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Commercial property

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  1. Commercial property
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Commercial property clients in Northern Ireland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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A&L Goodbody’s property team ‘provides consistently excellent service and commercially sound advice; it is strong in all areas’. In 2016 the practice handled a number of high-value and market leading transactions for investment firms, property developers and banks; loan portfolio sales, healthcare developments and hotels have been particular areas of activity. ‘Very knowledgeable and commercial’ practice head Mark Blair attracts praise for his ‘real market knowledge’; in an illustration of his track record in loan portfolio sales, Blair led the advice to Ulster Bank on its high-value sale of a loan portfolio, which was the largest such loan sale in Northern Ireland in 2016. In another standout deal the team acted for Scotia Gas Network on a major infrastructure project to bring natural gas to parts of Northern Ireland, which involved negotiating option agreements with more than 120 landowners. Tracey Schofield joined from Tughans in May 2016 and provides ‘an impressive service; she is responsive, problem-solving and proactive, all unique qualities in a lawyer’. Schofield acted for Benmore Healthcare Group on a multimillion-pound redevelopment of 16 acres into a healthcare and leisure park, another important project for the country. Judith Allen left in August 2016 to head the property group at TLT. Kevin Murphy joined TLT in 2017.

Carson McDowell fields a team of ‘top performers’ that acts primarily for developers and retailers in high-value acquisitions and development projects. Emma Cooper is advising The Belfast Harbour Commissioners, a key client of the firm, on the site assembly, development and letting of the £250m City Quays development within Belfast Harbour, consisting of office, hotel and residential buildings. Property developer British Land is another key client, which practice head Rosemary Carson regularly advises on acquisitions and disposals. On the retail and landlord and tenant side, the team acts for Tesco, Greggs and JD Wetherspoons on high-value lettings and disposals, including JD Wetherspoons’ sale of a chain of Northern Irish pubs. Other highlights included advising McAleer & Rushe Group on its £72m sale of land to Queen’s University Belfast as well as securing the contract for the construction of student accommodation in Belfast.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s property team acts for developers and property funds in sales and disposals across Northern Ireland, with a particular focus on retail, although healthcare, student accommodation and housing have all been key growth areas. Practice head Andrea McIlroy-Rose (who is particularly well known for her retail expertise) led the team assisting asset manager Cordatus Real Estate on its £15m acquisition of Lisnagelivin Shopping Centre. On the student accommodation front the group continued to advise Queen’s University Belfast on acquisitions worth £71m. RBS and West Register are other key clients, which the group has advised on multimillion-pound factory outlet sales. Healthcare highlights included legal director Joanna Robinson’s advice to Medicx Fund on forward funding for the development of King’s Hall, Belfast into a primary care hub and care homes.

Tughans attracts praise for its ‘excellent service, immediate response times and excellent advice’. The team regularly advises on high-profile and high-value property sales within the retail, energy, hotel and insolvency sectors, with shopping centre sales continuing to be a key feature of the Northern Ireland market. Newly appointed partner Rebecca Moffett led the advice to London Metric Property on the £30m sale of Damolly Retail Park which houses B&Q, Halfords and numerous national retail names. Student accommodation is another area of growing activity; David Jones led the advice to asset manager Curlew Capital on the acquisition of the former Belfast Metropolitan College building for the purposes of a new student accommodation development, which involved a complex forward funding transaction with the developer, followed by securing development funding from a syndicate of banks which would be converted into investment funding upon completion of construction and the students taking occupation of the premises. Phyllis Agnew heads the practice. Tracey Schofield left to join A&L Goodbody in May 2016.

Arthur Cox Belfast’s property team provides ‘an excellent service, with prompt responses and pragmatic and commercial advice’. The team, which primarily works with developers, has been active in the residential, retail and student housing sectors throughout 2016, and also handled a number of insolvency-related property sales and disposals. In a highlight for the team, solicitor Gareth Planck led the advice to Domus, a UK development firm back by a US investment fund, on £20m-worth of acquisitions of student housing developments across Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Practice head Alastair Todd is also advising Damolly Developments on the acquisition of a five-acre site formerly occupied by HMRC in Newry. Other clients include Four Seasons Healthcare, which the team advised on the sale of several premises in its Northern Irish property portfolio; Deloitte, which the firm advised on the sale of a regional shopping centre in Londonderry; and Marathon Asset Management, which the firm assisted with its property management and lettings strategy concerning two Belfast retail parks. Rowan White is another name to note.

