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Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Northern Ireland

Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution - ranked: tier 1

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP has experience handling large-scale, cross-border litigation, and is particularly strong in the energy and financial services sectors. Clients include many of Northern Ireland's leading businesses. Practice head David Kirkpatrick has acted on several high-profile judicial reviews; his areas of expertise also include professional negligence. Laura Gillespie specialises in regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):David Kirkpatrick

Other key lawyers:Laura Gillespie; James Griffiths; Deirdre Cormican


'A first-class, experienced and respected team.'

'David Kirkpatrick, Laura Gillespie, solicitor Meghan Kirk and James Griffiths are responsive, proactive, commercial and practical.'

'Pinsent Masons offers an unrivalled level of expertise in dispute resolution in Northern Ireland. The fact that the firm is known to prepare its cases assiduously means that all attempts at dispute resolution are in a context where opponents recognise that if the case proceeds then Pinsent Masons are truly formidable opponents. They have excellent, well-trained, commercial lawyers.'

'Laura Gillespie and David Kilpatrick are excellent team leaders bringing great legal insight and superb personal skills to their cases. Both are hugely respected in commercial law circles.'

'James Griffiths is an outstanding lawyer with a great ability to analyse the important issues in cases and to present an attractive argument.'

'The team is simply brilliant. They have depth and breadth all the way up the range from junior associates to head of litigation David Kirkpatrick. They have unrivalled commercial litigation experience in Belfast, and know the courts inside out and really can get the inside track.'

'Complementary skills from other departments such as planning and energy add value to the litigators.'

'The team has mediation experience in commercial matters at a very high level.'

'David Kirkpatrick leads from the front. He gets the client's trust and keeps it, and is very good on litigation strategy and delivering the product.'

'Legal director Deirdre Cormican delivers like a partner. She is an excellent litigation specialist and a good drafter, has an eye on detail and can see round corners for the client.'

'Up-and-coming solicitor Meghan Kirk works round the clock to get the documents filed at court and in apple pie order. Only the best will do for Megan as regards a result for her clients. She is wise beyond her years, has excellent technical knowledge and can spot the good points in a case.'

'Associate Catherine Mallon has exceptional client and team handling skills. She is commercially savvy, picks files up very quickly and can seamlessly come on board a case, always adding value.'

'David Kirkpatrick is first class at achieving the best possible outcome for his clients by matching detailed knowledge in this area with sharp practical acumen and excellent people skills.'

'Deirdre Cormican is an excellent coordinator.'

Key Clients

Queen's University

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

Chartered Accountants Ireland


BA Kitchen Components

Tamboran Resources

Work highlights

  • Advising on all aspects of a £2m claim against a contractor and consultant designer in respect of the negligent design and installation of the heating system at Queen's University's main halls of residence
  • Acting for Tamboran in relation to a series of judicial review matters involving ministerial decisions which prevent the client from carrying out fracking activities in Northern Ireland
  • Advised Belfast Harbour Commissioners (BHC) in a £12m dispute with a co-developer regarding the redevelopment of one of the largest Waterfront sites in Western Europe.
Leading individuals

David Kirkpatrick - Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Northern Ireland: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and M&A
Corporate and M&A - ranked: tier 2

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is known for its strength in the energy, private equity, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, regularly advising large local, UK-based and international corporates and private equity firms. The team is also active in M&A and equity capital markets work. Glasgow and Belfast-based Richard Masters took over as practice head following the departure of Kevin Devanny. Richard Murphy, who focuses on energy-related matters, and associates Lisa Early and Michael Hamill are key contacts.

Practice head(s):Richard Masters

Other key lawyers:Richard Murphy; Lisa Early; Michael Hamill


'Pinsent Masons stands out for the consistency, experience, and professionalism of the team.'

'The team has a real understanding of our business and this is vitally important in helping us with difficult and complicated business matters.'

Key Clients

Viridian Group

Belfast City Airport


Niche Drinks


Foresight Group

TCI Renewables

NTR Wind Management

Portman Healthcare

Work highlights

  • Advised US drinks company Luxco on the acquisition of the majority shareholding in Derry-based Niche Drinks Co
  • Advised Headlam on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Ceco (Flooring)
  • Acted for Foresight Group on the acquisition of 100% of the equity of Simple Power, comprising a portfolio of 52 onshore sub-250kW single wind turbines located across Northern Ireland
  • Acted for Siemens in respect of the acquisition of Lightwork Software
  • Advised Greencoat  UK Wind on the acquisition of Brockaghboy Wind Farm Limited from ERG Power Generation SpA

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Northern Ireland: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 2

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP regularly acts on high-value transactions on both the borrower and lender side, and is particularly experienced in energy finance. Other areas of expertise include structured finance, real estate finance (particularly financing for office developments and hotels) and private equity. Edinburgh-based John MacIver leads the team along with legal director Caroline MacLaughlin, who is expanding the practice into niche areas such as education finance.

