Firm Profile > Worthingtons > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant Tier 1

The 'highly skilled' and 'very personable and engaging' team at Worthingtons is a key name in the region for representing individuals who have suffered from clinical negligence during pregnancy or childbirth, encompassing serious brain injuries and cerebral palsy. Newtownards-based Nikki McConnell is a leading specialist in this area, with additional expertise in handling motor accident and industrial disease claims. Belfast-based Claire McDaid has also worked on birth injury cases and acts before the High Court and County Courts.

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‘The PI and clinical negligence team at Worthingtons are widely recognised as specialists in those fields in Northern Ireland. Particularly in complex clinical negligence cases they are very experienced in achieving strong outcomes for often very vulnerable clients.’

‘They achieve strong results for clients as well as ensuring that the lay client’s engagement with the legal system is as positive as possible. They also have a depth of experience in identifying appropriate expert witnesses in a wide range of cases. I cannot recommend them highly enough.’

‘Very knowledgeable in what they do. Claire McDaid has been dealing with my case which has not been an easy one. She is very thorough. Easy to talk to. Good personality. She makes time to listen to my point of view and worries. Always keeps me up to date with what is happening which is very important.

Employment Tier 2

Worthingtons is singled out for its tribunal experience, acting for a client base consisting of local banks, councils and colleges. The 'outstanding' Louise McAloon leads the practice and has recently acted in contentious matters involving issues of public interest disclosure, equal pay, discrimination and unfair dismissal. She is supported by Niall McMullan, who has a similar focus on contentious work, particularly in relation to flexible working detriments and discrimination claims.

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‘The employment team at Worthingtons, led by Louise McAloon, are the people I always recommend if anyone asks for a recommendation for an employment law solicitor in Northern Ireland.’

‘They have a high level of expertise across the wide range of areas that fall under the employment law ‘umbrella’. However, in my view, their abilities go far beyond simply having an excellent knowledge of the very wide range of employment law issues which may arise.’

‘Every member of the team is able to communicate often complex issues in a straightforward manner which the client understands. They are all very dedicated and respond to client queries, often on complex matters, extremely promptly. ‘

‘They have excellent analytical skills. When a client seeks advice on a proposed course of action they will always be thinking of the wider picture and the various other issues, risks/benefits etc. that could potentially arise. Rather than just giving advice on whether something can be done or how it should be done they will be identifying what the client’s motivation is and what they are hoping to achieve and then advise on the best method of achieving that, whilst keeping risk, potential costs etc. in mind at all times. ‘

‘In litigation they display sound judgement and give straightforward advice. In addition they will always be thinking of any wider implications for an organisation arising out of the litigation or any future issues which could arise and give advice on how to deal with such matters.’

‘Louise McAloon is one of the leading employment law solicitors in Northern Ireland. Her depth and breadth of knowledge is outstanding. She has an excellent manner when addressing difficult and challenging issues with clients. She is able to explain both complicated legal issues and also more subtle evidential points during running cases in a way that means the client quickly grasps the issue.’

‘Louise will always advise clients on the wider implications for the organisation arising out of the particular situation or proposed course of action that the client seeks advice on. She is also incredibly tactically astute when involved in litigation and has excellent judgement. She has a real feel for the ebb and flow of running cases, whether to call evidence on certain matters or not, whether to pursue issues in cross-examination or whether to let them lie, what to focus on in submissions and what to perhaps gloss over!’

Key clients

North West Regional College

Derry City & Strabane District Council

Commercial property Tier 3

Advising household names such as Dixons Carphone, Currys PC World and O2, Worthingtons works for retail clients on transactions, lease agreements and tenancy matters. Graham Pierce leads the practice and is an expert in the retail and telecoms sectors, assisting with the full spectrum of commercial property matters.

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Golf Holdings Group

Dixons Carphone plc (including Currys PC World)

Telefonica (O2)

The Works Stores

First Trust Bank

Quiz plc

Extern Ireland

M & Co (Mackays Stores)

Premiere People (part of Cordant Group plc)

Hotel Chocolat


Build-A-Bear Workshop

Boux Avenue (Ryman Group)

Dispute resolution Tier 3

Worthingtons is a boutique dispute resolution firm and has a growing reputation through its work in public law and judicial review challenges. Ciaran McConnell is a key name and an expert in shareholder and partnership disputes, as well as contract breach claims. Claire McDaid, who focuses on commercial and property litigation, is also recommended.

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Key clients

AA McGuckian Ltd

Advantage Finance Ltd

Sports NI

The firm:   Worthingtons is a well-established, medium-sized and growing firm which provides corporate and commercial services to a diverse range of commercial and public sector clients, as well as a strong private client offering. The firm’s business services offering is provided from its offices in Belfast in the heart of the city’s Cathedral Quarter, which as well as being a focus for the arts and culture, is now home to many of the city’s creative digital businesses, start-ups and software and technology firms generally.