Cleaver Fulton Rankininstils complete confidence in its clients’. The group continues to be active in retail, office, energy and hotel acquisitions, acting for developers, retail owners, and investment funds. Healthcare has been a key growth area; in 2016 the team advised Target Healthcare on the acquisition of a £5.4m care home in Warrenpoint. The group is continuing to advise on the Titanic Quarter development, a major waterfront mixed-use development in central Belfast. On the retail front, practice head Joe Marley (‘commercially astute and straightforward to deal with’) advised Home Bargains owner T J Morris on acquisitions across Northern Ireland worth in excess of £20m. Kathryn Collie regularly acts on hotel developments and is praised for being ‘very considered, logical and an excellent lateral thinker’.

DWF is best known for its retail expertise, and has worked with household retailers and property developers on a range of acquisitions and landlord and tenant matters. Recent clients include Lidl, which the team advised on the redevelopment and construction of retail units. The firm also acts for a range of residential property development companies including Mayfair Homes and Killultagh Estates. The practice is headed by the highly reputable Mark Tinman.

Elliott Duffy Garrett’s ‘excellent’ property team handles a wide range of transactions, from acquisitions to leases and insolvency-related property sales. 2016 highlights included land acquisitions for multimillion-pound residential developments. Clients include British Land, Land Securities and Iceland. Christine Hamilton leads the team, which includes Leo Brown.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s property team is ‘highly recommended’ for its ‘ability to cut to the chase and identify the issues’, and for its ‘commercial acumen and ability to get the deal done’. The group handles a wide range of matters for clients including property developers, contractors and retailers, and recently acted for McAleer & Rushe Group on the multimillion-pound acquisition of land for a multi-tenanted building in Belfast city centre. Marks & Spencer are another key client, which Andrew Kerr advised on lease negotiations. Loan book sales have also continued to be an active area for the group, which acted for Salvare Group on the refinancing of part of a loan portfolio. The practice has also been handling insolvency-related acquisitions and disposals, recently advising Duff & Phelps on the sale of three multi-tenanted buildings in Belfast. Practice head Peter McCall is praised for being ‘highly pragmatic and solution driven’ and Simon Fleming is a ‘technical and commercially-minded lawyer who provides excellent service’.

Mills Selig’s property team has been handling high-value transactions throughout 2016 and has been particularly active across the retail, office and hotel sectors. The team acts for a large number of property developer clients, including The Quinn Group, Murdoch Property Group and Glandor Properties Limited. Real estate asset management firms are another key part of its client base; in 2016 newly appointed partner Anna-Marie McAlinden led the team acting for Northwood Investors on the sale of Kiltoot Business Park. Other highlights included advising Marcol Group (a new client for 2016) on the acquisition of a retail development. The highly regarded Anne Skeggs heads the practice.

Formed in 2013 with a niche commercial property focus, Davidson McDonnell Solicitors has retained its primary focus on commercial real estate matters despite the firm’s expanded remit, which now covers corporate and commercial matters as well as dispute resolution. The firm’s longstanding client base includes national property developers in the residential, student accommodation and office sectors; in 2016 the firm acted for Wirefox Group on the £30m acquisition of six office blocks. Other highlights included advising Lodge Road Properties on the £8.5m sale of a property in Reading. Northern Ireland-based residential developer Lacuna Developments is also a client. Ross Davidson and David McDonnell jointly head the team.

Noted for its ‘very good practical and commercial advice’, the team at John McKee Solicitors has been busy with office, residential, transport and retail property transactions, representing banks, developers and retailers. Highlights included advising Nationwide Building Society on the £3m sale of its Northern Ireland headquarters to a local developer, and acting for Moore Construction on the part sale of a mixed-use site to major local housing association, Apex. On the landlord and tenant side, the group acted for Keevy Limited on a 10-year lease at Quays Shopping Centre in Newry. Other key clients include Translink and Lightsource Renewable Energy. Practice head Gerard Small attracts praise for his ‘excellent service delivery’. Andrea McCanndeals with challenges with the upmost patience and offers practical solutions’; sheis best known for acting for pension trustees on the acquisition, disposal and letting of commercial properties.

