Employment in Northern Ireland
A&L Goodbody's team of 'highly knowledgeable trusted advisers' handles contentious employment work, advises on the employment aspects of major corporate transactions, equality and discrimination matters, and business immigration, as well as providing HR advice. 'Exceptional' practice head Gareth Walls is noted for his strength in employment injunctions.
Other key lawyers:
Shirley Blair; Andrew Spratt; Jill Gracey; Jonathan Simpson
‘Gareth Walls is a great partner, who understands the client’s business and gives good, timely advice.’
‘The team gives a real sense of support and calm reassurance during challenging and emotionally charged disputes.‘
‘Gareth Walls is exceptional. He is professional, calm and highly intelligent in his approach to settling disputes, but also he has a high level of emotional intelligence and understands how difficult disputes are on a personal level. He is supportive and reassuring. Gareth is confident and direct in his negotiations and takes no nonsense. He demonstrates a high level of creativity in solving disputes.‘
‘This is one of the strongest employment teams in Belfast.‘
‘Gareth Walls is one of the heavyweight employment solicitors in Northern Ireland. He is able to deal with the most complex, difficult and sensitive cases; he has a technical knowledge which is second to none and is known for his ability to stand up for his client.‘
‘The team is particularly talented at looking at the broader picture and assessing the impact of decisions further on down the line. Much of this comes from the uniquely collaborative approach they take to working with others in their team, with their colleagues in other departments and with counsel when required.‘
‘The team can adapt to work with each client and absolutely understands their requirements.‘
‘The team’s strengths and key capabilities are responsiveness, commercial awareness, approachability, forensic knowledge, and innovation. The stand-out quality of the team is its ability and desire to find innovative client solutions to any problem that may arise.‘
‘The team as a whole is head and shoulders above other firms in this field in this jurisdiction.‘
‘Gareth Walls is the driving force behind this exceptional team. He commands clients’ respect and it is clear he knows this field in forensic detail. I simply would not look past him in the field of employment injunctions.‘
‘Jill Gracey has an instinctively corporate approach and can appreciate the impact of real-time decisions on long-term strategy later down the line.‘
‘Andrew Spratt is very confident with clients and has an instinctive ability to understand precisely what a client needs in the course of litigation.‘
‘Jonathan Simpson’s knowledge is exceptional. He has a detailed and forensic knowledge of this field which is hugely impressive.‘
‘Associate Emerald Ellison has the ability to distill complex issues in cases.‘
‘Shirley Blair stands out for her quick response times and understanding of the complex and wide-ranging issues dealt with by clients in the education sector.‘
‘The practice offers a personal touch; the team understands the client’s business and needs.‘
‘The A&L Goodbody team is unique in the way it offers a holistic service. Their support goes beyond giving advice on one-off specific issues, instead taking a broader approach to considering the client’s end-to-end employment relationships with its staff.‘
‘It is the personalised service and willingness to go the extra mile that makes Gareth Walls and Jill Gracey stand out.‘
‘A&L Goodbody has a team of experts who provide excellent advice and support across a number of complex employment areas from employee relations to immigration.‘
‘The team has a deep understanding of the client’s business operations and strategy, and provide valuable external and neutral input to assist in navigating challenging issues as they arise. They have in-depth knowledge and will refer to the relevant person to provide the right support.‘
‘Gareth Walls is very easy to approach about any problems and provides clear and concise advice.‘
Mamas and Papas
William Hill Gaming
Whitby Seafoods Limited
Northern Ireland Cancer Fund For Children
Progressive Building Society
Dalata Hotel Group
- Defending a global insurance business against a multi-faceted tribunal claim issued by a senior executive.
- Defending AS Watson Group (in relation to its Superdrug and Savers retail stores) against a wide-ranging constructive dismissal claim brought by a store manager against Superdrug.
- Acting for a global technology retailer in an unfair dismissal claim, relating to the termination of a longstanding employee’s employment following allegations of gross misconduct.
- Advising a local cancer charity on urgent legal issues in relation to the exit of the longstanding founder and CEO of the charity, following allegations of gross misconduct and capability issues.
