The Legal 500

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50 BEDFORD STREET, BELFAST, BT2 7FW, NORTHERN IRELAND
Tel:
Work 028 9024 3141
Fax:
Fax 028 9024 9096
DX:
421 NR BELFAST
Email:
Web:
http://www.cfrlaw.co.uk

Northern Ireland

Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin ’s ‘excellent’ litigation team is ‘responsive, flexible, accommodating, enthusiastic, hardworking and possesses a strong commercial sense’. Practice head Patrick Fleming (‘shrewd and approachable’) is leading advice to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in an ongoing dispute brought by a contractor concerning an asbestos surveying services contract. In another mandate, Aaron Moore , who is well known for his expertise in property matters, represented the Charles Shiels Charity in a claim against the project architect and building contractor responsible for the design, contract management, redevelopment and refurbishment of 18 charitable houses in Northern Ireland. Fergal Maguire (‘his communication skills are exceptional and his advice is meticulous, clear and easy to follow’) is acting for Victoria Housing Estates in a dispute with three former directors concerning alleged misappropriation of funds worth £20m; this matter is complex as some of the funds were allegedly diverted to a number of associated companies set up by one of the directors and as the client is now registered as a charity, the diverting of assets could be considered actionable. Managing director Jonathan Forrester (‘driven and pragmatic’)  advises on high-value construction disputes, and Michael King has expertise in intellectual property disputes.

Next generation lawyers

Fergal Maguire - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and M&A
Corporate and M&A - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

The corporate team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin  continued to assist clients from the technology, energy, pharmaceuticals and real estate sectors, and saw an increase in instructions from the agri-food and manufacturing sectors. Recent highlights include advising pork production company JMW Farms on the acquisition of the business and assets of Woodlark Farming and assisting LE Pritchitt & Co, a member of the Lakeland Dairies Group, with three contracts to install two production lines in a cross-border matter involving Germany, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The group also represented not-for-profit company Catalyst in a successful proposal for a new innovation centre to be constructed in Ballymena. Practice head Hilary Griffith has a ‘good personal style but can be tough when required’. In June 2017 Scott Kennedy moved to Millar McCall Wylie LLP .

Leading individuals

Hilary Griffith - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: Finance

Banking and finance
Banking and finance - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

According to some, Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s practice is ‘fully au fait with all aspects of banking and finance’. The group acts for a predominantly lender client base, including Danske Bank, Nationwide, Santander, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, and its expertise includes acquisition finance, corporate finance and project financings, among other areas. Project finance expert and practice head Stephen Cross has ‘a huge level of knowledge and experience in the sector and is generally unflappable’; he acted as Northern Ireland counsel to energy company Wirsol regarding a £88m loan from Bayerische Landesbank to finance the development of 19 solar sites across England and Northern Ireland. In another highlight, Cross and Deborah Archer assisted the Titanic Quarter Group with a £75m refinancing package to continue the regeneration of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. In 2017, Christopher Neill moved to Millar McCall Wylie LLP .

Leading individuals

Stephen Cross - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Next generation lawyers

Deborah Archer - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Insolvency and corporate recovery
Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin has a solid track record advising administrators, company directors and banks on a broad range of insolvency proceedings, including the appointment of fixed charge receivers, administrations, and voluntary and involuntary bankruptcies. In a key mandate, ‘direct and to-the-point’ practice head Jeanette Donohoe led advice to Engage Commercial, which was handling the recovery of several multimillion-pound loans after it acquired a loan portfolio from AIB Bank, on issuing an administration application to a defaulting borrower who was challenging the validity of the entire loan sale. Other key clients include Ernst & Young, which the firm is advising on its appointment as administrator of Cloghogue Enterprises, former owner of a business park in Newry. Ulster Bank, HSBC Bank and Keenan Corporate Finance are also included in the firm’s client base. Caitriona Morgan, who was recently promoted to associate director, is ‘exceptionally knowledgeable on all corporate and personal insolvency matters, as well as being very well organised, and is an excellent ally in a litigation battle’.

Leading individuals

Jeanette Donohoe - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Next generation lawyers

Caitriona Morgan - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: Human resources

Employment
Employment - ranked: tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s ‘excellent’ practice attracts praise for its ‘expert knowledge of the area’. The client base includes private and public sector entities such as leading supermarket chains, educational bodies, county councils and third-sector entities. Recent work for the team includes advising on structuring issues, discrimination claims and disciplinary proceedings. Clients include the Co-Op Group, National Museums of Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast, and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment. The ‘very thoroughMichael Black leads the team, which includes the ‘excellentAisling Byrne, who was promoted to associate director in 2017; both attract praise for their ‘practicality, sound knowledge, confidence and levelheadedness’.