Worthingtons prides itself on its quality and speed of response and is known for taking a practical and commercial approach to its work, based on a high degree of competence in its chosen areas of expertise. We do not over-engineer solutions and our people are known for combining an approachable manner and a desire to deliver value for money. We continue to invest heavily in our people, our business development programmes and our practice management infrastructure and look for ways to be innovative and more effective. The firm’s client base includes a number of substantial corporates such as, Dixons Carphone, Northern Ireland Electricity, Telefonica/O2 and Hotel Chocolat, as well as many local councils, private local companies, and smaller businesses and start-ups.

Recent developments include:  employment team advising eight local councils in Northern Ireland in relation to the mergers of councils following the review of public administration; winning Dixons Carphone property work in Northern Ireland; acting for Extern in the assumption of the FASA Harm Reduction Service contracts; being reappointed to Northern Ireland Electricity’s legal panel for property work; and acting for several household-name retailers on their Northern Ireland store portfolios; acting for Telefonica (O2) in its programme of store refits across its entire Northern Ireland estate; being reappointed as panel solicitor to several NI insurance companies.

Types of work undertaken
Company and commercial:  Our company and commercial department is established, expert and professional. The team provide pragmatic and timely advice to a range of businesses and business owners. We advise in all aspects of corporate and commercial work including mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, incorporation, joint ventures and collaborations, shareholder agreements and disputes, franchising, management buy outs, corporate finance, share dilution and investment. The team are also experts in corporate governance, company law and contract law and advise on a wide range of commercial contracts including manufacturing and distribution agreements, contracts of services and products and terms and conditions of business. Our clients range from start-ups, partnerships, sole traders, SMEs, family businesses and international businesses spanning the UK and Ireland, EU, USA, Canada and Australasia. We take great pride in our efficient approach and commercial awareness and strive to be a trusted partner to our clients, playing out part in their success and growth

Charities:  The corporate team also specialises in charity law in Northern Ireland. The legal requirements in this sector have evolved at a fast pace in recent years and the team provide support for boards, committees and their senior management teams on a range of matters including serious incident reporting, Charity Tribunal actions, statutory inquiries, governance, mergers or restructuring, setting up or closing a charity, incorporation, seeking consents from the Charity Commission, trading, reviewing constitutions, contracts and funding arrangements. The team can also draw on the specialisms of other departments in the firm for example to advise on dealing with charity property, charity litigation, employment or GDPR.

Commercial property:  The property practice is one of the cornerstones of the business and has an excellent and growing reputation in many property-related areas. Amongst other things the firm is well-known in the market for its landlord and tenant work and asset management, particularly acting for retailers (often tenant side) whether they be UK-wide household names or local independents including names such as Dixons Carphone, Currys PC World, AIB Bank and The Works Stores. A significant element the practice involves the licensed trade and leisure sectors. The firm is also recognised for having acted for various major telecoms providers in the original roll-out of their infrastructure in Northern Ireland and successfully maintaining those relationships for many years. A significant amount of secured lending work is also undertaken for local and foreign banks and lenders and the firm also has a strong track record in commercial and residential property development including the iconic Obel Tower on the banks of the River Lagan in Belfast. The real estate team’s approach is based on a high level of partner involvement in cases and building strong client relationships in that way. It adopts a pragmatic, no-nonsense approach and is known for being commercial and highly responsive.

Employment law:  The employment team is the largest employment law department in Northern Ireland, with six employment law solicitors carrying significant caseloads acting on behalf of public, private and third sector employers. It has an unrivalled presence and extensive working knowledge and experience of the tribunal system. Amongst legal professionals and indeed the judiciary (one previous partner now being an employment judge) Worthingtons’ employment practice is recognised and respected for its experienced, thorough and well-prepared approach. The firm provides advice and tribunal representation to a wide range of employers across all sectors including relatively small to medium size businesses, large housing associations and charitable organisations. It has an excellent client base including four of the six further education colleges in Northern Ireland, eight of the eleven local councils and two of the top four local banks and is panel solicitor for several insurance companies in Northern Ireland. The department built on its success over many years in insured defence work across Northern Ireland to extend its offering to commercial clients including private advisory, defence of claims, TUPE due diligence support and the delivery of training seminars and workshops, often working in conjunction with Legal Island (the leading workplace compliance training company in the island of Ireland). The department now has over 20 years’ experience of providing solicitor-led, practical advice and guidance to our clients in relation to industrial tribunal, fair employment tribunal, High Court and Court of Appeal representation. Worthingtons’ employment team is known for its pragmatic, fast-paced and commercial advice and is proud to be widely-recognised as one of the leading teams of employment law experts in Northern Ireland.