- Advising a local utility provider in relation to employment matters.
Arthur Cox Belfast provides advice on corporate transactions, including assisting with potential TUPE matters, as well as representing clients in a wide range of tribunal disputes. The firm also handles business immigration matters such as visa applications and provides an all-island pensions service. Clients include a number of international investors. Team head Rosemary Lundy has particular expertise in whistleblowing, equality and discrimination cases, while Emma-Jane Flannery specialises in disciplinary and grievance matters.
Other key lawyers:
Emma-Jane Flannery; Chris Fullerton
‘The team has great knowledge on employment matters and understands the relationship between business and employment law.‘
‘Rosemary Lundy is very knowledgeable and understands where the client is coming from.‘
‘The team is very professional and competent.‘
‘Rosemary Lundy, Emma-Jane Flannery and Chris Fullerton provide advice in a straightforward way, making it easy to follow and understand.‘
‘The team at Arthur Cox is excellent and has a vast breadth of knowledge and experience.‘
‘Chris Fullerton, Emma-Jane Flannery and Rosemary Lundy are exceptional. They are all very experienced and work seamlessly as a team. The advice provided is always detailed and draws on the experience they have of working with us on other cases in the past.‘
‘Arthur Cox is very professional and offers a comprehensive service which serves the needs of the client.‘
Thompson Aero Seating Limited
Strategic Investment Board
Christian Dior (UK) Limited
Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland Limited (franchisee of the Coca-Cola Company)
Norbrook Laboratories Limited
Lough Erne Resort
- Advising ARC21, an umbrella waste management group in Northern Ireland which represents six councils, on the implementation of GDPR in May 2018.
- Advising Thompson Aero Seating Limited on a wide variety of employment law matters and defending the company in a number of cases before the Industrial Tribunal.
- Advising the Strategic Investment Board Limited (SIB) on the full range of employment issues and defending the client against multiple claims in both the Industrial Tribunal and High Court in Northern Ireland arising out of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 as applied in Northern Ireland.
- Defending Christian Dior UK Limited against a claim to the Industrial Tribunal alleging unfair dismissal and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
- Defending Moy Park against employment claims brought in the Industrial Tribunal for unfair dismissal, discrimination and holiday pay.
Carson McDowell's 'excellent' team is noted for its 'knowledge and availability'. It acts for leading local, UK-wide and Republic of Ireland companies, advising on a wide range of contentious employment matters, as well as non-contentious and corporate employment law. 'Outstanding' practice head Orlagh O'Neill specialises in contentious employment, with particular expertise in grievance and whistleblowing investigations, while Rachel Penny's areas of strength include TUPE and restructuring matters.
Other key lawyers:
Rachel Penny; Sarah Cochrane; Leona Rankin
‘There is an exceptional depth and breadth of relevant experience across the team, in terms of both partners and associates.‘
‘Rachel Penny is simply outstanding: highly commercial, highly practical, and very attentive to the nuances of specific cases. She is great to deal with and a real people person.‘
‘Leona Rankin is very attentive, with very keen eye for detail, highly responsive and exceptionally professional.‘
‘The team provides sound, pragmatic advice and solutions in a timely manner, even in some complex scenarios.‘
‘Orlagh O’Neill consistently and speedily provides sound advice and assistance which is both practical and solution focused. It is always a pleasure to work with her.‘
Royal Mail Group
Belfast Harbour Commissioners
Santander UK Plc
Statsport Group Limited
Tayto Group Limited
- Advising the shareholders of Prestige Insurance Holdings Limited (which owns Northern Ireland’s leading insurance broker, Abbey) on the employment aspects of the sale of a majority shareholding in the company to Capital Z Partners Management, LLC.
- Advising SHS Group Limited on the employment-related aspects of the acquisition of 3V Natural Foods Limited.
- Assisting Royal Mail with a wide range of advice on employment, discrimination and equality matters and defending the client against claims in the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals.
- Advising Translink on employment law matters such as grievances and disciplinaries and defending the client against tribunal claims.
