Firm Profile > Tughans > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Banking and finance Tier 1

Tughans regularly acts as Northern Irish counsel on major cross-border acquisition and real estate financings. Leading the practice is Fearghal O’Loan, who is adept at handling secured and unsecured lending mandates with notable experience in multi-jurisdictional matters. Douglas Anderson is another key member of the team and has carved out a niche in the renewables financing space.

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‘Very diverse team with specialist advice for all our queries. Very attentive and had a fundamental grasp of our business; supportive and very clear and succinct advice.’

‘Douglas Anderson understands our business at a fundamental level and frequently goes above and beyond. He’s always available for queries and quick turnaround when needed. Very responsive and assists on very complex loan agreements.’

‘ Tughans are a professional and highly skilled practice who provided sound legal advice on the transaction. They are superb at translating legal points into commercial points and their ability to provide seamless cross jurisdictional advice was critical.’

‘Fearghal O’Loan provided excellent big picture advice at the outset of the transaction and he then led the transaction with the utmost professionalism, diligence and calmness.’

‘Associate Nichola Coghlan was also supremely professional, diligent and efficient. Throughout the transaction we were totally confident that Nichola had every point covered, due to her diligent manner, and we felt in the safest of hands.’

‘Nichola Coghlan is an example of exceptional talent making her way through the ranks.’

‘Fearghal O’Loan and Douglas Anderson are a formidable team who put their clients’ needs first above all else. They often go beyond the call of duty.’

‘The Tughans team , led by Fearghal O’Loan are engaging, relevant and skilled. They are proactive and always contactable – so that we feel that we have a real partner acting for our business. Fearghal O’Loan, and his team are a pleasure to work with and often come up with interesting solutions and suggestions to aid our business .’

Commercial property Tier 1

Tughans has an established reputation for its work for institutional investors, with areas of recent growth including student accommodation and build to rent schemes. Practice head David Jones is dual qualified in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and splits his time between the two jurisdictions, advising an impressive client roster on complex development matters. He is supported by the 'very able' and 'high quality lawyer' Joe Moore, an expert in property and acquisition disposals. Other key names include Rebecca Moffett, who has been very active in advising Translink on its real estate issues. Commercial property transactions expert Phyllis Agnew continues to work as a consultant, as does development and leasing expert John Mills.

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‘Tughans has extensive areas of expertise and a very able team across many legal disciplines.There is a combined dynamic which is special and difficult to find in other practices in Belfast.’

‘Joe Moore is a very able and high quality lawyer. Furthermore, his natural ability and efficiency enables him to provide quality responses rapidly. Exactly what we require in property and land acquisitions and disposals.’

Key clients

Tesco Stores Limited

Deloitte LLP

Apple Inc

Grant Thornton

Associated British Foods




Brookfield Property Partners

BAE Systems Pension Fund Trustees Limited

Construction Tier 1

With expertise in both disputes and transactions, Tughans is a key name in the local market as well as in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, as exemplified by its recent mandate advising Apple on its new data centre facility in Galway. Senior partner Michael McCord has extensive experience in construction disputes, with expertise spanning litigation, arbitration and mediation. For non-contentious work, Tim Kinney is an important figure and has advised on high-scale commercial and public development projects.

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‘In-depth knowledge of construction law with plenty of experience. ‘

‘The ability to think about problems in a holistic fashion and deliver tailored advice to clients. They will not cut corners and will consider every option.’

‘Tim Kinney is able to bring his considerable knowledge of construction law to bear on every problem. He combines this with his industry experience to provide holistic and practical advice. He originally qualified as an architect so he has a good understanding of the commercial reality of construction projects and can quickly get to grips with complex technical issues.’

‘Tughans have negotiated construction contracts for me on several projects. They have protected our interests in a manner that has been mutually acceptable to our clients. They operate in a timely fashion and are easily accessible and contactable.’

‘Tim Kinney is a true legal professional who instils confidence as soon as you meet him. He quickly understands our remit on complex construction projects and advises appropriately. He operates at a professional level that, from my experience, surpasses our client’s legal teams mostly out of large practices in London.’

