years in business. Mills Selig have over the years provided excellent advice and support when most needed.’

‘Richard was excellent at getting into the detail and understanding what my wife and I had been dealing with over a long period of time. He was diligent in keeping us informed of who he was dealing with and what was required to bring a our circumstances to an acceptable conclusion. We will be forever grateful for his expertise and skill.’

‘Richard Craig has a great attitude and is renowned for his work on difficult cases.’

‘Mills Selig offers a strong presence in this practice area, offering practical and pragmatic guidance to office holders, insolvents, creditors and family members. Where the needs of the case demand it, Mills Selig will fight the case, but always focussed on finding the best result for the client.’

‘John Kearns is a very experienced practitioner, offering clients sound, pragmatic advice. Richard Craig is experienced and knowledgeable in using the appropriate litigation and ADR processes to enable his clients to meet their aims.’

Key clients

PKF-FPM Accountants

Gildernew & Co Accountants

Keenan CF

Grant Thornton

Hannaway CA

Cavanagh Kelly

HNH Group

Arthur Boyd & Co

McKeague Morgan

Rachel Fowler Advisory

Work highlights

  • Advised a property developer on a debt settlement agreement with Promontoria.
  • Advising a local printing company on the procedure for appointment of an administrator where the sole director died while in office.