Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant in Northern Ireland

BLM

BLM regularly defends international insurers against high value claims and is praised for both its 'technical excellence' and 'very high level of client service'. The team isled by Cormac Fitzpatrick, who has 'enviable experience of handling catastrophic personal injury cases'. A team of partners including Peter Campbell and Alison Cassidy left to join DAC Beachcroft  in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Cormac Fitzpatrick

Testimonials

‘BLM stand out, from not only a technical excellence point of view, but also by providing a very high level of good customer/client service. ‘

‘BLM’s insurance team is my first stop for legal advice in Northern Ireland. The team is knowledgeable, approachable and really understands the market and the interests of insurance clients.’

‘The Belfast BLM team is exceptionally strong in defence insurance litigation. The team is the product of the merger of two exceptionally strong local litigation firms which, in turn, joined forces in recent years with one of the pre-eminent defence litigation firms nationally.’

Key clients

QBE

Aviva

AXA insurance

Zurich

Ageas Education Authority

Hastings

RSA

Work highlights

  • Represented the householder on behalf of AGEAS in the defence of a paraplegia claim which resulted from a domestic accident.
  • Advised NFUM where a plaintiff had issued proceedings against his employer claiming that he had sustained a back injury during employment.
  • Advised NFUM where a plaintiff injured his knee when a sport’s field floodlight fell on his leg during removal.

Carson McDowell

The 'excellent' Carson McDowell has 'expertise in all areas of civil litigation, including industrial disease claims' and 'experience in handling the defence of complex investigations'. Managing partner Roger McMillan, who jointly leads the team, has extensive experience in handling clinical negligence claims. Fellow practice head Claire Harmer focuses on personal injury cases involving motor and work accidents, with expertise in examining employer's and public liability. Jacqueline McAleese splits her time between Belfast and Dublin and is an expert in clinical negligence claims. Newly promoted partner Catherine Carton is well regarded for public and employer liability claims.

Practice head(s):

Roger McMillan; Claire Harmer

Testimonials

‘Excellent client-focused firm providing comprehensive advice.’

‘Claire Harmer is knowledgeable, insightful and a top quality lawyer.’

‘Strong technical knowledge in the litigation team. Very experienced solicitors. Expertise in all areas of civil litigation, including industrial disease claims.’

‘Experience in handling the defence of complex investigations.’

‘Readily approachable. Provide prompt and detailed advice. Always prepared to consider our views and that of our clients’

‘There is real strength across the whole team. They communicate well and give pragmatic, well considered advice based on excellent attention to detail and analysis of the claim. They are tactically astute. ‘

‘Jacqueline McAleese and Roger McMillan stand out. They are technically excellent lawyers and negotiators. They are approachable and a pleasure to work with. They inspire confidence in the advice and tactics they recommend.’

‘Jacqueline McAleese is an exceptional solicitor – she is technically excellent, an adept strategic thinker, calm in a crisis and extremely knowledgeable in her field. ‘

‘Roger McMillan is fantastic, he goes above and beyond to deliver service at all hours of the day (and night!) and is extremely canny/robust – a great person to have in your corner.’

Key clients

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Travelers Insurance

Axis Capital

Enstar

Sedgwick

Faraday Insurance

Chubb Insurance

Davies Casualty/Garwyn

TT Club/Thomas Miller Claims Management

Crawfords Specialist Liability

Services/Broadspire

Riverstone Insurance

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Limited

Beale & Co

McLarens

Medical Protection Society

Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

Dental Protection

National Pharmaceutical Association

Association of Optometrists

Beazley Group

Work highlights

  • Defended Beale & Co in a high value public liability claim where the plaintiff suffered a very serious head injury when struck by a vehicle.
  • Defended a bookmaker on behalf of Axis Insurance in a high value tripping claim.
  • Defended a seafood wholesaler in a High Court employer’s liability case.

DAC Beachcroft

DAC Beachcroft entered the Belfast market in 2019 via a merger with local outfit McKinty and Wright, which shared a similar emphasis on personal injury defendant work. The team is jointly led by Sean McGahan, who is adept in defendant work involving industrial disease, product liability, construction and catastrophic injuries, and Aisling Mellon, who is particularly known for motor accident claims, but is also very experienced in cases concerning employer’s, occupier’s, public and product liability. Other key figures include Lester Doake, whose forté is in advising on occupational illnesses, and associate Catriona McCorry who advises orthopaedic surgeons, obstetricians and gynaecologists on clinical negligence claims. A team of partners including Peter Campbell  and Alison Cassidy joined from BLM in mid-2020.

Practice head(s):

Sean McGahan; Aisling Mellon

Testimonials

DAC very much puts clients first.’

