Firm Profile > Tughans > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Banking and finance Tier 1

Tughans regularly advises on the Northern Irish aspects of international transactions. The practice covers energy project finance, secured and unsecured lending for borrowers and financial institutions, business and debt restructuring, and acquisition and property finance. Fearghal O’Loan heads the team. Former practice co-head David McAleese left the firm.

Commercial property Tier 1

Tughans has particular expertise in advising UK and international funds on investment and development schemes, including major student accommodation, hotel, commercial and residential projects. The team also advises on real estate finance and property portfolio management. 'Very proactive' practice head David Jones is noted for his experience in advising clients locally, throughout the UK, and in the Republic of Ireland; the team also includes consultant Phyllis Agnew; the 'capable and competent' James Pringle; Joe Moore, who delivers 'prudent commercial advice concisely'; and retail specialist Rebecca Moffett.


The practice has real strength and depth in terms of expertise and ability. If you are going to do commercial property business in Northern Ireland, have Tughans on your side.

Tughans is a multidisciplinary practice, which allows it to give a broad range of advice on different subjects.

Rebecca Moffett has a strong legal background, good attention to detail, takes a commercial approach and is very personable.

Tughans offers a very professional service in a very personable manner. The partners draw upon a great depth of experience and are able to offer very sound commercial advice.

Key clients


Tesco Stores Limited

British Land

Grant Thornton

Apple Inc.


Associated British Foods

London Metric


Kilmona Investments

Construction Tier 1

Tughans is noted for its multi-jurisdictional advice; the team acts on high-profile developments across the UK and the island of Ireland, and is particularly active in relation to energy and infrastructure projects. Clients include major local contractors and employers, as well as funders and developers. The team also has a strong reputation on the contentious side; 'exceptionally clever litigator' Michael McCord, who heads the practice jointly with Tim Kinney, handles construction litigation and arbitration. Kinney has particular strength in project procurement.


The team has the ability to see the bigger picture and offers solid strategic advice.’

Michael McCord is a clear thinker with quick grasp of principal points and a strong communicator.

This is the strongest and best team in Belfast in this field. They can deal with any case and are very capable and extremely well regarded.’

Michael McCord is the undoubted market leader in Belfast. He is technically brilliant with an eye for detail and a work ethic which is unsurpassed. He is very focused on getting the best outcome for his client and is forensic in his ability to determine what really matters.

Tughans is a one-stop shop; the service is professional and the team is always available to deal with issues.

Key clients

Indaver NV

Northstone (NI) Limited

Adston Construction

Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) Limited

McAleer & Rushe

Apple Inc.

RPS Group plc

Mercury Engineering

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

Lagan Construction Limited

Corporate and M&A Tier 1

Private equity transactions are a particular area of strength for Tughans, which has a high-profile client base including a number of investment funds and investee companies. The team also advises on M&A, corporate finance, joint ventures and corporate restructuring, with a focus on the technology, food and drinks, engineering and energy sectors. The 'excellentJohn-George Willis and James Donnelly lead the team, which also includes 'very capable' private equity practice head John McGuckian and the 'personable and practicalCiara Lagan.


Tughans has a depth of knowledge both in team and individuals. They put themselves in front and drive and solve whatever the problem. I feel that they are the best in their field.

Tughans gets things done! The partners in the team are exceptional and work together in such a way that complex deals can be achieved through their combined expertise. They don’t just advise and then leave the problem of final decisions at the feet of their client. They work until the right path is clear and then accompany their client to the end of the journey.

James Donnelly is a leader who can guide clients through the demands of a purchaser at exactly the right level. James’ key ability is an appropriately pragmatic approach that balances in favour of his client where to mitigate risks and where to accept risks.

Tughans offers a diverse professional service.

Associate Brendan Donnelly is excellent.

Ciara Lagan is very efficient and pragmatic.

Director Paul O’Brien is very knowledgeable, both with respect to the law and with respect to the client’s business. He is pragmatic and is easy to work with.

Tughans has a very strong team all round. It is experienced and technically highly competent, with good strength in depth.

John McGuckian and Paul O’Brien provide dedication and commitment to every transaction. They are technically strong and take a commercial view. They provide good advice and hold their line when required without becoming entrenched.

John McGuckian is an exceptional local lawyer.

