Firm Profile > McKees > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Finance > Banking and finance Tier 2

McKees has a well-established reputation among all the main banks operating in Northern Ireland. Its team's recent work included multimillion-pound financing transactions and matters connected with the leisure/hospitality, retail, social housing and commercial office sectors. Also notable is that a significant portion of the mandates undertaken by the firm have a cross-border dimension, with it attracting a significant number of referrals from other firms in the UK, as well as those in the Republic of Ireland. Consultant Avril McCammon co-heads the practice with Donald Thompson. Philip McBride and Andrea McCann are other key individuals to note.

Practice head(s):

Avril McCammon; Donald Thompson

Other key lawyers:

Philip McBride; Andrea McCann


‘Very responsive, cost-effective and pleasant to deal with.’

‘Very well regarded firm in NI. Particularly strong in banking and finance, with long history of acting for pillar lenders operating in Northern Ireland. Large banking team with market-leading depth of knowledge.’

‘Avril is very well regarded and is a key adviser to many lenders in NI. Donald is highly responsive and has the added benefit of being both NI and English law qualified.’

‘The two partners we normally deal with display empathy, formidable legal knowledge combined with a quickness to help set our requirements in a practical delivery schedule and a willingness to quickly (and without prompting) ensure matters are taken forward with other legal firms and related stakeholders. This a far cry form what we often see elsewhere. The partners we most often engage with: Donald Thompson and Avril McCammon.’

Key clients

Danske Bank

Bank of Ireland

Ulster Bank



Oxane Partners


The Housing Finance Corporation Limited

TFG Capital Limited

Insurance > Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 2

McKees has particular strength in handling issues arising from accidents in the agricultural sector, and also focuses on broader areas including road traffic and construction-related accidents. Key members of the team include catastrophic injury specialist and former Deputy County Court Judge Leonard Edgar, and managing partner Chris Ross, who is notably skilled in construction cases.

Other key lawyers:

Leonard Edgar; Chris Ross


‘Leonard Edgar in particular is an exceptional lawyer with great experience, nous and pragmatism. Leonard has an exceptional ability to master the facts and legal issues in any given case and to identify and skilfully analyse the core issue in the case.’

Northern Ireland > Dispute resolution Tier 3

Banking litigation is a particular forte of McKees, with a client roster including two of Ireland's 'Big Four' banks as well as Nama, a major government agency in the Republic of Ireland. The team has further expertise in commercial disputes, defamation cases, intellectual property disputes and professional negligence litigation. Managing partner Chris Ross is the key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Chris Ross

Key clients

EP Kilroot Limited

LE Pritchitt Limited

Ulster Bank Limited

Concept Life Sciences Ltd

McCulla Ireland Ltd

Druids Golf Ltd

Tarrant International Ltd


Orla Wallace, Wallace & Company, Administrator and Trustee in Bankruptcy

AIB Group (UK) plc

MCS Group

Ulster Garden Villages Ltd

The firm: McKees is a family firm which was established by our founder John McKee back in 1887. Over a century later we are established as one of the leading commercial law practices in Northern Ireland, with an additional presence in London. Our expert, multi-jurisdictional team provide our clients with the support they need to adapt to changing circumstances and to maximise opportunities.

At McKees we focus on understanding our client’s challenges as only then can we provide advice and solutions that work for them. We act for local and international clients having developed strategic alliances with full-service law firms in the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Europe and the United States. These alliances mean we can offer clients access to specialist legal advice globally as and when required.

Our commitment is to provide a clear direction that enables businesses and organisations to make decisions today that will positively shape their futures tomorrow. It’s our job to see the bigger picture and to recognise and navigate the complications. We deliver advice that enables our clients to make informed decisions.

We have built our team through an extensive knowledge and understanding of the sectors we work in. The expertise we offer is based on a combination of insight, experience and collaboration.