Commercial litigation:  The commercial litigation team advises clients across a wide and diverse range of practice areas from partnership and shareholder disputes, breach of contract claims, debt recovery and property-related litigation, to professional negligence claims and defence of regulatory prosecutions, as well as firearms licensing, education challenges and public law/judicial reviews. The firm handled the successful challenge to the Province’s health minister’s ban on gay men donating blood and is currently involved in a challenge to the Department for the Economy over the exclusion of a major power plant from the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme.

The firm has dedicated sub teams dealing with commercial litigation, public law and judicial review, commercial debt recovery and professional negligence actions. The firm acts for foreign banks in enforcement action and for local and GB businesses including major retail clients, in all manner of commercial disputes. The team also represent charities in a diverse range of litigation matters including will/probate disputes and the defence of a restitution action commenced by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

Clinical negligence is a notable area of expertise for Worthingtons, including a number of recent settlements of cases of catastrophic brain injury, one which settled for in excess of £4m over the lifetime of the client. The clinical negligence team has an established and impressive track record in advising on multi-million pound cases involving cerebral palsy and currently has a number of these cases ongoing. A considerable number of cases arising from Cauda Equina Syndrome and cosmetic and dental surgery are also handled by the clinical negligence team, as well as cases resulting from misdiagnosis and/or delays in diagnosis of cancer and orthopaedic injuries such as fractures and hip dislocation. The clinical negligence team is also acting in a number of cases related to the large scale recall of neurology patients by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.  Worthingtons has the experienced, dedicated team required to ensure that all cases are dealt with sympathetically and with the sensitivity they deserve.

Private client services:  The firm’s busy private client team based in our office in Newtownards provides the full range of traditional private client services, including residential conveyancing, wills, estate planning and probate services including probate disputes. The extensive family law team run a busy and successful practice dealing with all aspects of family law including separation, divorce, financial settlements, Ancillary Relief, pre and post nuptial settlements, cohabitation rights, childcare matters, international cases (in particular we have two solicitors who are Hague Convention international child abduction specialists and have been appointed to a select panel of practitioners in this area), as well as surrogacy and adoption law.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the firm has experienced recent growth in the area of immigration law.  We are also proud to be one of the few firms of solicitors in Northern Ireland who specialise in dealing with education law issues and in particular, issues arising in the area of special educational needs.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior and Managing Partner Huw Worthington
Commercial Litigation Ciaran McConnell
Medical Negligence & Litigation Nikki McConnell
Employment Louise McAloon
Family Clare Curran
Commercial Property Graham Pierce
Corporate, Commercial & Charity Catherine Cooney
Employment Niall McMullan
Litigation & Medical Negligence Claire McDaid
Corporate, Commercial & Charities Celia Worthington
Litigation Jonathan Duncan
Employment Toni Fitzgerald Gunn
Litigation & Judicial Review Brian Moss
Family Naomi Devlin
Property Janeen McKay
Photo Name Position Profile
 Catherine Cooney  photo Catherine Cooney Partner
 Clare Curran  photo Clare Curran Partner in charge of the Matrimonial/Family and Childcare Department, Solicitor Advocate
 Naomi Devlin  photo Naomi Devlin Naomi is an Associate Partner specialising exclusively in the practise of family…
 Jonathan Duncan  photo Jonathan Duncan Associate Partner
Ms Toni Fitzgerald Gunn  photo Ms Toni Fitzgerald Gunn Toni is an Associate Partner practicing exclusively in the area of employment…
 Ciaran McConnell photo Ciaran McConnell Ciaran is a litigation partner in the Belfast office with a particular…
 Nikki McConnell  photo Nikki McConnell Head of Clinical Negligence Department of Worthingtons’ Newtownards Office for over 15…
 Claire McDaid photo Claire McDaid Claire is a Partner in the Litigation Department undertaking all types of…
 Janeen McKay  photo Janeen McKay Associate specialising in residential property law. Advises on all aspects of residential…
 Niall McMullan photo Niall McMullan Niall is a Partner in the Employment Team in the Belfast Office.…
 Brian Moss  photo Brian Moss Associate partner, specialising in public law / human rights cases in a…
 Graham Pierce  photo Graham Pierce Partner and head of Commercial Property
 Celia Worthington  photo Celia Worthington Consultant to the practice providing support to commercial, corporate and charity teams.…
Number of UK partners : 9
Number of other UK fee-earners : 15

CLIENT: Action Cancer
COMPANY/FIRM: Worthingtons
TESTIMONIAL: As Northern Ireland’s leading local cancer charity we have, for quite a number of years been receiving advice and using the services of Worthingtons Solicitors in relation to a range of charity related issues. In particular we have been using Catherine Cooney for advice and training pertaining to charity law and specifically as it applies to Trusteeship. The advice of Worthingtons is always legally very sound and pragmatic but at the same time the solutions proffered are always very practical and highly deliverable. We would have no hesitation in recommending to anyone Worthingtons Solicitors and their charity law team headed up by Catherine.