Firm Profile > McKees > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 2

John McKee Solicitors acts for a number of high-net-worth individuals, and advises on a wide range of private client matters, including the drafting of wills and the administration of estates, the creation of trusts, inheritance tax planning, and elderly client care and protection work. Gerard Small leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Gerard Small

Banking and finance Tier 3

John McKee Solicitors advises on property, project and energy finance, as well as secured and unsecured loan and credit facilities and securitisation. Clients include a number of banks based throughout the UK and in the Republic of Ireland. Consultant Avril McCammon leads the practice; her wide-ranging experience includes acting for funders on loan portfolio sales, and the financing of corporate acquisitions, residential developments and social housing. Philip McBride and Donald Thompson, who joined from DWF, are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Avril McCammon

Other key lawyers:


The team is able to deliver complicated, key transactions within very tight timelines.

Avril McCammon’s legal knowledge stands out amongst her peers. She is able to see the issues and more importantly provide solutions to keep all parties on board and moving towards a satisfactory conclusion.

John McKee Solicitors is a well-respected practice that represents both lender and borrower-side clients and is capable of managing the full range of clientele from complex high-value matters to SME commercial borrowing. The team is always responsive, commercial and focused on delivering on the client’s expectations.

Don Thompson provides high-quality commercial advice. He has an efficient, common-sense approach which finds solutions not problems, and is focused on driving his caseload to meet the client’s timeframe.

Key clients

Bank of Ireland

Ulster Bank

AIB Group UK plc

Northern Bank t/a Danske Bank

Lloyds Bank

Clydesdale Bank


Dispute resolution Tier 3

Senior partner Leonard Edgar and managing partner Chris Ross lead the team at John McKee Solicitors, which has extensive experience acting for insurers. The team handles construction disputes, professional negligence claims, and commercial and banking litigation, among other matters.

Practice head(s):

Leonard Edgar; Chris Ross

Energy Tier 3

John McKee Solicitors is noted for its 'significant industry knowledge and experience'; practice head Alan Bissett, who joined the firm in June 2018 from an in-house role at AES, 'knows everything there is to know about the power sector in Northern Ireland'. The team has expanded its client base to include electricity and fuel distributors, government bodies, power stations and AD facility operators. The team has been particularly active advising on high-profile M&A transactions in the energy sector.

Practice head(s):

Alan Bissett


Alan Bissett’s knowledge of his clients’ business (and the industry) is wide ranging.

Alan Bissett is an extremely pragmatic lawyer who provides advice in a timely, efficient manner. His availability makes him stand out from his competitors – he does whatever he can to make himself available and provides a true “Rolls-Royce” service. He is the only true energy specialist in Northern Ireland.

John McKee Solicitors has top-notch local knowledge of both the legal landscape and the industry trends delivered in a way that clients can quickly understand.

In addition to being a massive store of knowledge of both the legal structure and the Northern Irish electricity industry generally, Alan Bissett is also an excellent commercial attorney who can help navigate any issues.

Alan Bissett knows the sector and is straightforward to work with.

Alan Bissett is a great communicator, with the ability to clearly explain complex issues and identify options and impacts or risks.

Alan Bissett really knows the Northern Irish electricity market.  His commercial and business insights are invaluable and he is in total command of the legal issues.  He is able to communicate those extremely well, to colleagues and clients and in negotiation. A complete joy to work with.

Key clients

AES Ballylumford Power Limited

AES Kilroot Limited

Department of Finance

Nicholls’ (Fuel Oils) Limited

The AES Corporation

NIGEN Limited

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 3

John McKee Solicitors has a strong track record of handling catastrophic and large loss personal injury claims related to farm accidents, workplace accidents on building sites and in factories, and RTAs. Clients include insurance companies and public bodies. Deputy County Court judge Leonard Edgar, who has longstanding experience advising on health and safety investigations and prosecutions, and managing partner Chris Ross lead the team.

Practice head(s):

Leonard Edgar; Chris Ross

Key clients

National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society Limited


Ards and North Down Borough Council


CIE (Córas Iompair Éireann)

Sedgwick/ Cunningham Lindsey

Commercial property Tier 4

John McKee Solicitors specialises in acting for local authorities, and is active in the public, transport, retail and energy sectors, advising on property acquisition and development and commercial leasing. Gerard Small and Donald Thompson jointly lead the practice; Small, who stands out for his 'personable approach', advises a range of local developers and financial institutions, while the 'first-class' Thompson, who joined from DWF in January 2019, has extensive experience in the care home and retail sectors.

Practice head(s):

Gerard Small; Donald Thompson


The team provides excellent service delivery and commercial, pragmatic advice.

The team provides an excellent client-focused service, whilst getting the job done in an efficient and knowledgeable manner.

Donald Thompson provides simplified analysis of complex issues. He is the person you want on your side in a commercial negotiation.

Donald Thompson and managing partner Chris Ross are well known throughout the commercial property industry and provide good, well-reasoned, no-nonsense advice.

The team at John McKee Solicitors has an extremely professional approach to all matters conveyancing, offering a fantastic advice and support service.  They have a good team of professionals that offer a reliable and accurate service.

