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Cork, Dublin, London, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco

Nicola Dunleavy

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Work Department

Partner in Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department


Nicola Dunleavy is a partner in Matheson’s Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department.

Nicola has a broad commercial litigation and arbitration practice. Much of her work crosses borders, representing international companies doing business in and from Ireland.

Nicola represents clients in commercial disputes including mergers and acquisitions, regulatory disputes, EU and competition litigation, and constitutional litigation. Her clients are active in the technology and telecommunications, pharmaceutical, chemicals, food and drink, waste, water, energy, mining, and transport sectors. Her practice includes advising in regulatory investigations and defending criminal prosecutions. Nicola has significant experience in major development and property disputes, including environmental and safety disputes.

Nicola leads Matheson’s arbitration team. Her expertise includes advocacy in alternative dispute resolution, encompassing expert determination, adjudication and mediation.

Nicola is Vice President of Arbitration Ireland, and an Associate of the Irish Taxation Institute, an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

She is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops on regulatory enforcement and on commercial arbitration and litigation. She has authored contributions to a number of publications including The International Comparative Legal Guide to International Arbitration 2011 - 2015.


European University Institute, Italy (LLM in International, European and Comparative Law, awarded a scholarship by the Irish Government); Taxation Consultant, Irish Taxation Institute (A.I.T.I.); Trinity College Dublin (LLB, Winner of Exhibition Award).



Within: Construction

The ‘extremely strong’ team at Matheson is ‘quick, responsive and well able to engage with clients’. The team also receives praise for its ability to combine ‘a keen analysis of the relevant risk (both contractual and business) with insight on current market practices’. Practice head Rhona Henry ‘is one of the go-to construction lawyerwith an in-depth knowledge of the sector’. Henry advised a well-known international developer extensively on the Dublin Landings mixed-use development. Contentious partner Nicola Dunleavy ‘brings calmness and understanding’. Senior associate Kimberley Masuda also provides ‘excellent service’.

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Dispute resolution

Within: Dispute resolution

The members of Matheson's team 'engage thoroughly with the subject at hand and are anxious to move the matter forward: they are decision makers'. Clients range from financial institutions and property developers to insurance companies and large multinationals. Tom Hayes heads the team; Sharon Daly and April McClements 'use a common-sense approach to solving any issues and are open to finding novel solutions'; and Nicola Dunleavy is another key contact. Highlights included acting for a financial institution in complex, multi-jurisdictional litigation arising from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme fraud.

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Planning and environment

Within: Leading individuals

Nicola Dunleavy - Matheson

Within: Planning and environment

Matheson ‘offers excellent advice and insight into the legal aspects of foreshore planning and environmental assessment in both the Irish and EU context’. Practice head Nicola Dunleavy embodies ‘calmness and understanding’ and her ‘knowledge is excellent’; she handled numerous judicial review proceedings relating to planning permissions, including successfully defending a develper in planning permission proceedings relating to Knocknamona wind farm. In addition to acting for major clients in the technology sector in relation to data centres, the team also advised on the environmental and planning due diligence aspects of several high-profile transactions. Other key team member Maria Kennedy made partner.

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Public sector

Within: Public sector

Matheson's practice counts a number of public bodies among its clients, and advises on state aid, public inquiries and statutory investigations, freedom of information law, energy and infrastructure projects, and environmental and planning issues, among other matters. Michael Byrne is acting for the Adoption Authority of Ireland in a rare "leap-frog" appeal to the Supreme Court in a case concerning the recognition of foreign adoptions; Helen Kelly is advising a state-owned organisation on the state aid aspects of its receipt of a €30m government loan; and Garret Farrelly is advising EirGrid and Soni on the new wholesale electricity market arrangement for Ireland and Northern Ireland. Nicola Dunleavy is also noted.

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White-collar crime

Within: White-collar crime

The team at Matheson is praised for its 'first-class analysis, forensic identification of relevant issues and focus on solving the problem'; it specialises in advising financial institutions and international companies, covering crisis and risk management, reporting obligations, internal and external investigations, managing information requests, and defending clients against prosecution and regulatory action. Karen Reynolds, who has extensive experience advising clients in the financial services sector, jointly heads the practice with anti-corruption expert Claire McLoughlin. Nicola Dunleavy, who specialises in enforcement actions connected with environmental and planning issues, is also noted.

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