Firm Profile > Worthingtons > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant Tier 1

Worthingtons has a 'professional practice with a great reputation'; the team is particularly noted for its strength in clinical negligence claims, especially relating to neonatal and maternal injuries. The team also handles a range of personal injury work. The Newtownards-based team is led by managing partner Ciaran McConnell; Nikki McConnell, who specialises in birth injuries resulting in complex brain damage; and newly promoted partner Claire McDaid.

Practice head(s):

Nikki McConnell; Ciaran McConnell; Claire McDaid

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Duncan


The service I received from Worthingtons could not be better in any way.

Claire McDaid does more for the client than is strictly required.

Worthingtons is a very approachable, friendly, competent and professional practice to deal with. You are made to feel welcome and valued.

Nikki McConnell is always approachable and explains matters and all the legal jargon in plain English.

The team is wide-awake, dynamic, completely informed, and engagingly friendly but totally professional.

Nikki McConnell and Jonathan Duncan are on top of their game – they are competent, informed, and efficient.

Claire McDaid is extremely efficient. She doesn’t over-promise and sets realistic expectations.

Commercial property Tier 3

Worthingtons' 'extremely client-focused' team is known for its landlord and tenant specialism; the firm has particular strength in acting for retail tenants, with major local and national names among its clients. The team is also increasingly active advising on investment acquisitions, and advising clients in the telecoms and charity sectors in particular on the management of their property portfolios. Graham Pierce leads the team following the departure of David Wilson for Johnsons Solicitors.

Practice head(s):

Graham Pierce


Solicitor Michael Duffy is superbly professional, thorough and very approachable and generous with his time.

The team is focused on the client and getting the best job done.

The team is committed to sorting issues out in a timely manner and take it as personally as if they were working for the client in house. Graham Pierce leads his team in this manner by example.

Worthingtons acts swiftly, professionally and completely to the clients’ satisfaction.

Graham Pierce goes above and beyond to ensure every angle is covered in a detailed and professional way. He acts with speed and corresponds with clarity on all matters so that clients are fully informed throughout the process on progress and tight timescales are achieved.

Key clients

Golf Holdings Group

Dixons Carphone plc (including Currys PC World)

Telefonica (O2)

The Works Stores

Quiz plc


Premiere People (part of Cordant Group plc)

Hotel Chocolat


Build-A-Bear Workshop

Boux Avenue (Ryman Group)

Extern Ireland

Dispute resolution Tier 3

Worthingtons has a strong commercial litigation practice, including acting in shareholder and partnership disputes, and is also noted for its public law and judicial review expertise. Clients include local and multinational companies such as major retailers and legal expenses insurers, and a number of charities. Ciaran McConnell heads the practice along with clinical negligence partners Nikki McConnell and Claire McDaid.

Practice head(s):

Ciaran McConnell; Nikki McConnell; Claire McDaid

Other key lawyers:

Brian Moss


The team is outstanding in terms of client care and case management, particularly regarding more complex cases involving sensitive issues. The members of the team have superb interpersonal skills and are highly effective communicators. They are professional, yet approachable and accessible. They are reliable and consistent in providing a high-quality service.

We have been particularly impressed by Brian Moss and solicitor Emily Paisley, who have shown great skill, professionalism and flexibility in working with a wide range of clients. They are able to maintain a highly professional approach while showing empathy and respect to clients and colleagues.

Key clients

AA McGuckian Ltd

Kinetic Insurance Brokers Ltd

AB1 and AB2 (minors)

Bradley Thallon Properties Ltd

HM1 (a minor)

Advantage Finance Ltd

MJ2 (a minor)

White Park Capital Partners Ltd

Employment Tier 3

Worthingtons is noted for its strength in tribunal litigation, particularly defending insurance companies and representing local government bodies; the team's client base includes a range of public, private and third sector employers. Louise McAloon took over as practice head following the appointment of Maxine Orr as an employment judge. Newly promoted partner Niall McMullan regularly represents charities.

Practice head(s):

Louise McAloon

Other key lawyers:

Niall McMullan; Toni Fitzgerald-Gunn


The team has an excellent understanding of the client’s business and culture and, critically, the context in which they operate. Any advice is specifically tailored to reflect this.