The team balances commercial interests, pragmatism and attention to detail to give a very balanced and excellent service.

Gerard Small always makes himself available and proves committed and highly effective.

Key clients

DHL Group

Nationwide Building Society

Arris Global Ltd

Lakeland Dairies

UK Mail Limited

Nicholls’ (Fuel Oils) Limited

Disability Sport NI Ltd

Moore Construction (NI) Limited

Restrana (Belfast) Limited (Five Guys’ Franchisee)

Ulster Garden Villages Limited

McKees is one of the foremost banking and commercial practices in Northern Ireland acting for most of the financial institutions operating in the province.

The firm: John McKee was established in 1887 as a family practice. Despite its growing reputation for banking, it still has a large private client workload. It is also recognised as a specialist in the area of catastrophic insurance defence work. John McKee is a multi-jurisdictional firm.

The firm operates from state of the art modern offices in the centre of Belfast. It also has an office in London to accommodate its corporate and financial services practices. The firm retains a family ethos, with an enviable low turnover of staff and children of partners working in the firm, carrying on a family tradition.

John McKee also believes in the partnership ethos. It achieves excellence through team work and passing on the benefits of its experience from senior lawyers throughout the firm. The atmosphere is friendly and supportive and therefore contributes to the greater good and is valued accordingly.

The firm looks after clients’ interests as if they were its own. Its aim is to achieve the best possible result for clients by combining its knowledge of the law with a practical and constructive approach to clients’ business needs.

Types of work undertaken: Banking/finance: consists of lawyers from traditional banking and corporate backgrounds together with lawyers specialising in housing and commercial property. The firm has won praise for its excellent service and knowledge of banking.

Banking litigation: has a wealth of experience in both prosecuting and defending actions on behalf of a number of Northern Ireland’s banks and UK mainland based lenders. The team tailors its approach to use the litigation process to ensure the best strategic outcome for its bank clients.

Real estate – commercial property: is very highly regarded. It advises vendors, purchasers, developers, landlords, tenants, institutional lenders, borrowers and investors.

Corporate: continues to expand steadily, providing legal services to a wide range of Northern Irish, UK, Republic of Ireland and international clients in the areas of company law, mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.

Debt recovery: has an excellent reputation and is listed as one of Northern Ireland’s leading practices in legal directories. It acts for a number of major UK and Irish financial institutions.

Dispute resolution: lawyers are skilled in running all forms of dispute resolution including litigation, arbitration and adjudication. The team will avoid court intervention where possible by seeking constructive and early resolution to disputes.

Employment: the employment practice provides an extensive range of legal services to some of Northern Ireland’s most established employers on all aspects of National and EU Law regarding employment and industrial relations.

Financial services: assists clients with positioning their business at the cutting edge of the new world of payments. It advises authorised payment institutions, e-money institutions and investment firms on regulatory developments in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Real estate – residential: covers all aspects of residential conveyancing. It is a member of the Law Society’s Home Charter Scheme, which certifies law firms that have met high-quality standards for conveyancing services.

Insolvency and restructuring: provides a wide range of services to insolvency practitioners, banks, accountancy firms, owners and managers of businesses in financial difficulty. In addition, the team can provide advice and assistance to individuals who find themselves in financial difficulty.

Intellectual property and IT: advises across the full breadth of IP rights. Its team has considerable experience in the ICT sector and provides support to its clients that is relevant and pro-active.

Licensing: the firm is well recognised as one of the leading firms in the niche area of liquor licensing and has a long history of acting for local independent chains and also for a number of individual licensees.

Renewables: brings together collective expertise from its banking, corporate and commercial property teams. It has extensive experience of working with developers, banks, local authorities, landowners and funders and can help bring renewables projects to fruition.

Wills, trusts and estate planning: has a proven track record in providing clear, pragmatic advice across a wide range of matters to meet the needs of private clients.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner Leonard Edgar 02890232303
Managing partner Chris Ross
Banking/finance Avril McCammon
Banking litigation Chris Ross
Debt recovery Chris Ross
Dispute resolution Leonard Edgar
Dispute resolution Chris Ross
Employment Andrea McCann
Financial services Avril McCammon
Real estate – residential Philip McBride
Insolvency and restructuring Avril McCammon
Intellectual property and IT Phlip McBride
Licensing Andrea McCann
Banking/Finance Donald Thompson 02890232303
Energy and renewables. Alan Bissett 02890232303
Photo Name Position Profile
 Alan Bissett  photo Alan Bissett Partner – Head of Corporate and Commercial and Energy
 Leonard Edgar  photo Leonard Edgar Throughout his time with the firm Leonard has been involved in dealing…
 Philip McBride  photo Philip McBride Philip is a member of the firm’s banking team and as such…
 Avril McCammon  photo Avril McCammon Avril is a consultant in the banking, restructuring and insolvency team. She…
 Andrea McCann  photo Andrea McCann Andrea is a partner in the employment and the commercial property team.…
 Chris Ross  photo Chris Ross Chris is Managing Partner of John McKee and is a partner in…
 Donald Thompson  photo Donald Thompson Partner – Banking
Number of UK partners : 6
Number of other UK fee-earners : 7
Number of staff in total : 52