Types of work undertaken
Corporate and commercial: Our team provides advice to a wide range of Northern Irish, GB, Republic of Ireland and international clients in the areas of corporate and commercial law. Our strategic alliance with Ronan Daly Jermyn in the Republic of Ireland also allows us to provide a seamless all-island service to our clients. The members of our team have developed reputations with clients as lawyers who are able to “get the deal done” and deliver advice on complex issues in an intelligible manner to the required timetable. We are inquisitive and have developed those relationships by taking the time to understand our clients’ businesses and the sectors they operate in. In this manner, we work with our clients as trusted partners. With a partner-led team that is based entirely in Belfast, McKees is able to provide class leading expertise at very competitive rates.

Dispute resolution: The team are specialists in both prosecuting and defending actions on behalf of a number of Northern Ireland’s banks and UK mainland-based lenders, insolvency practitioners and corporate clients. These actions include debt recovery, commercial dispute resolution, defamation, intellectual property and professional negligence. We tailor our approach to dispute resolution specifically to the circumstances of a particular case. Skilled in negotiating, we have the expertise to aggressively pursue and defend actions through the courts when required. Our team specialises in the enforcement of personal guarantees and both equitable and legal security as well as repossession, banking litigation and consumer credit matters.

Finance: McKees are renowned in the banking and finance sector and have developed strong relationships with all the major Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and UK banks, lending institutions and financial service providers. Our lawyers have a wide experience in relation to property and corporate security including asset finance, development sites, tenanted developments, and shopping centres. We have also acted for funders on PPP/PFI projects. We have a particular expertise in relation to cross border lending involving the taking of security in the Republic of Ireland and England and Wales as well as Northern Ireland by reason of having lawyers with dual practicing certificates in Northern Ireland and England/Wales or Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. In addition, we have lawyers with considerable corporate insolvency and recovery experience upon which our banking clients are now relying heavily.

McKees provide a full service offering to our clients. The team works closely with colleagues from our corporate team to deliver seamless commercial advice that is backed by the knowledge and experience of lawyers undertaking finance transactions in a wide range of sectors. For transactions involving property, whether simply as security, or for development or acquisition finance, the banking and finance team is supported by a dedicated property team with the capability and experience to deliver to the highest standards, and a real commercial understanding of the issues.

Human resources – employment: We act for both employers and employees in dealing with all manner of employment and equality issues offering prompt practical advice and guidance form early disciplinary and complaint proceedings, to representation at Employment Tribunals. Our employment team has expertise in acting in both advisory and contentious capacities in relation to equality issues, disciplinary and grievance matters, health and safety, data protection, the development of employment contracts, policies and handbooks, the transfer of undertakings, and the protection of business secrets and confidential information. We are here to help our clients manage and resolve all employment dilemmas that they face on a daily basis.

Insolvency and restructuring: McKees provide a wide range of services to insolvency practitioners, banks, accountancy firms, owners and managers of businesses in financial difficulty including voluntary and compulsory liquidations, schemes of arrangement, administrative receiverships, Fixed Asset Receiverships, Administrations and Creditor’s rights on insolvency. McKees understands the financial difficulties that clients sometimes find themselves in and can provide advice and assistance including Bankruptcy and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) to identify the right strategy to adopt to achieve the best outcome for each client. McKees works closely with other law firms and IPs in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Europe and the United States to provide advice on cross-border insolvencies. These alliances mean we can offer clients access to specialist Insolvency advice globally as and when required.

Insurance – personal injury: claimant: We act for both private individuals and Legal Expenses Insurers in relation to an extensive range of accident and personal injury claims, including road traffic claims, employers’ liability and public liability. We are committed to seeking constructive and early resolution to disputes, avoiding court intervention where appropriate and where required, our team is skilled in litigating matters to secure the best possible outcome for our clients. Our team are specialists in focusing on early and thorough consideration of all aspects of a matter to provide comprehensive and realistic advice with a view to resolving cases as expeditiously as possible, without incurring unnecessary legal costs.