- Advising Ulster University on immediate employment issues such as performance management and appraisal, equal opportunity procedures, harassment, bullying, disability discrimination and termination of employment procedures, as well as representing the client in tribunal claims.
Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors
Employment law boutique Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors advises on the full range of employment law matters, including discrimination and human rights issues. The team represents both employers and employees, with clients including public sector bodies such as local councils and education institutions, large corporates, and charities. The 'outstanding' Adam Brett leads the experienced team, which also includes Fiona Cassidy, Ciara Fulton, who is praised for her 'pragmatic, straightforward and collaborative approach', and consultant Beverley Jones.
‘Jones Cassidy Brett is exceptional. The team’s work is professional and thorough, and they have strong knowledge of the industry. Their advice, case management, and overall outcomes in employment tribunals are superb.‘
Tughans advises on corporate employment law, such as the employment aspects of large-scale M&A transactions, as well as representing clients in contentious disputes, including tribunal claims, class actions and injunctive applications. The team acts for local clients, as well as those in England and Wales and the Republic of Ireland, in a range of sectors, including public sector bodies. Practice head Anna Beggan specialises in complex class actions and TUPE issues. Patricia Rooney was promoted to partner.
Other key lawyers:
Patricia Rooney; Rachel Richardson
‘The team provides a very professional, competent service.‘
‘Rachel Richardson and Anna Beggan are excellent in terms of their knowledge and professionalism and provide very practical advice.‘
‘Tughans has a very experienced and proactive team.‘
‘Anna Beggan knows her subject well.‘
Monaghan Mushrooms Group
FP McCann Group
- Advising the shareholders of Vita Liberata Limited on the employment aspects of the exit of private equity shareholder Broadlake Capital and the roll-over investment of management when Vita Liberata was acquired by Crown Laboratories.
- Advising Elite Electronics on the employment aspects of of the large private equity investment by Lonsdale Capital.
- Advising the selling shareholders of William J.M. Fraser & Co. Limited on the employment aspects of the sale of the company to Gardrum Holdings Ltd.
- Assisting Staffline Group plc with the employment issues relating to its purchase of the Irish business of Grafton Recruitment.
- Advising Westland Horticulture Limited on employment aspects of the acquisition of the business and assets of Gardman Limited (in administration).
Cleaver Fulton Rankin's 'attentive, available and on-the-ball' team represents a number of large employers in contentious disputes, as well as advising on the employment aspects of corporate transactions and matters ranging from pensions to business immigration. It is noted for its strength in acting for public and education sector clients. The 'supportive and forward-thinking' Michael Black leads the team, which also includes associate director Aisling Byrne, who specialises in TUPE and procurement advice.
Other key lawyers:
Aisling Byrne; Nathan Campbell
‘Michael Black and Nathan Campbell are straight talking, helpful and able to handle the toughest challenges with a cool and calm manner.’
‘The team has a very tactful, supportive and pragmatic manner. You are always confident of having received very sound advice.‘
‘Michael Black offers exceptional support; he is very pragmatic and empathetic and the advice he gives demonstrates his sound knowledge and understanding of the client’s business.‘
‘Aisling Byrne sensibly understands the context of the client’s sector and organisation and crafts her advice accordingly.‘
‘The team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin has excellent knowledge of the sector and the challenges being faced and the advice and support is always provided with this in mind.‘
‘Michael Black has an excellent understanding of the sector and always provides clear advice and solutions for the client.‘
‘Aisling Byrne is an outstanding solicitor: she has vast knowledge of employment law and is also commercially and business savvy. She takes a real interest in the client’s business, which means her advice is always grounded in a practical context, ensuring the best possible outcomes.‘
Titanic Belfast Ltd
Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council
Regen Waste Ltd
H&MV Engineering Ltd
John Brown University
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
Livestock & Meat Commission for Northern Ireland
GTT EMEA Ltd
- Advising Titanic Belfast on the implementation of GDPR and on general employment matters ranging from disciplinary and grievance issues to drafting policies and procedures.
- Advising Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on GDPR implementation and the employment and pensions aspects of the council’s cleaning and catering tender, which was redrafted prior to the re-tendering process, among other matters.