Key clients

Deloitte LLP

BAM/F.P. McCann Limited (Joint Venture)

Indaver NV

Lagan Construction Limited

McAleer & Rushe

Obelisk Power Systems Limited

Apple Inc.

Adcrete Limited

Hinch Distillery Limited (Terry Cross CBE)

Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) Limited

Corporate and M&A Tier 1

Private equity and venture capital transactions are a hallmark of Tughans' corporate practice, which counts major investment houses including Techstart Ventures LLP and Kernel Capital on its client roster.  James Donnelly leads the practice and stands out for his expertise in the engineering, technology and construction sectors. John McGuckian is a key name for the firm's private equity work and has earned mandates from major institutional and private investors. Former senior partner John-George Willis is now a consultant and an independent non-executive director. Ciara Lagan departed to Allen & Overy LLP.

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Key clients

Techstart Ventures

Kernel Capital

Foresight Group LLP

Invest Northern Ireland

Plotbox Inc.

Tascomi Limited

Deloitte LLP

Mattioli Woods Plc

Invest Northern Ireland

Staffline plc

Dispute resolution Tier 1

Tughans is best known in the market for its expertise in real estate, construction and procurement disputes. Senior partner Michael Mccord sits at the helm of the group; he has expertise in litigation and arbitration proceedings and particular experience in contract breach litigation, negligence claims and debt recovery issues. Managing partner Patrick Brown is another key name to note and is adept at procurement challenges. Toby Mcmurray, who focuses on insolvency, fraud and shareholder disputes, is also recommended.

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Key clients

NGD Properties

BAM McCann



Northern Ireland Water

Ardmore Advertising

Ulster Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association

Randox Laboratories

Telecoms Management


Employment Tier 1

Tughans is particularly active in advising on the employment aspects of M&A transactions, and also acts in injunctive applications, unfair dismissal disputes and discrimination claims. Anna Beggan leads the team and has acted before the Employment and Industrial Tribunal courts, as well as the High Court.  Patricia Rooney is highly skilled in TUPE and outsourcing issues.

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‘The speed of response to a query is second to none. I have complete confidence in Anna Beggan and her team. They act with integrity in a conscientious and efficient way in all matters.’

Key clients

Northern Ireland Water Limited

Agri Food and Biosciences Institute

Westland Horticulture Limited

Monaghan Mushrooms Group

FP McCann

Deloitte LLP

Techstart Venestures LLP

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 1

The team at Tughans handles a range of cases concerning catastrophic injuries, industrial diseases and motor accidents. Kathy McGillie, who leads the practice, defends major insurers against personal injury claims. Employer's and public liability claims are handled by Neil Smyth, who has a track record of work on cases involving the Republic of Ireland. Andrew Anthony is also a well-respected name in medical defence work, as is Alistair Wilson.

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‘The team at Tughans are hands-on and go the extra mile when needed.’

‘Neil Smyth is a top-class defence solicitor. Having seen first hand how he defends clients, both North and South of the Irish border, I can only say that when he is representing my clients, I am most comfortable as he is a superb defence solicitor.’

‘Professional and caring individuals that consider their customers’ needs in the process and always take time to listen to their client – a great team.’

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

Tughans' client base consists of major banks in the UK and Ireland, as well as global accountancy firms. Clients single the team out as 'the first port of call for many insolvency practitioners faced with difficult legal issues'. Leading the team is Toby Mcmurray, who 'has well established connections with many banks and accountancy firms' and 'is well respected by colleagues and the judiciary'.

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‘Involved in many high-profile and contentious insolvency disputes, first port of call for many insolvency practitioners faced with difficult legal issues.’

‘Toby McMurray is the key figure. He has well established connections with many banks and accountancy firms. He is well respected by colleagues and the judiciary.’