Practice head(s):Caroline MacLaughlin; John Maciver

Other key lawyers:Seána Donaghy


'The team has a very good understanding of clients' business needs and banking and finance.'

'Caroline McLaughlin, senior associate Stiofán Doherty and Seána Donaghy are particularly strong in their areas and provide an excellent service.'

'The team has strength in depth, is properly resourced and is genuinely commercial and pragmatic.'

Key Clients

Ulster Bank Limited

Northern Bank Limited (trading as Danske Bank)

Bank of Ireland

Ulster Bank Ireland DAC

Tristan Capital and Ellandi LLP

Blackfinch Investments Limited

BP Oil UK Limited

Allied Irish Bank plc


Work highlights

  • Advising a syndicate of banks on the £500m financing of the acquisition of Belfast-based Lagan Group
  • Acting for Mutual Energy on its £200m debt capital markets financing of the Gas to the West Project in Northern Ireland
  • Advising Apex Housing Association in Northern Ireland on continued tranche drawdowns under its £130m funding from the European Investment Bank
  • Advising Luxco on the financing aspects of its acquisition of Northern Ireland-based drinks company Niche Drinks

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Northern Ireland: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 2

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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.

Practice head(s):Paul Gillen

Other key lawyers:Craig Patterson


'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.'

Key Clients

Primark Stores Ltd

Tata Steel UK Limited

CAF Rail Group

Queen's University Belfast


Fujitsu Services Ltd

Henderson Foodservice Group

Persistent Systems

Magellan Aerospace (Greyabbey) Ltd

Portman Healthcare

Serco Limited

Concentrix Europe Limited

Gilbert Ash Limited

Allstate Northern Ireland

Survitec Group Limited

Liberty Information Technology Limited

Work highlights

  • 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.
Leading individuals

Paul Gillen - Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Northern Ireland: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy - ranked: tier 1

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP acts for public and private sector clients in the energy sector, including utilities, energy companies and government bodies, and is advising a number of new investment fund and lender clients on high-value investments in energy projects in Northern Ireland. The team also advises on regulatory issues. Practice head Richard Murphy is 'very knowledgeable in the energy industry across Ireland'.

Practice head(s):Richard Murphy

Other key lawyers:Laura Donnelly; Michael Hamill


'The team's client empathy is second to none. This, combined with a "value for money" service which is continually delivered in a prompt and knowledgeable manner, makes this practice unique.'

'The standout is Richard Murphy, who is always empathetic to clients' business requirements and budget. Despite being a particularly "in demand" individual, he remains a very accessible contact. Richard is also a very affable individual who is a pleasure to work with.'

'Solicitor Matthew McMurray is a very pleasant, approachable and "nothing is a problem" character who will always work to provide an appropriately considered, yet prompt response to any request asked of him.'

'Richard Murphy has excellent technical knowledge.'

Key Clients

Viridian Group

CES Energy


Vayu Limited (t/aNaturgy)

TCI Renewables

The Renewable Infrastructure Group (TRIG)

Oxford Capital

Mutual Energy


firmus energy

The Foresight Group LLP

Greencoat Capital

SL Capital Infrastructure (Aberdeen Standard Investments)

Scottish Equity Partners

SSE Airtricity

Work highlights

  • Advising Mutual Energy on a £250m infrastructure project to bring natural gas to counties Tyrone, Londonderry and Fermanagh.
  • Acting for Foresight Group LLP on the acquisition of Simple Power Limited, including its portfolio of 52 operational onshore wind turbines located across Northern Ireland.
  • Advising Greencoat Capital on the Northern Irish aspects of the acquisition of Brockaghboy wind farm.
  • Advising SSE Airtricity on requirements related to the integrated single electricity market (I-SEM).
  • Acting for Scottish Equity Partners on the acquisition of seven onshore wind turbines from a local developer.
Leading individuals

Richard Murphy - Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Project finance and PFI
Project finance and PFI - ranked: tier 1

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP specialises in advising on complex local, national and international infrastructure projects, acting for a range of public and private sector clients. The practice is led by London-based Adrian Eakin and Richard Murphy, who focuses on energy projects.

Practice head(s):Adrian Eakin; Richard Murphy

Other key lawyers:Ciara Seymour

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Northern Ireland: Real estate

Commercial property
Commercial property - ranked: tier 1

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP 'knows the field very well'; the team advises local and international clients on major transactions and developments throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Retail is a key area of expertise, with clients including retailers as well as investors in shopping centres and retail parks. The practice is also active in development finance and advises on projects and transactions in the public and energy sectors. Belfast office head Andrea McIlroy-Rose leads the team, which includes the 'hardworking' and 'responsive' Joanna Robinson.

