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Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant in Northern Ireland

BLM

BLM is praised as a ‘market leader in personal injury and professional negligence in Northern Ireland’ and brings ‘a large multinational approach’ combined with ‘a local/regional style to client care, management and communication’. The team’s strong reputation in the market is further illustrated by its client base of major insurers including AXA, Aviva, QBE and Zurich. Heading up the team are Cormac Fitzpatrick, who focuses on catastrophic injury claims; Patrick Connolly, who covers employer, product and public liability issues; and Eileen Doherty, who specialises in employer and public liability work as well as road traffic accident issues. Newly promoted partner Rachel Keenan is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Cormac Fitzpatrick; Patrick Connolly; Eileen Doherty

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Keenan

Testimonials

‘BLM are market leaders in Personal Injury and professional negligence in Northern Ireland bringing a large multi-national approach to preparation, resource and technical ability but combining that with a local/regional style to client care, management and communication.’

‘Patrick Connolly – Partner – Patrick has the rare ability of marrying the resolute defence of his client with an over arching appreciation of the commercial realities of litigation. His charm and personality also make him a firm favourite with practitioners and clients alike.’

‘Rachel Keenan – Partner – Rachel is a rising star in the local market who always has in depth knowledge of the cases she is involved in and a commercial client based approach to their resolution.’

Key clients

QBE

Aviva

AXA insurance

Zurich

Ageas

DLG

Education Authority

Hastings

RSA

MIB

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell has expertise in both personal injury and clinical negligence matters, with a client roster spanning medical associations, insurers and private companies. Managing partner Roger McMillan leads the medical negligence side with additional expertise in professional indemnity work. Leading the personal injury work is Claire Harmer, whose speciality lies in motor accidents as well as employer and public liability issues. The team also features Jacqueline McAleese, who is an expert in clinical negligence work, and Catherine Carton, who focuses on public and employer liability claims.

Practice head(s):

Roger McMillan; Claire Harmer

Other key lawyers:

Jacqueline McAleese; Catherine Carton

Testimonials

‘Excellent client service, market knowledge and most of all delivery of a premium service.’

‘Claire Harmer is client focused, stand out levels of service and strategically astute.’

‘They provide an excellent service with detailed, quality advice. Cases are progressed to a conclusion without any unnecessary delay where possible and a satisfactory outcome is nearly always achieved. They have adapted well to Covid and are available to discuss cases and tactics.’

‘Claire Harmer: Partner – Professional, very responsive – excellent advice and always available to discuss cases.’

Key clients

Medical Protection Society

Dental Protection Limited

Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

National Pharmaceutical Association

Association of Optometrists

Beazley Group

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

Work highlights

  • Advised Faraday on a claim involving traumatic amputation of left index finger and serious injury to the plaintiff’s hand.
  • Advised NIE on a property damage claim which arose from laying underground cables.
  • Advised RSA on a claim where a trailer and vehicle were stolen after being left unsecured.

DAC Beachcroft

DAC Beachcroft has been a disruptive name in the Belfast market having merged in 2019 with local firm McKinty and Wright and later hiring five partners from BLM in 2020. Sean McGahan leads the team and is highly skilled in public and employer liability claims. The former McKinty and Wright team contained McGahan, Aisling Mellon, who is an expert in road traffic accident claims; occupational illness expert Lester Doake, and associate Catriona McCorry, who focuses on professional negligence work. New arrivals from BLM include Peter Campbell, who is particularly known for advising on road traffic accidents.

Practice head(s):

Sean McGahan

Other key lawyers:

Aisling Mellon; Lester Doake; Catriona McCorry; Peter Campbell

Testimonials

‘The team are very focused on understanding what we expect as a client in terms of how claims should be handled. They are keen to deliver results on claims.’

‘They report every possible angle to a claim and provide in-depth comments on liability, breach of duty and causation. They even flag remote points of interest. This is important as we entrust them to thoroughly review matters as we don’t always have the time to look into cases in the same way a lawyer would. This is a vital part of the service.’

‘DACB NI keep us fully informed of changes in NI law and any other relevant points we need to know.’