Key clients




Grant Thornton

Bank of Scotland

Bank of Ireland

Horwood Neill Holmes


Kilmona Property Limited

Interfrigo Ltd

Intellectual property Tier 2

Tughans distinguishes itself in the market through its expertise in technology licensing deals, often involving separate parties in the US or the EU. Adrian O’Connell is the key name and alongside his involvement in the technology sector is very active in the manufacturing, food and retail industries.

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‘Over the many years that I’ve worked with Tughans, they have always made an effort to understand the value of the IP that’s being licensed.’

‘Their guidance has been quick, accurate and helped to bring value.’

‘The firm has a willingness to talk through options without walking onto cost. I’ve had many meetings talking about concepts in principle which were not charged. They are willing to play the “long game” and this builds a stronger relationship.’

Key clients

Randox Group

Fusion Antibodies PLC

B-Secur Limited

EOS Group

Dale Farm

Sabsa Education Services


Hughes Insurance

Westland Horticulture

Tobermore Concrete Products

Fourds t/a BLOC Blinds


Algol Applications

Joule Group

Zymplify Limited

Blk Box

IT and telecoms Tier 2

With a client base that ranges from local startups to Silicon Valley giants, Tughans is highly experienced in advising on licensing and commercial agreements, as well as private equity and venture capital deals. Adrian O’Connell, who leads the team, is very strong in data protection, contractual agreements and IP. Corporate partners John McGuckian and John-George Willis also have a track record of work on transactions involving the technology sector.

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Key clients

Invest Northern Ireland

Techstart Ventures LLP

Business Growth Fund (BGF)

Kernel Capital

Randox Group

Fusion Antibodies plc

OCO Global Limited


B-Secur Limited

Titan IC Systems

Export Technologies

Monaghan Mushrooms

Algol Applications

Joule Group

Gofyt Limited

Planning and environment Tier 2

The team at Tughans is led by Maria O’Loan, who handles commercial planning and environment transactions, advising on local developments as well as projects across the UK and Ireland. She is now working as a consultant, and is supported by director Naomi Cooper and associate director Emma-Rose Rooney, who are both experienced in planning and environment litigation.

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‘Maria O’Loan responds very quickly to emails and phone calls, even when not in the office, and is very easy to talk to.’

‘I completely trust Maria O’Loan’s judgement as she has fully explained why certain actions are taken and at what stage they are appropriate. I cannot recommend her highly enough.’

Key clients

Ulster Council of the GAA

NI Water

Vanden Recycling

Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners

System Operator of Northern Ireland

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council



Foyle Foods

Heron Bros Limited

Energy, project finance and PFI Tier 3

Tughans operates under the leadership of director Andrew Kirke, who has particular insight into the energy sector having worked on secondment for SONI, the transmission system operator for Northern Ireland. He has particular experience in commercial agreements and leases, as well as disputes with the utility regulator. Construction specialist Tim Kinney is also heavily involved in the energy and natural resources sector.

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Key clients


Greencoat Capital

Adman Civil Engineering

First Trust

Budget Energy

B9 Energy

Northern Ireland Water

Granville Ecopark

Lissan Coal Company

Air Core

Tughans, a leading Northern Ireland law firm, is widely recognised for its pragmatic and commercial approach to the law. The firm advises clients ranging from local entrepreneurs and established indigenous companies to international corporations doing business and those considering FDI in Northern Ireland. The firm has a formal association with leading Dublin law firm William Fry, and also works closely with international firms in Europe, the US and Asia to ensure a seamless multi-jurisdictional service.

Awards: ranked No1: Experian Deal and Advisor League Table 2015 and 2016, Northern Ireland M&A Activity; Corporate Law Firm of the Year 2016 and 2017, Northern Ireland Dealmakers Awards; Young Dealmaker of the Year 2016 (John McGuckian), Northern Ireland Dealmakers Awards.

Types of work undertaken
the team advises financial institutions and corporate borrowers on secured and unsecured finance and lending, and on the structuring of finance and security options. The team has experience in the areas of asset finance, acquisition and leveraged finance, property finance, securitisation and general corporate lending.

