Firm Profile > Carson McDowell > Belfast , Northern Ireland

Carson McDowell
Northern Ireland

Banking and finance Tier 1

Carson McDowell has experience acting on the lender and borrower side of domestic and multi-jurisdictional transactions, with a particular focus on energy and real estate finance. The team is also active in advising leading financial institutions on lending to SMEs. Highly regarded practice head Sinead McGrath advises leading banks, peer-to-peer lenders, corporates and energy suppliers, among others.

Commercial property Tier 1

Carson McDowell has 'comprehensive knowledge' and a 'client-friendly approach'. The team advises on local and international investments and major developments in the region, and is noted for its extensive experience in the retail sector, acting for a significant number of retail tenants as well as the landlords of shopping centres and retail parks. Dawson McConkey took over as head of the practice in 2018, following Rosemary Carson's move to a consultancy role; both he and Emma Cooper have particular expertise in the energy sector.

Construction Tier 1

Carson McDowell is particularly active in advising on large construction projects in the social housing, energy, education and ports sectors. In addition to local work, the team has acted on significant developments in Great Britain, including university and office projects. Clients include a number of housing associations, as well as leading Northern Irish contractors. Practice head Stuart Murphy handles both contentious and non-contentious matters, while Kerry Teahan leads the firm's procurement offering.

Corporate and M&A Tier 1

Carson McDowell has particular strength in traditional Northern Irish industries such as construction, real estate and manufacturing, as well as growing sector expertise in energy and technology and cybersecurity. The team acts for leading Northern Irish and international businesses. The 'very goodNeasa Quigley, who specialises in energy and the knowledge economy, heads the team along with M&A and finance expert Richard Gray. Gerard Armstrong and managing partner Michael Johnston are also key contacts.

Dispute resolution Tier 1

The 'professional and friendly' team at Carson McDowell has a 'wide range of expertise with great depth of experience'; it has been particularly active in the media and public sectors, but has also handled contract and company, IP, procurement and competition litigation. The 'responsive and approachable' Declan Magee leads the team alongside healthcare head Roger McMillan. Hugh McGrattan heads the professional indemnity and insurance defence side of the practice, which was strengthened by the firm's recent merger with Francis J Irvine Solicitors.

Employment Tier 1

Carson McDowell's 'excellent' team is noted for its 'knowledge and availability'. It acts for leading local, UK-wide and Republic of Ireland companies, advising on a wide range of contentious employment matters, as well as non-contentious and corporate employment law. 'Outstanding' practice head Orlagh O'Neill specialises in contentious employment, with particular expertise in grievance and whistleblowing investigations, while Rachel Penny's areas of strength include TUPE and restructuring matters.

Energy Tier 1

Carson McDowell has advised on a range of significant regional energy projects, including the construction of gas distribution networks and power stations, and the sale, acquisition and project financing of wind turbine and AD projects. The team has recently expanded its client base to include a number of energy sector businesses and utilities companies. Practice head Neasa Quigley specialises in M&A and equity funding in the sector. Gary McGhee and Emma Cooper advise on the planning and property aspects of energy projects.

Intellectual property Tier 1

Carson McDowell advises on the full range of IP rights, including copyright, patents, trade marks, know-how and commercially sensitive information. In addition, the firm handles IP litigation, particularly patent and copyright infringement proceedings. The team has been highly active advising foreign clients with R&D facilities in Northern Ireland, and has growing expertise in software licensing, ICT managed services and technology transfer issues. Declan Magee and Dawn McKnight head the contentious and non-contentious sides of the practice, respectively, and Peter Guzhar is highly recommended for IP litigation, particularly patent infringement.

IT and telecoms Tier 1

Carson McDowell advises on contentious and non-contentious IT matters, including the negotiation of software licensing agreements and ICT managed services contracts, the development of bespoke software solutions, and the implications of GDPR. The team's clients include foreign companies with IT support operations in the region, large IT operators and local IT sector start-ups, and it also has a growing cyber security client base. The highly regarded Dawn McKnight co-leads the team with joint corporate head Neasa Quigley.

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 1

Carson McDowell has strengthened its insurer client base following its merger with niche defence firm Francis J Irvine; it also acts for a range of large employers, public bodies, healthcare professionals and medical defence organisations. 'The market leader in Belfast in clinical negligence', the team also has extensive experience in industrial disease, marine personal injury and fatal accident claims. Roger McMillan heads the healthcare team, while Jacqueline McAleese leads the clinical negligence claims team. Claire Harmer, who heads the defence litigation department, is noted for her inquest expertise.