TLT’s property expertise spans a broad range of sectors, including energy, residential, hotels and retail. Judith Allen, who joined the firm in August 2016 from A&L Goodbody, heads the department and has been leading the team advising domestic residential developer, Braidwater Limited on a number of high-value sales in the country. Other key highlights for 2016 included advising Kremlin Association on the £2.4m disposal of the War Memorial building in Belfast. Andrew Ryan is the key name on the energy front and acts for clients including Hadstone Energy and Gaelectric Development on land acquisitions related to solar developments. Former practice head Kathryn Forde left for an in-house position. Kevin Murphy was a new arrival in August 2017 from A&L Goodbody.


Construction

Index of tables

  1. Construction
  2. Leading individuals

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Construction clients in Northern Ireland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

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Arthur Cox Belfast’s ‘impressive’ practice ‘leaves no stone unturned’. The handles front-end construction work for employers and contractors, as well as assisting with contentious matters. Student accommodation and campus developments have been key areas of activity, as have infrastructure disputes, shopping centre extensions and housing developments. Education-related highlights included Niav O’Higgins’ advice to Ulster University on a £132m project to build a new campus, which has involved a range of challenges including the administration of the contractor and the construction of a linked car park. O’Higgins heads the practice, which includes William Curry. Adrian Kerr left to join Mills Selig in August 2016.

Well versed in contentious and non-contentious matters, Carson McDowell’s construction team primarily acts for Northern Ireland-based contractors and has extensive experience on a range of projects, although education, housing, energy, hotel and port projects have been especially active in 2016. The firm has been assisting the Belfast Harbour Commissioners on the City Quays project, most recently acting on a major delay dispute for the City Quays Hotel as well as handling the construction of the third phase of the project. Other key mandates included advising McAleer & Rushe on the development of the 240-room Maldron Hotel in central Belfast, which is a £17m project. Contentious work continues to be an important work stream; practice head Stuart Murphy and Gavin Kerr represented John Graham Construction before the Court of Appeal in a £1m dispute over the construction of a project at Sheffield University. Other clients include Graham Asset Management and Grand Opera House.

The ‘highly personable and responsive’ team at Tughansgoes the extra mile’ for its wide-ranging client base client base, which it advises on front-end construction matters and high-value disputes. Energy, healthcare and office developments have all been key areas of activity in 2016; energy clients include Adman Civil Projects, Northstone and Invest NI. Ley infrastructure mandates included advising on the procurement of a €850m Apple data centre. On the contentious side the team represented contractor Vaughan Engineering Services on £9m-worth of claims in relation to the construction of a new critical care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast; practice head and contentious construction expert Michael McCord led the team and is praised as a ‘master of his brief; he is forensic in his ability to devise strategies and gets the best out of every situation’. Tim Kinney is recommended for his front-end expertise and for his ‘extensive knowledge’.

A&L Goodbody has ‘good knowledge of the industry’ and fields a team of ‘excellent negotiators’. The construction team represents the full range of parties, from employers to contractors and architects, and has been particularly active in housing, retail and hotel development, and infrastructure projects. Highlights included advising Connswater Homes on a £9m housing association scheme to build a 96-unit residential development. In another key mandate, recently promoted partner Micaela Diver led advice to the project managers on the procurement process for the construction of a new motorway connecting Londonderry to Dungiven. Other clients include NewRiver Retail, the Irish Football Association, and a range of architectural firms. The ‘measured and highly experiencedBrendan Fox leads the team and is a ‘practiced negotiator’; ‘skilled and responsive’ associate John Dugdale is another key name.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is best known for its contentious construction practice, which regularly represents public-sector clients and has been particularly active in education, infrastructure and entertainment projects over 2016. In a key mandate, the firm represented the Northern Ireland Housing Executive before the Court of Appeal in a dispute raised by the contractor regarding an asbestos surveying contract. Ivywood Colleges are another major client, which Aaron Moore represented in a £1m dispute with the main contractor over the completion of a further education college PPP project. Other clients include Titanic Quarter Belfast and civil engineering firm John McQuillan. Lisa Boyd is another key partner. Patrick Fleming leads the group and is praised for being ‘very professional and knowledgeable; they deliver on time’.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s construction team ‘provides an excellent service’ to employers and contractors. Front-end construction work has been a key area of activity, although the team also has expertise in construction arbitration. 2016 saw the firm act on leisure developments, student accommodation and infrastructure; highlights included advising employer Kier Property Developments on the construction of the £65m Walsall Waterfront leisure development. Queen’s University Belfast are another key client, which property partner Andrea McIlroy-Rose has been advising on the procurement for the supply of student accommodation. Ed Kelly heads the practice.