Construction and projects: members of the team provide specialist advice on non-contentious and contentious aspects of construction law. The team has acted in a number of high-profile construction projects, advising on such matters as building contracts, professional team appointments, collateral warranties and dispute resolution. The firm has advised on some of the largest PFI and PPP projects in Northern Ireland, principally in the healthcare, IT and infrastructure sectors.

Corporate: the department’s principal activities include M&As, share issues, venture capital and inward investment, joint ventures, shareholder agreements and company reconstructions. The department has been involved in significant transactions across a range of business sectors, and continues to attract a high proportion of the multi-jurisdictional work among Northern Irish law firms.

Dispute resolution: the department, which is the largest in Northern Ireland, concentrates on three specialist areas: commercial; insurance; and clinical negligence and professional disciplinary work. All solicitors in the department have expertise in methods of alternative dispute resolution. The team acts for a number of insurance companies and professionals in professional indemnity cases, and has acted in most significant commercial disputes in NI over the last number of years.

Employment: the team acts for a number of Northern Ireland’s employers, advising on both contentious and non-contentious matters. The team also provides employment advice on mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing and TUPE.

Energy: the team advises clients in the energy sector, principally in the energy-from-waste, electricity and renewable energy technologies markets, on issues relating to real estate, M&A, equity investment, regulatory, asset management and contentious issues.

Environment and planning: the team advises on a range of environment and planning issues relating to real estate, M&A, regulatory issues and contentious matters. The team advises clients on brownfield development, planning applications, enforcement notices and appeals, waste management, permitting and licensing, environmental impact assessment and renewable energy development.

Insolvency and restructuring: the team advises financial institutions, insolvency officeholders, corporates and directors. Having advised on many of the largest and most high-profile insolvencies in Northern Ireland, the team’s experience ensures that it can tackle the most complex restructuring projects and continually fulfil the needs of its clients.

Intellectual property: the department specialises in the areas of IP, ICT, freedom of information and data protection, providing advice and assistance on all aspects of the protection and exploitation of IP assets in a diverse range of sectors. The team has wide exposure to the technology environment in Northern Ireland, and draws leading clients from both the private and public sectors.

Procurement: the procurement team advises public authorities, utilities and economic operators on all aspects of procurement law. It has advised on the successful completion of a significant number of high-value and complex procurements across a range of sectors, and has been involved in many of the leading procurement cases in Northern Ireland in recent years.

Healthcare: the team defends clinical negligence claims, covers professional regulation and provides commercial advice in relation to contracts.

Real estate: the department, one of the largest commercial property practices in Northern Ireland, acts for a diverse range of clients, including private, institutional and public sector bodies and housing associations, in all property and landlord and tenant matters. It reinforces its outstanding reputation by providing strong technical expertise, practical advice and reliable delivery of service.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner John-George Willis
Managing partner Patrick Brown
Banking and finance Fearghal O'Loan
Banking and finance David McAleese
Commercial litigation Michael McCord
Commercial litigation Patrick Brown
Commercial litigation Toby McMurray
Construction Michael McCord
Construction Tim Kinney
Corporate and commercial John-George Willis
Corporate and commercial James Donnelly
Corporate and commercial John McGuckian
Corporate and commercial Ciara Lagan
Corporate and commercial Adrian O'Connell
Employment Anna Beggan
Energy John-George Willis
Energy Maria O'Loan
Environment and planning Maria O'Loan
Insolvency and restructuring Toby McMurray
Insurance litigation Kathy McGillie
Insurance litigation Neil Cahill
Insurance litigation Neil Smyth
Intellectual property Adrian O'Connell
Procurement Patrick Brown
Professional discipline (healthcare) Andrew Anthony
Professional discipline (healthcare) Alistair Wilson
Projects, PFI/PPP John-George Willis
Projects, PFI/PPP Tim Kinney
Real estate Phyllis Agnew
Real estate John Mills
Real estate James Pringle
Real estate David Jones
Real estate Joe Moore
Real estate Rebecca Moffett
Photo Name Position Profile
 David Jones photo David Jones Partner and Head of Department
Number of UK partners : 23