Key clients

Foyle Foods

Pentech Ventures

Kernel Capital

Monaghan Mushrooms Group

Randox Laboratories

Invest Northern Ireland

FP McCann Group

Cordovan Capital

Business Growth Fund (BGF)


Henderson Group

Dispute resolution Tier 1

Tughans acts for a number of high-profile domestic and international clients, and has wide-ranging expertise in property litigation, professional negligence, insurance disputes and defamation. Commercial and corporate litigation, including partnership and shareholder disputes, are also areas of strength. Practice head Michael McCord is 'the leading construction lawyer in Northern Ireland', while managing partner Patrick Brown specialises in procurement challenges and Toby McMurray in contentious insolvency.


Michael McCord is a very strong, logical thinker. He is commercial, experienced and pragmatic.

Michael McCord and associate Grainne Lee perform their work professionally and efficiently and quickly understand the nuances of the industry and the client’s position in the dispute case.

The team is led by a strong partner in Michael McCord, who quickly assesses the important issues and is not afraid to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s position.

Tughans is very highly regarded and covers the full service of commercial litigation, insolvency, construction, intellectual property and procurement, to name but a few. The team is large enough to cover the biggest cases and is the market leader in Northern Ireland.

Toby McMurray is the leading insolvency solicitor in Belfast with a wide range of commercial litigation cases. He is hugely experienced and able to cover the full gambit of disputes. He is known for his commercial savvy and is very personable, and he has one of the sharpest minds of any solicitor in Northern Ireland, which means he is the “go to” guy for banks and insolvency practitioners in particular.’

Toby McMurray is known for his ability to resolve cases quickly and efficiently and has a hugely loyal client base. He is supported by an extremely able team of associates within Tughans.

Tughans has the strongest team of associates and the best-regarded commercial litigators in Belfast.

Tughans has the ability to see the bigger picture and offer solid strategic advice.

Michael McCord is a clear thinker with a quick grasp of the principal points and a strong communicator.

Patrick Brown has huge experience and is always willing to provide expert support and advice.

Key clients


British Telecom

BAM McCann

Invest NI

Bank of Ireland

NI Water

McGrath Bros Engineering Group


Dale Farm

Randox Laboratories

Employment Tier 1

Tughans advises on corporate employment law, such as the employment aspects of large-scale M&A transactions, as well as representing clients in contentious disputes, including tribunal claims, class actions and injunctive applications. The team acts for local clients, as well as those in England and Wales and the Republic of Ireland, in a range of sectors, including public sector bodies. Practice head Anna Beggan specialises in complex class actions and TUPE issues. Patricia Rooney was promoted to partner.


The team provides a very professional, competent service.

Rachel Richardson and Anna Beggan are excellent in terms of their knowledge and professionalism and provide very practical advice.

Tughans has a very experienced and proactive team.

Anna Beggan knows her subject well.

Key clients

Monaghan Mushrooms Group

FP McCann Group

Intellectual property Tier 1

Tughans advises on the protection and exploitation of IP assets in a variety of IP-rich sectors, but historically the firm has had a particular focus on the technology sector, with clients including start-up and established Northern Irish companies and household-name international companies. As a result of this specialism, key areas of expertise include advising on collaboration, consultancy, franchising, joint venture, licensing and supply, and technology transfer agreements. Adrian O’Connell  leads the practice.

Key clients

Invest NI

Titan IC Systems

Dale Farm

Camlin Technologies

Randox Laboratories

Export Technologies

Tobermore Concrete

Monaghan Mushrooms

Fusion Antibodies

OCO Global

Trucorp Limited

Zero Waste Anaerobic Digestion Limited

David Lynas Consulting Limited

SABSA Education Services Limited

LimeGreenTangerine Limited

TraxTrader Limited

Enviroform Insulation Limited

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 1

'One of the leading medical defence firms in Northern Ireland', Tughans counts a large number of insurance companies and government bodies among its clients, while the 'highly regarded' clinical negligence team acts for leading medical defence organisations. Areas of expertise include catastrophic personal injury cases and occupation disease claims. Kathy McGillie heads the practice alongside Andrew Anthony; he focuses on clinical negligence cases, as does Alistair Wilson. Neil Smyth specialises in claims involving accidents abroad.


Tughans has strength in depth and can handle large and high-profile cases with considerable skill.

Andrew Anthony is a first-class lawyer. He has a good intellect as well as good judgement, and his contribution to cases is very sound.

Alastair Wilson has strong interpersonal skills; he prepares his work well and is excellent with clients.

Nicola Dooher is a first-class associate with excellent attention to detail.

Tughans has an enviable reputation in defence litigation and provides a very efficient, cost-effective and professional service.