Practice head(s):Andrea McIlroy-Rose

Other key lawyers:Joanna Robinson


'Pinsent Masons has a very joined-up and well-organised team with a wide depth of knowledge and experience across all areas. They are easy people to work with, who will take the time to work with the clients' teams and will explain complex issues in an easy-to-follow manner. The team builds up good relationships with advisers acting on the other side.'

'Jo Robinson stands out for her level of knowledge and experience, negotiation skills, great relationships with developers and the lawyers on the other side, and deal management.'

'The team is made up of highly knowledgeable and trust advisers on complex business and legal issues.'

Key Clients

Vinci Airports SAS




Allstate Insurance

Queen's University Belfast

Commerz Real


Work highlights

  • Acting for Vinci Airports in the acquisition of Belfast International Airport, one of the largest transactions of its kind in Northern Ireland during the last year.
  • Advising Apex Housing on its five-year refinancing programme with EIB.
  • Advising MedicX Fund on the development of Kings Hall as healthcare hub.
  • Advising a joint venture comprising two large funds in their proposed first acquisition in Northern Ireland for a student accommodation project in Donegall Street, Belfast.
  • Advising Allstate on the development and completion of its new flagship HQ in Belfast.
Leading individuals

Andrea McIlroy-Rose - Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Next Generation Partners

Joanna Robinson - Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Construction - ranked: tier 3

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP advises on a wide range of high-profile construction developments, including infrastructure, education sector and office projects. Clients include local and international employers, developers and contractors. The practice is led by Belfast office managing partner Andrea McIlroy-Rose; London-based Adrian Eakin; and 'always available and deeply knowledgeable' legal director Ciaran McNamara, whose expertise includes advising on procurement matters and handling construction disputes.

Practice head(s):Adrian Eakin; Andrea McIlroy-Rose; Ciaran McNamara


'Pinsent Masons is responsive to the client's ongoing needs and works hard to meet both their short and longer-term objectives.'

'Ciaran McNamara provides advice at key stages on a range of construction matters from inception to project completion. He is very knowledgeable on all forms of contract and brings a very practical insight to matters at hand.'

'Senior associate James Griffiths is particularly effective on the tactical use of mediation.'

Key Clients

Queen's University Belfast

Education Authority

Lagan College Education Partnership

Allstate / Allstate (NI)

Kerry Group Plc


Hall McKnight Architects

Gilbert Ash

Work highlights

  • Advised the Belfast Region Education Authority on new design and build projects at Elmgrove Primary School, Bunscoil Mhic Reachtain, Our Lady's Primary School and Strandtown Primary School.
  • Advising Queen's University Belfast on the extension to the existing McClay Library and David Bates Building, and the £30m new-build project for a Student's Union Centre.
  • Advising Lagan College Education Partnership on the construction of a new sixth form study in Lagan College.
  • Advising Allstate on an adjudication concerning its new office development in Belfast.
  • Advising a subsidiary of Kerry Group Plc in relation to the latest phase of the development of its food-processing facility in Omagh, County Tyrone, as well as a major extension to the existing facility in Coleraine, County Antrim.
Rising stars

Ciaran McNamara - Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

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Northern Ireland: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 3

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP is particularly strong in IP litigation, where the team handles disputes, including cross-border matters, in the construction, IT, financial services, media and entertainment, and retail and consumer sectors, among others. The team also advises on non-contentious trade mark, patent, design right and copyright issues, including IP rights protection and portfolio management. Senior associate James Griffiths leads the Belfast office's IP and media sub-team.

Practice head(s):James Griffiths


'The team has an absolutely excellent knowledge of the law in this area and keeps pace with every legal development affecting it. This knowledge is combined with first-class organisation.'

'Laura Gillespie and James Griffiths deserve particular mention. They have the ability to make even the most complex disputes manageable and an unrivalled skill at analysing the issues so as to identify the core of a problem and how to resolve it in the best interest of their clients.'

Key Clients

Queen's University Belfast

Ulster Carpet Mills

CDE Global Limited

Funds – Axis

Seven Technologies Group



Chain Reaction Cycles

Brett Martin Limited

Luxco / Niche Drinks

Work highlights

  • Advised Queen's University Belfast on the drafting and negotiation of documentation relating to a number of research projects, including complex multi-party collaboration agreements.
  • Advised Queen's University Centre for Secure Information on the IP aspects of an agreement with Plexal to jointly provide services to deliver a cyber innovation centre in London.
  • Advised Headlam on the IP aspects of its acquisition of Ceco (Flooring) Limited, including carrying out due diligence.
  • Advising Luxco on the IP aspects of its acquisition of the majority interest in Niche Drinks, including carrying out due diligence.
  • Advising NatWest on the IP issues affecting its Entrepreneur Accelerator programme for early-stage and growing ventures.

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Further information on Pinsent Masons LLP

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