Niall McMullan provides an outstanding service, with sound clear advice, in the most complex of employment matters.

The team is very efficient, personable and capable.

Niall McMullan is reliable, knowledgeable and understanding of the client’s issues and concerns. He provides concise and practical advice.

Key clients

Firstsource Ltd

Gordon Downey

Derry City and Strabane District Council

Robinson Services Ltd

With offices in Belfast and Newtownards, this well-established firm provides corporate and commercial services, as well as employment and litigation advice for business clients, together with private client services including family law, wills and probate, estate planning, medical negligence, and contract and consumer disputes.

The firm: The firm’s services for business clients are largely provided from its offices in Belfast in the dynamic Cathedral Quarter, which has experienced significant regeneration in recent years and is now a focus of arts and culture, as well as many of Northern Ireland’s creative digital businesses, start-up companies, and software and technology firms.

Through continuous investment in business development, its personnel and IT, Worthingtons prides itself on its quality and speed of response. It adopts a practical and commercial approach based on a high degree of competence in its areas of expertise, combined with an approachable manner and a desire to deliver value for money. It is known as being innovative and effective, while not over-engineering its solutions. The client base includes a number of substantial corporates such as, Dixons Carphone, Northern Ireland Electricity, Telefonica/O2, Hotel Chocolat and Vodafone, as well as many local councils, private local companies, and smaller businesses and start-ups.

Recent developments include: employment team advising nine 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; winning a place on Northern Ireland Electricity’s legal panel for property work; and acting for household-name retailers on store openings in Northern Ireland.

Types of work undertaken:

Company and commercial: Our Company & 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 stretching across the UK and Ireland, EU, USA, Canada and Australasia. We take great pride in our efficient approach and commercial awareness and strive to guide our clients to success and continued 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 the last number of 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 Commission, trading, reviewing constitutions, contracts and funding arrangements. The team also bring in specialists from other departments to advise e.g. 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, First Trust 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. 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 6 employment law solicitors carrying significant caseloads acting on behalf of public, private and third sector employers. It has an unrivalled presence and vast working knowledge and experience of the tribunal system. Amongst the legal profession and indeed the judiciary (previous partner now 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 4 of the 6 further education colleges in Northern Ireland, 8 of the 11 local councils and 2 of the top 4 local banks. The department has built on its success 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 department has over 19 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 is known for its practical and fast-paced commercial and pragmatic advice and is considered expert in the field.

Commercial litigation: The Commercial litigation department experience is diverse and ranges from partnership and shareholder disputes, breach of contract claims, debt recovery and property litigation on behalf of commercial clients, 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 actions against NI residents), 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.

Medical negligence is a notable area of expertise, including a number of recent settlements of cases of catastrophic brain injury for in excess of £4m over the lifetime of the clients. Worthingtons have an established and impressive track record in advising on multi-million pound cases, involving cerebral palsy and currently have a number of these cases ongoing. A considerable number of cases arising from Cauda Equina, cosmetic and dental surgery are also presently 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. Worthingtons have the experienced, dedicated team required to ensure all cases are dealt with the sympathy and sensitivity they deserve.

Private client services include a comprehensive wills, estate planning and probate service, including advising high-net-worth individuals in estate planning and trusts. Our family law team run a busy and successful practice dealing with all aspects of family law including divorce, financial settlement, child care matters, international cases, surrogacy and adoption law. We are also proud to be one of the few firms of solicitors in Northern Ireland who specialise in dealing with educational law issues in particular in the area of special educational needs. Finally we have a large and very busy team based at our Newtownards office who handle residential property sales and purchases across Northern Ireland.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior and Managing Partner Huw Worthington
Litigation Ciaran McConnell
Medical Negligence & Litigation Nikki McConnell
Employment Louise McAloon
Family Clare Curran
Commercial Property Graham Pierce
Company & Commercial and Charities Catherine Cooney
Employment Niall McMullan
Litigation Claire McDaid
Company & Commercial Celia Worthington
Debt Recovery Emily Paisley
Photo Name Position Profile
 Catherine Cooney  photo Catherine Cooney
 Nikki McConnell  photo Nikki McConnell
 Graham Pierce  photo Graham Pierce
 Rachel Toner  photo Rachel Toner
Number of UK partners : 9
Number of other UK fee-earners : 21

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.