‘DAC are very diligent and agile in supporting and defending our mutual clients and adding value.’

‘Louise Butler has a very personable approach and impresses with her exceptional industry knowledge. Sean McGahan invests his personal time on client industry knowledge and is very active at insurance and client events. Aisling Mallon, as well as an excellent lawyer, has exceptional communication skills which puts the client at ease. Kevin O’Hagan is a leading lawyer, particularly in the Water Industry, where he is able to understand complex industry processes.

The team at DAC are very efficient in acknowledging new instructions and providing advice, regardless of the type of claim (PI, Hire etc). Each member is easily contactable and happy to assist with questions or clarity on points. The advice provided is concise and is provided with an explanation.

‘The individuals I have dealt with are professional and personable. We are able to maintain a great client/solicitor relationship.’

‘Communication between individuals is consistent and any important updates or changes are filtered through the correct channels. They are always on hand to answer any queries raised even if not instructed on a file.

The Team is perfectly structured and organised from the top down. Partners delegate appropriately to more junior colleagues. However, you always sense that you are dealing with an informed unit.’

‘Attention to detail is the key.’

‘Recently, whilst retained by Lester Doake in a complex, professional negligence, commercial action, I could only be impressed at the quality and completeness of my instructions. To call him meticulous is to profoundly understate the service he provides.

The team at DAC Beachcroft (NI) is recognised as innovative, combative and sensible.’

‘The members of DAC Beachcroft create a solid and trustworthy relationship with their clients, counsel, experts, opponents and the Court and, as a result, are taken seriously in the market. It is a top-tier firm in Northern Ireland.’

‘Kevin O’Hagan, Aisling Mellon, Orla McElroy and Catriona McCorry are a perfect example of the trademark of the wider firm. Firm and resolute in fighting for their clients, these lawyers represent clients to the very end by providing professional but clear and simple advice.

Their responsiveness to new instructions is exceptional.

Experienced, knowledgeable and easy to work alongside invariably making excellent decisions and providing superb advice.

‘Alison Cassidy comes across as a very impressive partner. Alison also ensures a high level of client service and I know if I need her for anything, a very swift response will be received.’

‘Alison Cassidy is great – she’s incredibly knowledgeable about insurance law, and combines this with a strong commercial appreciation of what is important to her clients and what they need to know and comprehend. She’s a pleasure to work with.’

Key clients

Northern Ireland Water

MS Amlin

Willis Towers Watson

RSA

Larmour Investigations Limited

Asda

Marks and Spencer

Next

Sabre

Ecclesiastical

MDU

MedPro International

Riverstone

Travelers

MS Amlin

Covea

Work highlights

  • Advised CNA HARDY in a claim where a plaintiff was injured at work when she was struck by a falling coat stand.
  • Advised Arnold & Green in a claim where the plaintiff tripped as she was coming down a set of stairs at a hotel in Spain.
  • Acting for monoline motor insurer Sabre in successful minimal Impact defence securing dismissal of claim

Kennedys

Internationally recognised for defendant insurance litigation, Kennedys' Belfast team 'brings a wealth of personal injury experience to the table' and 'a robust approach on behalf of their clients'. Amanda Wylie is the key name of note and is an expert in personal injury and employer's liability claims, while also carving out a particular niche in marine insurance accidents concerning ferries, fishing fleets and cruises. Senior associate Megan Boyd - who has 'a strong work ethic' and 'excellent client facing skills' - is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Wylie

Other key lawyers:

Megan Boyd

Testimonials

‘The team bring a wealth of personal injury experience to the table as well as a robust approach on behalf of their clients, while at the same time being mindful of the need for pragmatism on occasion.’

‘Megan Boyd has a strong work ethic, excellent client facing skills and a very strong and measured commercial approach.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a private healthcare company in a claim involving delayed X-ray results.
  • Representing a private hospital where the claimant, a nursing care assistant, injured his left shoulder when trying to break the fall of a patient.
  • Defending an out-of-hours service against a medical negligence claim which resulted in incontinence and limb weakness.

Tughans

The team at Tughans handles a range of cases concerning catastrophic injuries, industrial diseases and motor accidents. Kathy McGillie, who leads the practice, defends major insurers against personal injury claims. Employer's and public liability claims are handled by Neil Smyth, who has a track record of work on cases involving the Republic of Ireland. Andrew Anthony is also a well-respected name in medical defence work, as is Alistair Wilson.

Practice head(s):

Kathy McGillie

Testimonials

‘The team at Tughans are hands-on and go the extra mile when needed.’

‘Neil Smyth is a top-class defence solicitor. Having seen first hand how he defends clients, both North and South of the Irish border, I can only say that when he is representing my clients, I am most comfortable as he is a superb defence solicitor.’