- Advising Regen Waste on TUPE issues and director service agreements, among other matters.
- Advising InVision on the termination of an employee’s employment and the ensuing employment dispute, as well as redundancy law requirements relating to the closure of the client’s Derry office.
- Advising H&MV Engineering Ltd on immigration matters, including visa applications and the upcoming potential effect of Brexit on its cross-border activities.
Elliott Duffy Garrett primarily represents employer clients, with particular strength in the public sector. The team handles contentious employment matters, equality and trade union and industrial relations issues, and corporate employment law. 'Very credible and experienced' practice head Adrienne Brock leads the team; Julie Anne Clarke has expertise in financial services, agri-food and manufacturing; newly promoted partner Ian McFarland specialises in corporate insolvency; and associate Chiara Hutton is experienced in data protection issues.
‘I have always been impressed with the team’s breadth of knowledge, responsiveness and clear advice. They are very supportive in what can be quite challenging situations and very cost effective for an excellent service.’
‘Adrienne Brock stands out for her responsiveness, clear reviews and guidance, and real understanding of the culture within the client’s business.’
‘The service the team provides feels comparable to an in-house service. They understand our business and our culture.’
‘Elliott Duffy Garrett has a very knowledgeable and responsive team, which takes a practical approach to problem solving and is willing to work closely with us to deliver satisfactory outcomes.‘
‘Julie Anne Clarke always provides wise counsel on a range of employment-related issues.‘
‘The team provides authoritative, pragmatic and responsive legal advice. They know the law inside out and use this knowledge to add value and come up with practical solutions to everyday business issues and problems.‘
‘Julie Anne Clarke provides outstanding employment law advice. She always makes herself available and always delivers timely, thorough advice.‘
United Dairy Farmers Ltd
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Iceland Foods Ltd
Bryson Charitable Group
Choice Housing Ireland Ltd
Special EU Programmes Body
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke Association
- Defending a client against Industrial Tribunal claim proceedings in relation to backdated claim for holiday pay.
- Advising a client in relation to complex management issues involving a senior employee.
- Representing a client in high-profile disciplinary dismissal and tribunal proceedings.
- Advising a client on the the dismissal, via a compromise agreement, of a senior employee.
Millar McCall Wylie LLP regularly acts for employers, including local and international companies, on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters, such as TUPE issues arising from corporate transactions. The team is also 'very respected in the claimant space', representing employees in the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals. Practice head Jan Cunningham specialises in advising sporting bodies on all aspects of employment law.
Other key lawyers:
‘Millar McCall Wylie has a young dynamic employment team with a clear understanding of client needs. They are detailed and pragmatic in case evaluation.‘
‘Jan Cunningham is a great communicator and brings an enthusiasm to this complex area of law. Always approachable, he is able to bring clear and concise arguments to the table. His detailed knowledge in bringing and presenting cases at hearing is quite exceptional.‘
‘The team at Millar McCall Wylie is highly professional, with a depth of legal knowledge alongside a commercial and practical viewpoint on any issues which may arise.‘
‘Jan Cunningham and his team provide excellent advisory services and take the time to build up their knowledge around the client’s service sector.‘
‘The team’s relatability, knowledge and methods of explaining the law and how it applies to the client’s situation is second to none.‘
‘Louise McNally is a fantastic solicitor; the advice she gives is clear and she is always on top of the client’s case and nothing is ever left unresolved. She is knowledgable, approachable, friendly and organised.‘
‘Jan Cunningham provides sensible, practical HR advice, not just theoretical responses.’
Ulster Branch, Irish Rugby Football Union
GVC Group Limited
Sean Graham Bookmakers
Hamy Ltd t/a Futurli
Avon Cosmetics Limited
Grant Thornton Limited
- Providing employment advice to the Irish Rugby Football Union (Ulster Rugby) in respect of the criminal trials of Irish international rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
- Representing Learning Pool Limited in the defence of tribunal claims for breach of contract, disability discrimination and constructive dismissal.
- Defending Synergy Promotions Limited against tribunal claims for breach of contract and unfair dismissal.