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 1

Carson McDowell's 'highly efficient, compassionate and highly motivated team' has particular strength in advising on high-value, complex estate planning and administration, and also handles contentious probate matters. In addition to high-net-worth individuals, the team acts for the trustees of several high-value trusts and regularly advises clients with assets in the Republic of Ireland and further abroad. Practice head Neil Bleakley and associate Fiona Kirkpatrick, who has expertise in trust administrations, are 'leaders in their field'.

Planning and environment Tier 1

Carson McDowell advises on a range of high-profile planning and environment matters, including planning applications for large developments, judicial reviews of planning decisions, and public inquiries. The team is highly active advising major Northern Irish companies in relation to projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors, as well as residential and commercial developments. Gary McGhee leads an experienced team, which includes Grant McBurney and associate Sarah Dunlop. The practice was strengthened by the arrival of associate Kate McCusker from Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

The team at Carson McDowell stands out for 'the breadth of experience, the commitment of individual lawyers and the expertise across sectors'. It advises major banks, insolvency practitioners and corporates on contentious and non-contentious matters, and has experience handling cross-jurisdictional insolvencies and personal insolvencies. 'Strong insolvency practitionerDarren Toombs leads the team jointly with the 'technically very strongSinead McGrath. The team was bolstered by the appointment of two new associates.

Project finance and PFI Tier 2

Carson McDowell regularly acts for funders on significant projects in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK, as well as in the Republic of Ireland. The team has been active in the energy sector, and has also advised on a range of infrastructure, education and healthcare sector transactions. Practice head Gerard Armstrong is noted for his expertise in large-scale infrastructure and PFI/PPP projects, while Neasa Quigley specialises in energy.

The firm: Carson McDowell LLP is Northern Ireland’s largest commercial law firm with 27 partners and over 150 staff. The firm is one of the few genuinely full-service commercial legal practices in Northern Ireland, and has a considerable reputation built upon its experience and expertise across corporate, banking, mergers and acquisitions, commercial litigation, real estate, energy, renewables, regulation, planning, environment, employment, projects and procurement. The firm continues to be the favoured Northern Ireland counsel to a number of leading law firms in the City of London and internationally. It also has a strategic relationship with Dublin-based law firm, Mason Hayes & Curran, ensuring it can offer an all-island legal solution when required and is uniquely placed to advise on cross-border matters.

Types of work undertaken: Banking and finance: the firm has one of the leading specialist banking and finance teams in NI. The team has built sound relationships with financial institutions locally and across the UK and is regularly instructed by leading London law practices. It has extensive experience in project and asset finance, secured, unsecured, senior, mezzanine and subordinated lending, funds, derivatives and insurance.

Construction: Carson McDowell advises a significant number of the larger Northern Ireland contractors both locally and in relation to their projects throughout the UK and has a long history of providing specialised construction law advice to clients, offering expert advice to contractors, developers, design teams and funders.

Corporate: the firm’s experience and reputation speaks volumes and it is widely recognised as one of the leading corporate and M&A legal practices in NI. The partner-led team has over 100 years combined experience, delivering a results-driven, problem-solving approach.

Dispute resolution: this team is distinguished by the number of specialist areas covered and has unrivalled experience in insurance, product liability, personal injury, defamation, planning, environmental and intellectual property. The firm handles commercial litigation work such as contractual claims, employment disputes, contentious corporate insolvency and recovery actions. The firm has considerable judicial review and public law expertise.

Employment: this dedicated employment team is one of the busiest in Northern Ireland, acting on both contentious and non-contentious matters. It has vast experience acting for respondent companies in the industrial and fair employment tribunals as well as in the civil court system. The firm is a leading adviser on TUPE, senior executive departures, complex disciplinary and grievance issues and drafting and advising on employment contracts and policies.

Energy: this leading multi-disciplinary team advises on, among other things, project development, finance issues, power purchase agreements, renewables, energy trading and dispute resolution. The team also provides advice on energy regulation, procurement, EU and competition law, environmental law and planning law.

Intellectual property: the intellectual property team advises on both contentious and non-contentious matters and team members have significant expertise across a number of sectors

Planning and environmental: this is the largest dedicated planning and environmental teams in Northern Ireland. The firm acts on behalf of a diverse range of clients and is involved in most of the leading planning and environmental judicial reviews currently taking place in NI. Clients are drawn from every sector including: retail, transport, energy, renewables, manufacturing, mining and quarrying.

Private client: the firm is one of only a small number in NI having a specialist and dedicated private client team. The team advises across a broad range of private client issues, but has particular experience in high-value, complex estate administration and estate planning matters.