Next generation lawyers

Aisling Byrne - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: Insurance

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant
Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant - ranked: tier 3

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin has a ‘very well run, professional and dedicated’ defendant insurance practice with a solid track record in handling employers’ and public liability disputes. The group is well known for representing a range of insurers in catastrophic injury cases resulting from accidents at work and motor accidents. Highlights included the firm defending the Irish Cycling Federation in a claim arising from an accident in a road cycling race where a competitor was knocked off their bicycle when a horse jumped from a field next to the track. RSA Insurance and AIG Insurance are key clients for the firm. Michael King leads the team. William Cross retired in 2017. 

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Northern Ireland: Private client

Personal tax, trusts and probate
Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s ‘extremely efficient and knowledgeable’ private client team has expertise across a wide range of matters, including disputes in relation to wills and estates, related tax matters, estate planning, controllership issues and the administration of high-value trusts. The group frequently represents high-net-worth clients in multimillion-pound matters and advises charity clients on estate administration issues. Recent work includes disputes over the validity of wills, the protection of assets for vulnerable recipients and providing cross-border tax advice to high-net-worth clients with assets kept in different jurisdictions. Michael Graham leads the team, which includes managing director Jonathan Forrester, who is highly recommended for his contentious probate and trusts litigation expertise. William Cross retired in October 2017.

Leading individuals

Michael Graham - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: Projects, energy and natural resources

Energy
Energy - ranked: tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s energy practice attracts praise for its ‘comprehensive and focused’ advice and ‘excellent and efficient service’. The group assists a client base of banks, investment funds, regulatory bodies and renewable energy developers with financings, acquisitions and regulatory matters involving wind, solar and electricity projects. Practice head Stephen Cross, who is ‘excellent and pragmatic’, led the advice to BlackRock Real Assets, as shareholder in solar energy company Lightsource Renewable Energy, regarding the construction of a 50MW Northern Irish solar farm project by the latter. Other clients include Wirsol, First Trust Bank, Gaelectric and BlackBee Investments. Karen Blair and Joe Marley are the key names for planning and property-related mandates.

Leading individuals

Stephen Cross - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: Real estate

Commercial property
Commercial property - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s property practice has ‘good strength in depth’ and provides ‘a professional service’. The group continues to act for investment funds, developers, and retail owners in high-value acquisitions, lease matters and refinancing issues. In a standout mandate in 2017, practice head Joe Marley , who garners praise for his ‘sound commercial acumen’, advised Hewlett Packard on renewing a multimillion-pound lease for premises based in Newtownabbey; this location was strategically important as it was used to host back-up systems for blue chip clients. The matter was heard before the Lands Tribunal due to a dispute with the landlord of the premises, before an agreement favourable to the client was reached. The ‘knowledgeableKathryn Collie is ‘very experienced and looks at the bigger picture’. The ‘thorough and commercially mindedAlan McAlister is noted for his experience in city centre development matters. Associate Nemonie Fulton attracts praise for her 'extensive conveyancing knowledge'.

Leading individuals

Joe Marley - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Kathryn Collie - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Construction
Construction - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s corporate practice houses a ‘very capable team with sound commercial acumen, expert knowledge and an ability to offer clear advice’, according to clients. It is very well known for handling contentious construction matters and has seen an uptick in non-contentious instructions. Prominent areas of activity for the group in 2017 included infrastructure, housing, education, and leisure projects. In a recent highlight, the firm advised the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on a £3.5bn contract relating to a planned maintenance scheme for 89,000 properties. Practice head Patrick Fleming is praised for being ‘client friendly’ and ‘very hard-working’. Lisa Boyd  is recommended for her ‘real depth of knowledge in procurement and construction cases’; construction litigator Aaron Moore is ‘very sharp and focused’. Associate Julie-Ann McCaffrey-Flynn  is ‘always proactive’, ‘tries her hardest for her clients’, and is singled out for her ‘impressive ability to identify and focus on key issues’.

Leading individuals

Lisa Boyd - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Patrick Fleming - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Next generation lawyers

Julie-Ann McCaffrey-Flynn - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Planning and environment
Planning and environment - ranked: tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s ‘excellent’ team has a ‘sound knowledge of the issues’ when assisting clients from the energy, real estate, minerals and infrastructure sectors - among others - with planning applications and judicial reviews. Recent instructions for the group include assisting Gaelectric with its ongoing proposed compressed air energy storage project, which involves the construction of underground caverns capable of maintaining compressed air. Key clients for the firm include Belfast City Airport, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, AES Electric, and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. The ‘very responsiveKaren Blair heads the practice.