- Advising GVC Holdings Limited (which owns Ladbrokes and other well-known companies) on the introduction of work policies in its Northern Irish establishments.
- Advising the Northern Ireland Screen Commission on the effect that lack of ministerial approval would have on publicly funded jobs.
Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP advises Northern Irish, UK-wide and international companies on contentious and non-contentious employment matters ranging from TUPE and outsourcing issues to complex discrimination cases. Paul Gillen heads the firm's Belfast and Dublin teams; he 'epitomises what good client care should look like'. Gillen has particular expertise in advising higher education, retail and public sector clients on employment issues.
Other key lawyers:
‘Pinsent Masons offers more than reactive employment law. The team is professional in all encounters, providing rational advice, but also considers the wider business objectives within case management.‘
‘Craig Patterson stands out for his honesty, experience, skillset, integrity and balanced approach in making clear decisions. He is supportive in mitigating risk to the client’s business and thorough with cases.‘
‘The sheer commitment of the employment team at Pinsent Masons to deliver good outcomes for the customer and to the community is second to none. Paul Gillen is accessible to all clients – an often rare quality in such a busy practice.‘
‘Paul Gillen and HR manager Gill Warwick are attentive to detail, considered in their approach and mindful of negative impact.‘
Primark Stores Ltd
Tata Steel UK Limited
CAF Rail Group
Queen’s University Belfast
Fujitsu Services Ltd
Henderson Foodservice Group
Magellan Aerospace (Greyabbey) Ltd
Concentrix Europe Limited
Gilbert Ash Limited
Allstate Northern Ireland
Survitec Group Limited
Liberty Information Technology Limited
- Advising Liberty Information Technology Limited on Brexit planning for its businesses in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
- Advising Portman Healthcare Limited on general employment issues and dispute support, including employment due diligence and the operation and implementation of the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations.
- Advising Linnaeus Group on the employment aspects of a number of acquisitions of veterinary practices in England.
- Advising Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council on the employment aspects of the outsourcing and renewal of a number of services contracts.
- Advising a consortium on the employment aspects of its purchase of Dundalk Town FC, including due diligence on the current employment contracts of directors, staff and players.
Rosemary Connolly Solicitors Limited
Boutique employment firm Rosemary Connolly Solicitors Limited primarily acts for employees and is highly active representing clients in the employment tribunals and higher courts. Practice leader Rosemary Connolly has a wide-ranging caseload including a rising number of equal pay disputes; unfair dismissal claims, often for high-level senior executives; discrimination cases; and advice on TUPE-related matters.
Eversheds Sutherland's client base has expanded to include a number of leading local, national and international companies. The team advises on the employment aspects of corporate transactions, as well as defending employers against sensitive tribunal claims. It is also handling a growing number of executive-level employment cases and immigration issues. Practice head Lisa Bryson specialises in TUPE matters and diversity and fair employment issues, among others.
‘The team provides pragmatic advice and feels like a natural extension of the in-house team. They are available at short notice, and come back quickly with practical solutions.‘
British Broadcasting Corporation
Northern Ireland Hospice
Sky UK Limited
Marks & Spencer plc
Brakes / Pallas Foods
Lloyds Banking Group
Hannon Transport Limited
MPS (Solutions) Limited (part of Westrock)
- Providing advice to the BBC in relation to employment law, including assisting with equal pay-related matters.
- Representing Flybe in a complaint of discrimination on the grounds of gender and marital status issued by a senior male cabin crew member.
- Advising Perwyn Private Equity on the employment aspects of its £60m investment into a Northern Ireland-based leading global rental specialist Lowe Refrigeration.
- Acting for Marks & Spencer in relation to its tribunal matters in Northern Ireland.
- Advising Northern Ireland Hospice on a range of employment law matters.
Mills Selig acts for a number of large employers, including leading Northern Irish companies and SMEs, on general HR matters; TUPE issues arising from M&A transactions; data protection; and exit arrangements for senior executives. The team has particular expertise in matters involving restrictive covenants and acts for several major local recruitment companies. Practice head Kiera Lee handles a range of non-contentious and contentious employment matters.