Kathy McGillie is the market leader in defence litigation. She is very client focused and extremely commercial. She is well known for being able to quickly assess those cases to be contested and then preparing them with efficiency and skill and ferociously contesting them, whereas she is also quick to realise those cases to be settled and to do so with great efficiency. A master tactician and highly regarded litigator.

Tughans’ expertise in the local market is second to none. The firm has huge experience of the jurisdiction, which shows in terms of its expert advice and guidance.

Kathy McGillie is always available, provides expert advice and is fully supportive.

Neil Smyth involves the client in the decision-making process, and is pleasant, extremely professional and knowledgeable on the subject matter. Neil goes that extra bit further to ensure due diligence is completed on all cases, and is open and transparent in all dealings with the client. Overall, he provides a professional service at the highest level.

Associate Nicola Dooher is efficient, hardworking and returns all emails quickly. Her instructions are clear and concise.

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

Tughans has experience acting on complex and high-profile insolvency and restructuring mandates, particularly those with a multi-jurisdictional element. The practice advises on a range of matters, from corporate restructurings and the use of schemes of arrangement and voluntary arrangements, to corporate insolvencies. Toby McMurray leads the team.

Key clients


Bank of Ireland


Grant Thornton

Keenan Corporate Finance

Bank of Scotland

Bank of Ireland (UK) Plc

Upstream Working Capital

Westland Horticulture

IT and telecoms Tier 2

Tughans counts a number of major Northern Irish companies and public sector bodies among its clients, and is particularly active advising local and international technology companies. The team advises on early-stage investment, M&A, outsourcing and infrastructure projects, and has particular expertise in procurement. Adrian O’Connell, who specialises in data protection and contract agreements, and Patrick Brown head the non-contentious and contentious sides of the practice, respectively. Ciara Lagan and John McGuckian advise on corporate transactions in the technology and telecoms spheres.


‘Tughans is professional and responsive and its advice is very good.’

‘Ciara Lagan and director Paul O’Brien provide sound advice, respond on a timely basis and are completely professional in their approach.’

Key clients

Invest Northern Ireland

Business Growth Fund (BGF)

Kernel Capital

Fusion Antibodies plc


B-Secur Limited

Titan IC Systems

Export Technologies

Monaghan Mushrooms

OCO Global

Camlin Technologies Limited

LimeGreenTangerine Limited

Planning and environment Tier 2

Tughans advises on planning applications for major developments, including infrastructure, residential and student accommodation projects, as well as high-profile judicial review proceedings. The team is also active in the energy sector. The firm's wide-ranging client base includes utilities, public sector bodies and private developers and investors. The practice is led by consultant Maria O’Loan, who specialises in judicial review matters and is praised for her 'experience and dynamism'.


Maria O’Loan has tremendous attention to detail with clear advice. Her client care and responsiveness are superb.

Key clients

Vanden Recycling

Ulster Council GAA

Systems Operator of Northern Ireland

Invest Northern Ireland


Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

Northern Ireland Water Limited

Apple Distribution International

Car Park Services Limited / Slaney Developments

Energy Tier 3

Tughans' 'friendly and capable' team has a wide-ranging client base which includes banks, utilities, developers, transmission system operators and public bodies. The team advises on energy sector M&A, with particular strength in cross-border transactions, and also assists with the financing of major energy projects. John-George Willis leads the practice, while Andrew Kirke, who was recently promoted to director, has expertise in the regulatory and contractual aspects of energy transactions.

Key clients


Rockfire Capital

Adman Civil Engineering

First Trust

Budget Energy

B9 Energy

Northern Ireland Water

Granville Ecopark

Lissan Coal Company

Consumer Council

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: Banking: 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
Ms Phyllis Agnew photo Ms Phyllis Agnew
Mr Douglas Anderson  photo Mr Douglas Anderson
Ms Anna Beggan  photo Ms Anna Beggan
Ms Naomi Cooper  photo Ms Naomi Cooper
Mr Conrad Dixon  photo Mr Conrad Dixon
Mr David Jones  photo Mr David Jones
Ms Noelle McKay  photo Ms Noelle McKay
Mr Michael Mccord  photo Mr Michael Mccord
Ms Rebecca Moffett  photo Ms Rebecca Moffett
Ms Rachel Richardson  photo Ms Rachel Richardson
Ms Patricia Rooney  photo Ms Patricia Rooney
Mr Eamonn Ward  photo Mr Eamonn Ward
Number of UK partners : 23