Firm Profile > Cleaver Fulton Rankin > Belfast, Northern Ireland

Cleaver Fulton Rankin
50 BEDFORD STREET
BELFAST
BT2 7FW
Northern Ireland

Banking and finance Tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin's department has recently undergone notable change; former practice head Deborah Archer departed for MKB Law and was replaced at the helm by Caroline MacLaughlin, who joined from Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP. MacLaughlin has broad expertise in banking and finance with a key emphasis on real estate financing issues. Stephen Cross continues to be an integral part of the team and is notably strong in project finance work.

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Testimonials

‘Very straight forward to deal with and they understand our business and how we operate. Friendly and courteous. Get the job done and are well respected in the legal world.’

Key clients

Danske Bank

HSBC Bank

Ulster Bank Limited

Bank of Ireland

First Trust Bank

JMW Farms

Virgin Money plc

Close Brothers Asset Finance

European Investment Bank

Nationwide Building Society

Scotia Bank

Macquaries Investment Bank

Rabobank

Charity Bank

Commercial property Tier 1

'An excellent firm with an impeccable tradition', Cleaver Fulton Rankin has 'one of the longest-established dedicated commercial real estate teams in Belfast'. The team's standout strength is in the retail sector, where it acts for retailers and owners of retail outlets on major transactions and agreements. Joe Marley leads the team and works alongside Kathryn Collie and Alan McAlister.

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Testimonials

‘We have used Cleaver Fulton Rankin for many years. They are an excellent firm with an impeccable tradition. Their team is one of the longest-established dedicated commercial real estate teams in Belfast and in our view, the best in Northern Ireland. ‘

‘We couldn’t recommend them highly enough. Their team boasts a number of exceptional real estate lawyers. Their standards are outstanding. They take the time to understand our business. Their attention to detail is excellent. We are always very encouraged to have them on our side which gives us great peace of mind.’

‘Joe Marley has an excellent legal knowledge and always acts in our best interests. He is a very hard worker and always makes himself available. He has led on a number of very significant property transactions in the past couple of years. He is a strong negotiator, but respectful of his peers.’

‘Alan McAlister has many years’ experience acting in real estate transactions. He has wide-ranging legal knowledge, both in real estate transactional work and real estate litigation. He is a smart guy and he is very easy to deal with.’

‘The team are accessible and offer considered advice which assists us to make commercial decisions, rather than seeking to push all decision making assessment back to us .’

‘Joe Marley has a good local knowledge of the areas we cover and is able to offer advice accordingly tailored to our sector.’

‘Professional service delivered in an relaxed but businesslike manner.’

‘Kathryn Collie undertakes our transaction work in Northern Ireland. Kathryn is responsive and commercial and gets the job done in a timely manner.’

Key clients

T. J. Morris Limited

Hammerson plc

Vodafone Limited

InfraStrata plc

Northern Ireland Science Park Property Limited

Invest Northern Ireland

INTU Properties

Primark Stores Limited

Dalradian Gold Limited

BT plc

Construction Tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin runs the gamut of contentious and non-contentious construction work, but is particularly known for representing public bodies including regional colleges and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Patrick Fleming is described as'the best construction lawyer in NI' whose 'knowledge of construction contracts is unsurpassed'. Lisa Boyd adds another dimension to the practice with her joint expertise in both construction and procurement matters. Aaron Moore is particularly strong in professional negligence disputes, most notably in dilapidation claims.

Testimonials

‘The quality and speed of the professional advice is second to none.’

‘Always available to answer and provide advice to the client promptly.’

‘Steady, assured approach. Good perspectives on legal arguments. Solid and dependable. Excellent organisation and management of activities. You will not find another real estate practice in NI which has the same wealth of experience and knowledge.’

‘Patrick Fleming is simply the best construction lawyer in NI. His knowledge of construction contracts is unsurpassed. When you’re a client in a busy organisation you want to be able to send your lawyer a complex instruction and ask them to provide clarify and address all areas of risk.’

Key clients

Northern Regional Colleges

North West Regional College

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

BAM FP McCann

Belfast Central Mission

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

BDO

Dispute resolution Tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin excels in real estate and construction disputes, fielding a team of strong litigators, adjudicators and mediators. Practice head Patrick Fleming focuses on construction and procurement disputes, counting the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as a key client. Managing director Jonathan Forrester is also adept at construction litigation, and has carved an additional niche in representing charities and social enterprises, often working alongside fellow construction disputes specialist Lisa Boyd. Also highly recommended is insolvency expert Jeanette Donohoe who has represented financial institutions including HSBC, Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank.