‘Kiera Lee is totally responsive and attentive to the client’s needs and both skillful and creative. Not only is the team at Mills Selig distinguished by its superior legal skills, but also by its highest level of personal integrity and complete dedication to client service.‘
‘Everyone at Mills Selig is incredibly responsive and knowledgeable. Kiera Lee can provide intelligent and practical guidance immediately on a host of issues.‘
‘Kiera Lee has a charming manner combined with a strong sense of what is practical for small businesses.‘
Warrenpoint Harbour Authority
Golf Holdings Limited
Devenish Nutrition Limited
Arjo UK Limited
Crossroads Care NI
Law Society Of Northern Ireland
First Derivatives Plc
DCC Energy Plc
- Advising DCC Energy plc on the employment aspects of the sale and purchase of its oil distribution business.
- Advising Crossroads Caring NI on the implementation of GDPR.
- Advising Golf Holdings Limited on compliance with GDPR.
- Advising Ampliphae Limited on updating employment contracts and implementing a new sales commission scheme.
- Advising Catagen Limited on drafting contracts of employment for various levels of employees and four different reward schemes.
Thompsons NI Solicitors is known for its representation of more than 20 trade unions in collective litigation, as well as individual union members in tribunal claims. The team's caseload includes claims relating to unfair dismissal, minimum wage and holiday pay, and discrimination, as well as TUPE and Protective Award cases. Solicitors George Kilpatrick and Paul Upson are the key contacts.
George Kilpatrick; Paul Upson
‘The fact this practice is used by the majority of trade unions in Northern Ireland gives me confidence that they have similar ethics as the organisation I work in.‘
‘The team at Thompsons NI have a great way of personalising our members’ experience with them and are very easy to talk with, in such a way that anyone that has never used any form of legal services in the past are made to feel comfortable and details explained in a thoughtful way for ease of understanding.‘
‘The team specialises in claimant advice and representation in the employment tribunal. It is the leader in this field in the unique jurisdiction of Northern Ireland. Its understanding of employment and discrimination is invaluable. Claimants obtain a first-class service.‘
‘George Kilpatrick gives every case 100% effort and attention. He will leave no stone unturned to assist a client and optimise their outcome. He is an authority on the law in this jurisdiction with a specialism in disability discrimination.‘
‘Paul Upson is now established as one of the leading employment and discrimination lawyers in the jurisdiction. His grasp of cases and complexities arising is second to none.‘
Kelly Moore (BFAWU)
Darren McGavigan (Unison)
- Thompsons NI settled an ill health unfair dismissal claim for Kelly Moore, a BFAWU trade union member who was dismissed from her role as a catering assistant with retail outlet Cameron’s in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
- The team successfully represented Darren McGavigan, a Unison trade union member in the healthcare sector, in an unauthorised deduction from wages/national minimum wage claim.
Worthingtons is noted for its strength in tribunal litigation, particularly defending insurance companies and representing local government bodies; the team's client base includes a range of public, private and third sector employers. Louise McAloon took over as practice head following the appointment of Maxine Orr as an employment judge. Newly promoted partner Niall McMullan regularly represents charities.
Other key lawyers:
Niall McMullan; Toni Fitzgerald-Gunn
‘The team has an excellent understanding of the client’s business and culture and, critically, the context in which they operate. Any advice is specifically tailored to reflect this.‘
‘Niall McMullan provides an outstanding service, with sound clear advice, in the most complex of employment matters.‘
‘The team is very efficient, personable and capable.‘
‘Niall McMullan is reliable, knowledgeable and understanding of the client’s issues and concerns. He provides concise and practical advice.‘
Derry City and Strabane District Council
Robinson Services Ltd
- Defending Firstsource Ltd against an industrial tribunal claim for constructive unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and a flexible working complaint.
- Representing an individual in a direct and indirect sex discrimination complaint against the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
- Representing Derry City and Strabane District Council in the defence of a multiple equal pay action.
- Successfully defended Robinson Services Ltd against a disability discrimination claim.
- Defending a group action claim on behalf of a local authority in respect of unlawful deduction from wages claims worth around £10,000.