Procurement and competition: Carson McDowell is a leading NI procurement law firm, with a team of five lawyers working across both contentious and non-contentious procurement issues. The team has a wealth of experience advising both public and private sector clients on procurement law, competition and merger control issues.

Professional negligence: the firm has the largest number of lawyers working in this area in NI and has become a major defence firm in the area of medical negligence, acting for indemnifiers in this field. The firm also acts on behalf of solicitors, architects, engineers and other non-medical professionals.

Project finance and PFI: this team is highly regarded by peers and clients alike, continuing to advise clients involved in PPP, NPD and large-scale infrastructure projects throughout the UK and Ireland.

Real estate: this team, incorporating specialist licensing and property litigation sub-teams, is the largest in NI. Core strengths include site assembly and development, investment acquisitions and disposals, and it has an unrivalled stable of retail clients.

Department Name Email Telephone
Michael Johnston
Banking and finance Sinead McGrath
Banking and finance Richard Gray
Commercial Dawn McKnight
Commercial Gerard Armstrong
Commercial Richard Gray
Construction Stuart Murphy
Construction Declan Magee
Senior Partner Neasa Quigley
Corporate Richard Gray
Corporate Gerard Armstrong
Dispute resolution Declan Magee
Dispute resolution Roger McMillan
Dispute resolution Leigh Linton
Dispute resolution Darren Toombs
Dispute resolution Hugh McGrattan
Dispute resolution Claire Harmer
Dispute resolution Jacqueline McAleese
Dispute resolution Peter Guzhar
Dispute resolution Olivia O'Kane
Employment Orlagh O'Neill
Employment Rachel Penny
Energy Neasa Quigley
Energy Dawson McConkey
Intellectual Property Dawn McKnight
Intellectual Property Peter Guzhar
Intellectual Property Declan Magee
Planning and environmental Gary McGhee
Planning and environmental Dawson McConkey
Planning and environmental Grant McBurney
Private client Neil Bleakley
Procurement and competition Kerry Teahan
Procurement and competition Declan Magee
Professional negligence Roger McMillan
Professional negligence Hugh McGrattan
Professional negligence Declan Magee
Project finance and PFI Gerard Armstrong
Project finance and PFI Michael Johnston
Real estate Rosemary Carson
Real estate Emma Cooper
Real estate Dawson McConkey
Real estate Cathy Colton
Real estate Mary-Kim Doherty
Photo Name Position Profile
 Gerard Armstrong  photo Gerard Armstrong
 Clare Bates  photo Clare Bates
 Ashleigh Birkett  photo Ashleigh Birkett
 Neil Bleakley  photo Neil Bleakley
 Deborah Boyd  photo Deborah Boyd
 Olivia Carroll  photo Olivia Carroll
 Rosemary Carson  photo Rosemary Carson
 Catherine Carton  photo Catherine Carton
 Sarah Cochrane  photo Sarah Cochrane
 Timothy Cockram  photo Timothy Cockram
 Emma Cooper  photo Emma Cooper
 Mary-Kim Doherty  photo Mary-Kim Doherty
 Sarah Dunlop photo Sarah Dunlop
 Richard Gray  photo Richard Gray
 Peter Guzhar  photo Peter Guzhar
 Niall Hargan  photo Niall Hargan
 Claire Harmer  photo Claire Harmer
 Michael Johnston  photo Michael Johnston
 Fiona Kirkpatrick  photo Fiona Kirkpatrick
 Leigh Linton  photo Leigh Linton
 Francesca Lowry  photo Francesca Lowry
 Declan Magee  photo Declan Magee
 Rachael McAdorey  photo Rachael McAdorey
 Jacqueline McAleese  photo Jacqueline McAleese
 Shauna McAuley  photo Shauna McAuley
Mr Grant McBurney  photo Mr Grant McBurney
 Dawson McConkey  photo Dawson McConkey
 Gary McGhee  photo Gary McGhee
 Sinead McGrath  photo Sinead McGrath
 Hugh McGrattan  photo Hugh McGrattan
 Dawn McKnight  photo Dawn McKnight
 Roger McMillan  photo Roger McMillan
 Laura Menary  photo Laura Menary
 Stuart Murphy  photo Stuart Murphy
 Stuart Nelson  photo Stuart Nelson
 Orlagh O’Neill  photo Orlagh O’Neill
 Victoria O’Hara  photo Victoria O’Hara
 Olivia O’Kane  photo Olivia O’Kane
 Rachel Penny  photo Rachel Penny
 Neasa Quigley  photo Neasa Quigley
 Niall Skelton  photo Niall Skelton
 Darren Toombs  photo Darren Toombs
Number of UK partners : 26
Number of other UK fee-earners : 74