‘Professional and caring individuals that consider their customers’ needs in the process and always take time to listen to their client – a great team.’

Arthur Cox Belfast

Arthur Cox Belfast has represented employers, public bodies and building occupants on a wide range of cases, with a client list including AXA, UIA Insurance and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Chris Ritchie is the key name in the team; he defends insurers against personal injury claims before the High Court and County Courts. Recent claims the team has handled have involved catastrophic physical injuries and significant hearing impairments.

Practice head(s):

Chris Ritchie

Key clients

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Prosight Syndicate at Lloyds

AXA

Courtaulds Textiles

UIA Insurance

Zimmer

Work highlights

  • Acted on complex personal injury matters for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
  • Acted for Prosight in an employers’ liability case in respect of an employee who fell from height and sustained potentially life-changing injuries.
  • Advised Axa in relation to a plethora of legacy noise-induced hearing loss claims in respect of its Insured’s various former textile works in Northern Ireland.

McKees

McKees  is one of the law firms for choice for the National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society, and handles mandates concerning farm accidents, road traffic accidents and incidents on construction sites. Leonard Edgar is an expert in advising on catastrophic injury claims, and has notable experience in the County Courts due to his additional role as a Deputy County Court Judge. Chris Ross is another key member of the team; he is particularly active on cross-border claims.

Practice head(s):

Leonard Edgar; Chris Ross

Key clients

National Farmers Union

Mutual Insurance Society Limited

Coris UK

Dekra

Translink

Sedgwick

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin defends insurers, retailers and public bodies against personal injury claims. Michael King, who leads the team, has extensive experience of both personal injury and medical negligence claims. King is assisted by the 'very talented and hardworking' associate Rachael Gamble and associate Marc Kelly, who 'demonstrates a tactical awareness that belies his years'.

Practice head(s):

Michael King

Other key lawyers:

Rachael Gamble; Marc Kelly

Testimonials

‘This is a dynamic team which mixes a wealth of talent, intelligence and experience with a bunch of upcoming enthusiastic and determined lawyers.’

‘Michael King has a wealth of experience in a variety of fields and he brings that experience to personal injury and clinical negligence litigation. A highly intelligent and tactically adept individual who is more often than not one step ahead of the other side.’

‘Rachael Gamble is the most capable of associates who in a matter of time will grace the upper echelons of this field of practice. A very talented and hardworking lawyer who gets results for her clients. I think that we have gone beyond one to watch, as she is already here.’

‘Marc Kelly is an up-and-coming solicitor who is already demonstrating a tactical awareness that belies his years. One to watch.’

Key clients

RSA Insurance

AIG Insurance

AON Claims Management

Musgrave Retail Partners (NI) Limited

Equine and Livestock Insurance Company

Sainsburys

BMI Healthcare Limited

Work highlights

  • Defending a local council in proceedings brought by the widow of a former employee in respect of a claim that will exceed £100,000 for mesothelioma.
  • Defending a national retailer in a public liability claim following an incident that resulted in a brain injury on the client’s premises.
  • Defending an employer’s liability claim following an incident wherein an employee fell at work, suffering a broken limb that required surgery and a subsequent prolonged absence from work.

Johnsons Solicitors

At Johnsons Solicitors, managing partner Kenneth Chambers leads the practice and has a track record of work defending against employer's, public and product liability claims. David Craig is another key name advising on catastrophic injury claims.

Lacey Solicitors

Lacey Solicitors has offices in Belfast, Derry and Dublin and is well-placed to handle personal injury work involving both of Ireland's jurisdictions. Name partner Terence Lacey has defended insurers in both the Belfast and Dublin High Courts, as well county courts.

Napier Solicitors

With 'a legacy of years of personal injury litigation', Napier Solicitors provides its clients with 'a personal service of legal excellence, in marked contrast to a one size fits all approach.' Joseph Napier is the key figure in the team and an is an established name for defending public and religious institutions.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Napier

Testimonials

‘Joseph Napier delivers a personal boutique service of legal excellence to the client, in marked contrast to a one size fits all approach.’

‘Pragmatic, confident and plain speaking. ‘

Key clients

BT

Royal Mail

Education Authority

Ards & North Down Borough Council

Council for Catholic Maintained Schools

Police Ombudsman NI

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

De La Salle Order

Irish Christian Brothers

Good Shepherd Sisters

Redemptorist Order

Work highlights

  • Represented an education authority in the resolution and dismissal of number of cases involving children and injuries received in school setting.
  • Successfully resolved a £250,000 employment liability claim for Ards & North Down Borough Council arising from injury sustained while operating as a grave digger.
  • Represented a range of religious congregations in relation to claims of historical abuse.