Insurance – personal injury: defendant: McKees are experts in defence insurance litigation with over 60 years’ experience in defending an extensive range and volume of claims on behalf of UK and EU insurers, loss adjusters and corporate entities. These claims include employers’ liability, public liability and motor claims, as well as property, breach of contract and product liability disputes. We provide specialist advice on all manner of policy indemnity issues and regulatory representation, including dealing with matters involving the Health and Safety Executive. The team specialises in handling high value catastrophic claims for Insurers and loss adjusters arising out of all types of accidents, including farm accidents, workplace accidents on building sites and in factories and road traffic claims. We also handle complex property disputes and provide specialist policy indemnity advice. Our team has a thorough understanding of the needs of our clients and we employ a pragmatic approach to ensure reduction in the life cycle of claims, and costs management wherever possible.

Licensing: The firm is 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 for a number of individual licensees.

Private client – personal tax, trusts and probate: These services are fundamental to a full-service legal offering. We place considerable emphasis on providing a timely and pragmatic partner-led service. Historically, the team has had many longstanding family and individuals clients. This already strong client base continues to expand through recommendations and referrals, testament of our expertise and commitment to excellence in servicing our clients’ needs. This illustrates the importance which we attach to one of our core practice areas and the strength and depth of experience that we bring to the work.

The McKees team has developed strong working relationships with accountants and specialist tax and financial advisers. We are used to partnering, and working collaboratively with, such advisers to ensure that our clients have all necessary advice to enable them to make informed decisions on their personal and business protection and succession planning.

Projects, energy and natural resources: The McKees energy team brings together the collective expertise from our banking, corporate and commercial, regulatory and property teams with extensive experience of working with developers, local authorities, landowners, banks and other funders.  We have particular expertise in regulatory, competition, public procurement and EU law matters in the energy sector. When receiving advice on any energy matter, it is key that your lawyer has the full picture on all of the issues. Members of the energy team at McKees Solicitors have been involved in all aspects of the development of the gas and electricity markets in Northern Ireland since electricity privatisation in 1992. We can bring that experience to the table in any transaction and work with you as a trusted partner.

Real estate – commercial: We specialise in providing advice on planning, site acquisition and development, the purchase and sale of shopping centres, retail premises, industrial parks, multi-let buildings and hotels as well as dealing with ongoing landlord and tenant matters, option agreements and joint ventures. We have also developed expertise in the transfer of properties to SIPP/SASS pension schemes. Our expertise includes purchases and sales, In Specie transfers, Leases and Lease Renewals, property litigation (including rent arrears and unauthorised payments) and loan back schemes. Our team also has expertise in building and construction contracts, and in dealing with matters appearing before arbitrators and tribunals.

Real estate – residential: The team advises on 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. Our team has expertise in buying and selling residential property, transfer of ownership and all other conveyancing matters. McKees specialise in the re-mortgaging of residential property ensuring high-quality output by utilising tailor-made case management systems to deal with high volume work in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

TMT (technology, media and telecoms): Philip McBride heads up McKees intellectual property and information technology team.

Philip came to the firm after having obtained a master’s degree in computers and Law and has worked for Allstate Northern Ireland as a Business Analyst in Chicago. Chris Ross brings skills in dispute resolution and mediation together with expertise in defamation and passing-off, having advised several high-profile clients in recent years.

Our IP & IT team has expertise in providing advice across the full breadth of IP rights including patents and designs, trademark, and copyright, as well as passing-off and defamation claims. Our team assists our clients’ businesses in identifying, recording and assessing the extent of their IP assets, determining the origin and legal ownership of the IP identified, protecting and managing IP assets, and minimising risk for legal action for infringing third-party IP. We also specialise in recovering IP in cases of theft and enforcing the protection of licensed IP against infringing third parties. Our IP/IT team is at the forefront of GDPR and Data Protection Regulation. We specialise in providing advice on all matters of data protection, as well as provision of bespoke GDPR compliant data protection policies and third-party data processing agreements.