Mills Selig’s construction team was strengthened in 2016 with the addition of Adrian Kerr from Arthur Cox Belfast; he heads the practice, which is best known for its contentious construction expertise. The team has been particularly active in the housing and energy sectors; key mandates included acting for Clanmill Housing Association in an adjudication concerning a contractor claim for additional monies. The team has also been advising the same client on various housing projects with a combined value of £70m. Other key clients include contractor Graham Construction. Litigator Emma Hunt is also recommended.


Planning and environment

Index of tables

  1. Planning and environment
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Planning and environment clients in Northern Ireland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact david.burgess@legal500.com.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WHO REPRESENTS WHO SITE

Carson McDowell’s highly regarded planning team has been particularly active in the infrastructure and energy sectors, handling planning judicial reviews and obtaining regulatory approval on road constructions, exploratory drilling and electricity pylon applications, amongst other projects. Highlights for 2016 included acting for Lagan Group in a £100m appeal against an enforcement notice in relation to the extraction of sand from Lough Neagh; the team has also been advising on a related judicial review instigated by Friends of the Earth. On the non-contentious side the team advised the Port of Belfast on a planning application for a £250m mixed-use development, which will include housing, retail, car parks, hotels and offices. Gary McGhee leads the department and is highly regarded. Associate Grant McBurney is another key figure.

A ‘go-to firm’ for planning matters Cleaver Fulton Rankin fields a team that is ‘best in class’ when it comes to handling planning applications and judicial reviews across a range of sectors, including energy, infrastructure and real estate. Belfast City Airport is a key client, which the team is advising on an application to vary current planning agreements, which involved a public inquiry. The firm also acted for Intu Properties on various High Court and Court of Appeal actions relating to planning permissions and zoning for the Sprucefield Retail Park development. Public sector clients include Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. Practice head Karen Blair is a ‘premier environmental and planning lawyer’.

TLT has a ‘strong Northern Ireland offering’ with particular strength in environmental matters within the energy, manufacturing and real estate sectors. In a showcase of the firm’s planning expertise, the team acted for Full Circle Power on its objection to the Arc21 waste-to-energy plant on the outskirts of Belfast. The team also regularly acts on planning matters and recently advised Braidwater on its planning application for the development of a £50m housing project. On the contentious side, the team is representing Neptune Developments in a challenge to plans for a manufacturing facility. Practice head Andrew Ryan is praised for being ‘approachable and very easy to work with’.

The planning practice at Tughans has wide-ranging sector expertise and a track record of advice on major projects within the infrastructure, utility and energy sectors. Maria O’Loan leads the practice and has been acting for Apple in judicial reviews and public inquiries relating to the construction of a new data centre in the Republic of Ireland. The group is also advising the Ulster Council Gaelic Athletic Association on the redevelopment of Casement Park; planning consent for this development was quashed following judicial review, resulting in ongoing environmental advice for the new application. Other major pieces of work include advising on a £23m anaerobic digestion plant, assisting with the development of 14 wind farms across Northern Ireland, and handling a number of matters related to transportation hubs.

A&L Goodbody focuses on regulatory and non-contentious work within the real estate sector. Recent highlights include advising Dalata Hotel group on licensing and planning applications for the development of a hotel in Belfast’s city centre. The department also has a strong track record of advice to councils; recent work includes acting for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on a judicial review concerning an unauthorised car park. Property partner Mark Blair leads the team.

Arthur Cox Belfast regularly handles planning-related judicial reviews and major infrastructure and entertainment projects. It also acts for universities in applications to extend campuses. Real estate partner Alastair Todd is best known for his representation of housing associations, hotels and energy facilities in planning applications. Catriona Gibson is a highly regarded litigator with an extensive track record in judicial review proceedings.


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