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Key clients

BAM McCann JV

Victoria Housing Estates Limited

Linfield Football Club

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

North West Regional College

DB UK Bank Limited

HSBC Bank plc

Ulster Bank Limited

Bank of Ireland

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 1

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is a key name in Northern Ireland for the management of major trusts, working with well-known clients such as Cancer Research UK and the Alzheimer's Society, which are attracted by its personable approach. For example, practice head Michael Graham 'brings a cheerful and inclusive demeanour to client meetings' where he 'ensures clients understand the details as much as possible'. Likewise, Timothy Rankin, who focuses on trust administration 'passes his knowledge to clients clearly and concisely'. Another important member of the team is Jonathan Forrester, who handles trust and probate litigation for a number of the firm's charity clients.

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Testimonials

‘Highly professional and knowledgeable private client team who are able to deal with all estate planning, wills, tax and probate work in an efficient and professional manner.’

‘Michael Graham leads the team and brings a cheerful and inclusive demeanour to client meetings where he ensures clients understand the details as much as possible. The execution of his work is second to none.’

‘Timothy Rankin’s skills are notable as he is clear and professional and passes his knowledge to clients clearly and concisely.’

‘Paula Gibson is excellent is many areas and particularly in dealing with vulnerable clients as well as Court of Care and Protection.’

Key clients

Alzheimer’s Society

Bryson Charitable Group

Danske Bank

Cancer Research UK

The Esmé Mitchell Trust

The Blackburn Trust

Cancer Focus

Age NI

Corporate and M&A Tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin's practice is led by Hilary Griffith, who has 'considerable corporate and M&A experience within Northern Ireland and beyond'  and is 'clear-thinking', 'practical' and 'capable of tailoring advice to an individual situation and explaining clearly.' As well as M&A, Griffith is also experienced in  management buy-outs, fund raisings and private equity investments, with a particular focus on the life sciences, higher education and technology sectors. Kathryn Laverty, who has 'good communication skills' and 'a can-do approach' was recently promoted to senior associate.

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Testimonials

‘Cleaver Fulton Rankin have been resourced with an experienced and respected leader in Hilary Griffith. She has considerable Corporate & M&A experience within Northern Ireland and beyond, and it shows. We had previously worked with her, and have found that Cleavers is the team that best fits us, balancing expertise with value for money and a helpful approach.’

‘We have found the communication skills, level heads and pragmatic approach to be particularly to our liking.’

‘Hilary Griffith who leads our account has a pragmatic, business-focused approach. She is clear-thinking and practical, and capable of tailoring advice to an individual situation, and explaining clearly.’

‘Kathryn Laverty, an Associate, reflects Hilary’s approach with a similar skillset. She has good communication skills and a can-do approach.’

Key clients

Microsoft

ESO Solutions Limited

Arena Capital Partners Ltd

Made to Engage Limited

Millicent Pharma

Ulster Carpet Mills

Lakeland Dairies

Catalyst Inc

JMW Farms

Dickson and Co

Bellamoon Limited

Phion Therapeutics

Momentum Group

Gray’s Clip Limited

3EN Cloud Limited

Truestock

Photonic Measurements Limited

Employment Tier 2

With particular strength in advising public sector bodies and non-profit organisations, Cleaver Fulton Rankin has a full-service employment law practice with a notable focus on immigration issues and discrimination claims. Michael Black leads the team and has acted for clients in the Fair Employment and Industrial tribunals, particularly in equality and discrimination litigation.  Director Aisling Byrne is another key name, who regularly advises on issues relating to the island of Ireland.

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Testimonials

‘Excellent customer service provided along with extensive knowledge of relevant employment legislation.’

‘Michael Black gave me his contact details and on a number of occasions it was necessary to contact Michael outside of working hours e.g. evenings, weekends. The advice, knowledge and assistance provided by Michael Black regarding a extremely difficult employment issue was exceptional.’

‘Michael and his team including Aisling Byrne responded to all queries and issues raised in a knowledgeable, timely and efficient manner.’

‘The legal advice given was clear and unambiguous. This was very helpful to me as Board Chair providing progress reports and seeking approval for various issues from the other Board members. Michael provided Disciplinary Panel awareness training to Board members which was very much appreciated.’

Key clients

Belfast City Council

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

Regen Waste Ltd

Vox Financial Partners

Invest Northern Ireland

InfraStrata plc

Legrande AV Netherlands B.V.

OHRD Limited

Qualitest

Smashfly Limited

Energy, project finance and PFI Tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin advises on major projects in the region, encompassing mining, gas networks and wind and solar farms. Stephen Cross helms the team and advises both energy companies and financial sponsors on renewable energy projects in the region. The team also draws on the corporate expertise of Hilary Griffith and real estate experience of Joe Marley, who are both active in this sector.

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Key clients

Equitix Investment Management

Axpo UK

Arena Capital Partners

EirGrid

Dalradian Gold

SONI Limited

Power NI

Canadian Solar

AIB

Northern Ireland Electricity Network

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is 'a young and vibrant firm with staff who are eager to deliver' and has assisted clients with resolving insolvencies through litigation, mediation and non-contentious means. Jeanette Donohoe heads up the practice and is particularly skilled in insolvencies involving property assets. Associate Maria McNally is 'very attentive both to clients and the detail required to get results.'