Leading individuals

Karen Blair - Cleaver Fulton Rankin

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Northern Ireland: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Intellectual property
Intellectual property - ranked: tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Recent work for Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s IP practice includes advising tech start-up companies on licensing and due diligence pertaining to investments, as well as assisting with contentious IP instructions. Highlights included assisting CIGA Healthcare with IPR aspects pertaining to the follow-on investment received from equity fund Co-Fund NI for expanding its diagnostic technology into foreign markets, and acting for Linen Hall Library on copyright and licensing matters following the digitalisation of its 'Divided Society' project. Corporate partner Hilary Griffith heads the team, which also includes senior solicitor Kathryn Laverty; Michael King leads on the contentious matters. Scott Kennedy moved to Millar McCall Wylie LLP  in June 2017.

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Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Gulbenkian Andonain discuss NEW Tier 1 Start-Up Visa and the NEW Tier 1 Innovator Visa

    The document entitled "Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules" which was released by the House of Commons on the 7th March 2019, outlined and advised us on a number of changes that will come into place that will affect the Tier 1 Investor Visa amongst other visa programmes and schemes. The latest article on our website discusses both of these new UK business visa routes. Our immigration lawyers London are already up to date on all of the required information for both the NEW Tier 1 Start-Up Visa and the NEW Tier 1 Innovator Visa .
  • Upcoming Changes to the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa

    According to the new document from the House of Commons on March 7th 2019 titled “Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules”, a number of changes will come into place that affecting the Tier 1 UK Investor Visa programme amongst other visa programmes and schemes. Read about them in our latest  article . 
  • Brexit and non-EU Immigration

    There is no doubt that the UK has to date benefited immensely from visa-free EU immigration to the extent that visa conditions and caps on non-EU migrant have undermined and overshadowed the ability of this group to play a prominent role in British industry and commerce and in its expanding and overburdened NHS service. It is the view of  Gulbenkian Andonian  however, that after  Brexit, there should be a noticeable change in those skilled non-EU migrants contributing to British society in a meaningful way. 
  • Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors discuss Post Brexit scenarios - EU Nationals and Salient Immigration

    From 1 January 2021 everyone except for British and Irish citizens will be subject to immigration control in the UK.   Gulbenkian Andonian solicitors has already published an article on this topic of post- Brexit immigration and has discussed the case of EU nationals and family members after Brexit, you can find that article here as one of many in our blog .
  • DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENTS: THE BEST OPTION? OR A FLAWED IDEA?

    Tescoadmitted wrongdoing over its accounting scandal in order to obtain a deferredprosecution agreement and avoid a conviction. But with everyone charged overthe scandal having been cleared, Aziz Rahman examines whether the deferredprosecution agreement process needs revising.
  • DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENTS: OBTAINING ONE AND SEEING IT THROUGH TO COMPLETION

    With Standard Bank having become the first organisation to conclude a DPA, Aziz Rahman explains why gaining one is only the start of the challenge.
  • DISMISSAL AT NISSAN AND WORKPLACE CRIME PREVENTION

    The sacking of Nissan’s high-profile chairman may have beenproof that nobody is infallible. But Nicola Sharp argues that it should also beseen as an indicator that no company can be considered safe from wrongdoing.
  • Applying for A Sole Representative Visa

    Regardless of the Brexit outcome, the United Kingdom will remain one of the world most powerful economies. With a market of 65 million people and close ties with Europe, many overseas-based organisations look to establishing a subsidiary or branch office in Britain.
  • BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS IN MORE THAN ONE JURISDICTION: THE IMPORTANCE OF ENSURING A JOINED-UP DEFENCE AP

    Aziz Rahman considers the Ericsson bribery investigation and outlines how best to respond if you are investigated by more than one law enforcement agency
  • Have Changes to The Spouse/Civil Partnership Minimum Income Threshold Made A Difference?

    The plight of those denied a UK Spouse/CivilPartnership Visa or a Spouse/Civil Partnership Visa extension continues to feature in the headlines.   In August 2018, the Guardian reported on one young woman, driven to attempt suicide after her fiancé, an Albanian national, was not permitted to enter the country.   The Home Office ruled Paige Smith, a British Citizen, did not meet the £18,600 income threshold.   It later transpired the Home Office lost a crucial payslip proving that Ms Smith met the criteria, a document the department had been sent four times by a Solicitor and Ms Smith’s MP.   The appeal Judge took ten minutes to rule the Visa should have been approved; however, the couple still had to wait two months for the Home Office to declare it would not appeal the decision.