McKees IP & IT team understands the ever-increasing demands on businesses to protect IP and ensure data integrity. We provide tailored assessments of both IP and IT policy integrity, and work with our clients to develop bespoke policies and licence agreements specifically designed to meet the needs of their businesses.  

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner Leonard Edgar 02890232303
Managing partner Chris Ross 02890232303
Banking/finance Avril McCammon 02890232303
Banking litigation Chris Ross 02890232303
Debt recovery Chris Ross 02890232303
Dispute resolution Leonard Edgar 02890232303
Dispute resolution Chris Ross 02890232303
Employment Andrea McCann 02890232303
Financial services Avril McCammon 02890232303
Real estate – residential Philip McBride 02890232303
Insolvency and restructuring Avril McCammon 02890232303
Intellectual property and IT Phlip McBride 02890232303
Licensing Andrea McCann 02890232303
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…
Mr Chris Ross  photo Mr Chris Ross Chris is Managing Partner of McKees and is a partner in the…
 Donald Thompson  photo Donald Thompson Partner – Commercial Real Estate
Number of UK partners : 5
Number of other UK fee-earners : 7
Number of staff in total : 55

CLIENT: Stephen Armstrong

COMPANY/FIRM: RSM Northern Ireland (UK) Limited

TESTIMONIAL: “Donald Thompson is a key contact who has an ability to find solutions to complicated problems, and who provides pragmatic and commercial solutions in a timely manner.”

McKees does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion or political opinion, ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability. In relation to:

(a) recruitment and employment of personnel;

(b) promotion of partners and staff;

(c) the provision of services and acceptance of instructions

(d) use of outside experts and Counsel

Instructions from clients which would fall outside these parameters are not accepted.

The firm is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to providing a supportive and inclusive culture amongst the whole workforce. This means that all job applicants and employees will receive equal treatment regardless of sex, marital or family status, sexual orientation, race, religion or political opinion, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, age or disability. When selecting an individual for employment, promotion or training, this selection process will be based on the individual’s own merits and will not be affected by any of the protected characteristics.

Each year on our date of registration, being6th April, we are required by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to submit a monitoring return, which shows the religious breakdown of all our employees, applicants and appointees by Standard Occupational Classifications and by sex, for that year. Every 3 years we complete an Article 55 to review practices and potential trends.

All applicants complete a Monitoring Questionnaire, which also records age, disability (if applicable) and ethnic origin. This information is for monitoring purposes only and is not used in the selection process.

The firm is committed to creating a positive and supportive working environment for all staff and clients alike.

Positive action by the firm

  • Job advertisements – job advertisements wherever placed will include the following statement: ‘McKees is an Equal Opportunity Employer”
  • Recruitment – the firm will take steps to ensure that applications are attracted from both sexes, all age groups, both sides of the community and all races and from disabled people, and will ensure that there are equal opportunities in all stages of the recruitment process. Any publicity relating to the firm and employment will make reference to the equal opportunity policy.
  • Promotion :- promotion within the firm is based solely on merit.
  • Discipline :- the firm will treat seriously and take action when any employee has a grievance as a result of discrimination or harassment on sexual, racial, or sectarian grounds or on grounds of disability, age or sexual orientation.

Procedure for dealing with complaints

1. Internal staff

The normal grievance procedure will be followed, except that any accusation of bullying or harassment, or any comments of a sectarian, religious, sexual, ageist or disability nature will be viewed very seriously, and an immediate formal investigation will take place.

Any member of staff found guilty of behaving in a discriminatory manner may face summary dismissal for gross misconduct.

Victimisation towards anyone who has raised a grievance is also viewed very seriously.

2. External Clients

Any complaint received from a client concerning alleged discrimination will be dealt with using the Firm’s formal client complaint process/policy.

All staff have a duty to act in accordance with this Policy and to treat colleagues, clients and visitors with dignity at all times and not to discriminate against or harass other people, regardless of status.