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Testimonials

‘CFR are a young and vibrant firm with staff who are eager to deliver for their clients.’

‘Maria McNally is very attentive both to clients and the detail required to get results.’

‘Adaptability, speed of response, knowledge and experience.’

Key clients

Lamprell Plc

Crawford Accountants

Bank of Ireland (UK) Plc

AIB Group (UK) Plc

Ulster Bank Limited

HSBC Bank Plc

McCambridge Duffy LLP

Danske Bank

Pepper Group (trading as Engage Commercial)

Begbies Traynor LLP

Intellectual property Tier 2

Cleaver Fulton Rankin assists a range of domestic clients with issues such as IP audits, agreements and disputes. Hilary Griffith leads the team and is an expert in IP issues relation to acquisitions and agreements, with a particular emphasis on the life sciences and technology sectors. Michael King is an expert in IP disputes, regularly resolving issues through litigation or mediation.

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Testimonials

‘They have a great commercial practice and are knowledgeable in the field of intellectual property.’

‘They are willing to work with other experts and professionals in order to provide the optimal service to their clients.’

‘Michael King is a savvy and knowledgeable solicitor. He is approachable and easy to deal with.’

‘Responsive, timely, effective, efficient, with a very wide range of legal expertise on many subjects.’

Key clients

Tourism NI

Invest NI

Bellamoon Limited

Phion Therapeutics Limited

Linen Hall Library

Photonic Measurements Limited

Gray’s Clip Limited

Millicent Pharma

Catalyst

Microsoft

ESO Solutions Limited

Smashfly

Advance Analytics Limited

3EN Cloud Limited

Truestock

Planning and environment Tier 2

The 'very professional and knowledgeable' team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin, which is noted for its expertise on judicial reviews, represents a range of major local names such as Belfast City Airport and Translink. Firm chairman Karen Blair has 'a cool and calm nature' and has advised on a wealth of major developments in the area, particularly in areas such as mining, aviation and tourism. Associate director Brendan Martyn is also a key name and advises Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on planning and public law matters.

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Testimonials

‘There is a wealth of knowledge under one roof.’

‘Karen Blair’s cool and calm nature soothes even the hardest of situations.’

‘Very professional and knowledgeable. Quick response times. Very diligent.’

Key clients

Dalradian Gold

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council

Choice Housing Ireland

Assured Energy

Belfast City Airport

C&V Developments

Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council

Bushmills Hotels Limited

Kellys Sand & Gravel Limited

Translink

C & V Developments

Don Holdings

Personal injury and clinical negligence: defendant Tier 3

Cleaver Fulton Rankin defends insurers, retailers and public bodies against personal injury claims. Michael King, who leads the team, has extensive experience of both personal injury and medical negligence claims. King is assisted by the 'very talented and hardworking' associate Rachael Gamble and associate Marc Kelly, who 'demonstrates a tactical awareness that belies his years'.

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Testimonials

‘This is a dynamic team which mixes a wealth of talent, intelligence and experience with a bunch of upcoming enthusiastic and determined lawyers.’

‘Michael King has a wealth of experience in a variety of fields and he brings that experience to personal injury and clinical negligence litigation. A highly intelligent and tactically adept individual who is more often than not one step ahead of the other side.’

‘Rachael Gamble is the most capable of associates who in a matter of time will grace the upper echelons of this field of practice. A very talented and hardworking lawyer who gets results for her clients. I think that we have gone beyond one to watch, as she is already here.’

‘Marc Kelly is an up-and-coming solicitor who is already demonstrating a tactical awareness that belies his years. One to watch.’

Key clients

RSA Insurance

AIG Insurance

AON Claims Management

Musgrave Retail Partners (NI) Limited

Equine and Livestock Insurance Company

Sainsburys

BMI Healthcare Limited

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is one of Northern Ireland’s leading corporate law firms, providing a full legal service to both commercial and private clients, including national and local private companies, developers, financial institutions, public institutions and quasi-public bodies, not for profit organisations and other government funded organisations.

The firm’s primary areas of work are described below and comprise of company and commercial, property, employment, dispute resolution, consultancy and private client, supplemented by niche units specialising in areas such as construction law, planning and environmental and insolvency. All departments within the firm work closely to ensure a client receives expert advice to achieve commercial objectives.

While  the firm is an independent Northern Ireland owned, and managed practice, it has an alliance with Matheson Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland to provide an all-island service; it is a member of LawNet, an association of independent UK law firms, and is a member of the International Lawyers Network. This network gives the firm’s lawyers access to commercial law firms in 66 countries across six continents.