‘Our main contact is Catriona McCorry – it is always a relief when she’s handling a case because of her attention to detail. Her service is in line with what we would expect. Whilst we don’t have many cases with DACB, the ones we do have are managed well and I would say there are the best panel firm we have worked with in NI.’

‘We have the highest possible regard for the organisation, having appointed them in respect of many complex long tail/legacy industrial disease claims. They ensure that at all times we are kept abreast of any market developments providing regular presentations on current relevant issues.’

‘The level of service has been excellent with regard to policy interpretation, response times, industry knowledge, value for money, having a team of lawyers who are extremely knowledgeable and diligent with extensive experience of complex commercial litigation defending our Principal Insurers and Self-Insured Clients.’

‘We had originally worked with Lester Doake, Partner who was our initial point of contact being highly experienced and knowledgeable in defending claims on behalf of both public and private Clients in addition to leading Insurers for who we act. Lester was always highly regarded in the market being very pragmatic, sensible and a constant point of reference. A lawyer to engage in complex, high value personal injury claims offering a very safe pair of hands.’

Key clients

Northern Ireland Water Ltd

MS Amlin

Sabre Insurance Company Limited

ASDA Stores Limited

Ecclesiastical

Riverstone a Fairfax Company

Corvelia Underwriting

Marks and Spencer

NFUM

MCE

BUPA

MPLC Insurance

Work highlights

  • Advised Corvelia on a potential catastrophic clinical negligence action.
  • Advised an insurer on complex issues arising in a cross-jurisdictional motor claim.
  • Advising Eccelsiatical on a claim arising out of a fall as the claimant left the client’s premises.

Kennedys

Specialising in insurance defence work, Kennedys is a reputed name across the UK and its Belfast office is noted for its ‘extremely determined litigators who always strive to maximise the strengths of the clients' case’. Managing partner Amanda Wylie oversees the team, with expertise spanning across personal injury and clinical negligence claims, with unique expertise in accidents involving maritime law. She is supported by senior associates Megan Boyd, who focuses on clinical negligence work, and product liability expert Frances Thompson.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Wylie

Other key lawyers:

Megan Boyd; Frances Thompson

Testimonials

‘The lawyers that I am involved with are consistently well prepared, produce helpful and comprehensive instructions and are extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter of their cases. They are invaluable team members and invariably contribute strongly in the areas of strategy and tactics.’

‘Kennedys Belfast are extremely determined litigators who always strive to maximise the strengths of the clients case whilst remaining at all times cognisant of the commercial risks and realities of litigation. Their management of that costs risk balance is always excellent.’

‘Amanda Wylie – Senior Partner – Amanda is a fierce advocate for her clients, with a broad range of technical knowledge all set against a backdrop of commercial realism. She is very much at the top of her field.’

‘Frances Thompson – Associate – a rising star in this jurisdiction, Frances’ attention to detail and tactical nous is second to none. If you want your case to be in the best possible position to succeed, have it prepared by Frances!’

‘Megan Boyd – Associate – Megan is a strong advocate for her clients and unflappable under pressure.’

Tughans

Tughans is ‘a first-class defendant firm in Belfast’ and is particularly known for its expertise in advising medical defence organisations. Andrew Anthony  focuses on this line of work and has extensive experience in defending healthcare professionals against clinical negligence claims. Kathy McGillie leads on the personal injury side and focuses on occupational disease and catastrophic injury claims. Other partners of note include Neil Smyth, whose strength is in employer and public liability claims, and Alistair Wilson, who specialises in clinical negligence work.

Practice head(s):

Kathy McGillie; Andrew Anthony

Other key lawyers:

Neil Smyth; Alistair Wilson

Testimonials

‘The team within Tughans are extremely knowledgeable and always go the extra mile to ensure best value for their clients. All cases are progressed in a timely manner and the client kept informed at all times of any changes or relevant information – as a client we feel part of the process and are consulted at every stage.’

‘The personal touch with their clients, bringing the clients into and part of the process. Tughans’ staff go out of their way to involve all at all times and after a case is closed they host a review of all claims to ensure we understand the actions taken and why etc. In addition to regular reviews with cases we sit down every 6 months and review all cases collectively.’

‘A first-class defendant firm in Belfast, one of the two leading firms acting for medical defence organisations with strength in depth, handling both claims, regulatory and inquiry work.’

‘Andrew Anthony is Head of Department and an outstanding defence solicitor with excellent judgment and knowledge of the sector. He is highly-regarded and trusted.’

‘Always helpful and pleasant.’

‘As a client, I have been very satisfied regarding the service offered to me. All emails are answered promptly and I have received regular updates on any developments in my case.’

Arthur Cox Belfast

Arthur Cox Belfast advises on employer, public and occupier liability claims; the team is noted for its strength in occupational disease cases, and also handles product liability personal injury claims for large multinationals. Other clients include a number of large insurers, corporates and public bodies. Chris Ritchie leads the team; he has been active in cases involving complex product liability issues, asbestos-related illnesses and noise-induced hearing loss.

Practice head(s):

Chris Ritchie

Key clients

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Maximus Crushing

WYG plc

Courtaulds Textiles

UIA Insurance

ZimmerBiomet

Travelers Insurance

Education Authority for NI

Medtronic

Stryker

Work highlights

  • Advised Maximus Crushing and Screening Ltd after a customer suffered serious injuries using its machines.
  • Defended metal-on-metal hip implant claims for Stryker Corporation.
  • Advising WYG in respect of a fatality on its premises.

McKees

McKees has particular strength in handling issues arising from accidents in the agricultural sector, and also focuses on broader areas including road traffic and construction-related accidents. Key members of the team include catastrophic injury specialist and former Deputy County Court Judge Leonard Edgar, and managing partner Chris Ross, who is notably skilled in construction cases.

Other key lawyers:

Leonard Edgar; Chris Ross

Testimonials

‘Leonard Edgar in particular is an exceptional lawyer with great experience, nous and pragmatism. Leonard has an exceptional ability to master the facts and legal issues in any given case and to identify and skilfully analyse the core issue in the case.’

Napier Solicitors

Napier Solicitors has carved out a particular niche in advising on vicarious liability cases involving religious and public institutions relating to historical abuse inquiries as well as violent instances involving victims of ‘The Troubles’. The team has also advised on personal injury cases arising from road traffic accidents and hearing loss, as well as emotional and psychiatric trauma. Managing partner Joseph Napier and Claire Wilson lead the practice.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Napier; Claire Wilson

Testimonials

‘Joseph Napier is pragmatic and easy to work with. Helpful and responsive.’

Key clients

Royal Mail

BT

Education Authority

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Archdiocese of Armagh

Ards & North Down Borough Council

Council Catholic Maintained Schools

Irish Christian Brothers

Good Shepherd Sisters

De La Salle Order

Work highlights

  • Defending De La Salle in a claim of negligence/vicarious liability for psychiatric injury sustained by a former resident of a training school.
  • Advised JP Corry on a mesothelioma case with both employers and product liability aspects.
  • Defended Royal Mail in claim premised on negligence/vicarious liability for the murder of a postman in 1978.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is notably adept in employer and occupier liability claims, with additional expertise in handling road traffic accident claims. Michael King, who advises the insurers AON and RSA, leads the team and handles personal injury work, and is supported by associate Rachael Gamble and senior solicitor Marc Kelly.

Practice head(s):

Michael King

Other key lawyers:

Rachael Gamble; Marc Kelly

Testimonials

‘Very professional firm to work with.’

‘Michael King, very professional to deal with and lead us to a successful resolution of a case.’

‘Dedicated point of contact at all times. Quick response to any contact made and knowledge of our competitors. Strong advice given at all times, however will always respect the direction the client wants to proceed.’

‘Going above and beyond in many cases. Works very closely with our insurance company and with a single point of contact, means that knowledge of all open cases without delay.’

Key clients

RSA Insurance

AIG Insurance

AON Claims Management

Musgrave Retail Partners (NI) Limited

Equine and Livestock Insurance Company

Sainsbury’s

Work highlights

  • Instructed by a public body to defend a claim from the employee of a subcontractor who had an accident on the client’s premises.
  • Advised AON on behalf of a national retailer in respect of an employer’s liability claim, brought by an employee who slipped whilst at work.
  • Advising a national retailer in the defence of an occupier’s liability claim which relates to significant bodily injuries requiring complex medical evidence.