Principal areas of work
Banking: the banking team has recognised expertise in acting on the full range of finance transactions,  corporate finance and project finance transactions, acquisition finance, commercial property finance transactions, asset backed lending, invoice discounting, factoring, restructuring and specific services relating to the securitisation of Northern Irish assets. We also advise on applicable regulation, compliance and best practice.

Company and commercial: the company and commercial team has a long-standing reputation for providing sound practical advice to clients in both the private and public sectors and across a wide range of industries on all types of commercial transactions, including intellectual property, construction, energy, IT, banking and charities law.

Employment: the employment team is widely acknowledged for its expertise both locally and nationally. It offers guidance to clients, many of whom are businesses and lawyers operating in other jurisdictions, on the differences in employment law that exist in Northern Ireland and practical advice on measures which should be taken in specific circumstances.

Dispute resolution: the dedicated dispute resolution team has an impressive clientele in a variety of practice areas, including general commercial litigation, construction, property, defamation, disputes about wills and trusts, corporate recovery, insurance, intellectual property and IT, personal injury, product liability, procurement and debt recovery.

Planning and environment: Cleaver Fulton Rankin is at the forefront of this specialised area of law, with a wealth of experience in providing practical legal advice throughout the planning application process, appeals and inquiries. The firm also provides environmental and planning due diligence for property transactions and company acquisitions.

Private client: the private client team is dedicated to providing high-quality specialist advice on inheritance tax and estate planning, including the use of lifetime and testamentary trusts where appropriate. In addition, the team regularly advises on the administration of trusts and estates, enduring powers of attorney, nursing care issues and matters involving the Office of Care and Protection. The team also includes a Residential Conveyancing team and a Family and Matrimonial team.

Property: the firm’s property team has extensive experience in all aspects of non-contentious commercial and residential property matters with a broad client portfolio, including developers, investment institutions, national retail chains, PPP projects and joint ventures. The team is well used to working seamlessly with other professionals to deliver on major projects for clients.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner Jonathan Forrester
Company/commercial Hilary Griffith
Property Kathryn Collie
Property Alan McAlister
Property Joe Marley
Dispute resolution Patrick Fleming
Dispute resolution Jonathan Forrester
Dispute resolution Aaron Moore
Private client Michael Graham
Employment Michael Black
Environment and planning Karen Blair
Public law Karen Blair
Banking Stephen Cross
Construction Patrick Fleming
Construction Aaron Moore
Construction Lisa Boyd
Licensing Karen Blair
Projects Patrick Fleming
Projects Lisa Boyd
IP and Technology Michael King
Insolvency Jeanette Donohoe
Procurement Patrick Fleming
Procurement Lisa Boyd
Debt recovery Jonathan Forrester
Debt recovery Patrick Fleming
Debt recovery Aaron Moore
Energy Joe Marley
Energy Stephen Cross
Energy Karen Blair
Family Lorraine Keown
Energy Hilary Griffith
Charities and Social Enterprises Stephen Cross
Banking Caroline MacLaughlin
Employment Aisling Byrne
Dispute Resolution Michael King
Photo Name Position Profile
 Michael Black  photo Michael Black Michael is the head of the employment law team and has been…
 Karen Blair  photo Karen Blair Karen is Chairman and Director at Cleaver Fulton Rankin and specialises in…
 Lisa Boyd  photo Lisa Boyd Lisa is a partner/director in the litigation department of Cleaver Fulton Rankin…
 Aisling Byrne  photo Aisling Byrne Associate Director
 Kathryn Collie  photo Kathryn Collie Kathryn is a partner/director in Cleaver Fulton Rankin and specialises in real…
 Stephen Cross  photo Stephen Cross Stephen is head of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s corporate finance and banking department.…
 Jeanette Donohoe  photo Jeanette Donohoe Jeanette is a partner/director in the dispute resolution department and heads up the insolvency…
 Patrick Fleming  photo Patrick Fleming Patrick is a director and head of the commercial litigation department. He…
 Jonathan Forrester  photo Jonathan Forrester Jonathan is the Managing Director of Cleaver Fulton Rankin specialising in real…
 Michael Graham  photo Michael Graham Michael is the head of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s Private Client Department which…
 Hilary Griffith  photo Hilary Griffith Hilary is Head of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s corporate team. Hilary has extensive…
 Michael King  photo Michael King Michael King is a commercial litigator with particular expertise in intellectual property…
 Caroline MacLaughlin  photo Caroline MacLaughlin Caroline is head of the Banking and Finance team at Cleaver Fulton…
 Joe Marley  photo Joe Marley Joe is a Director and Head of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s commercial property…
 Alan McAlister  photo Alan McAlister Alan is a partner/director working in the firm’s commercial property department. He…
 Aaron Moore  photo Aaron Moore Aaron is a Partner/Director in Cleaver Fulton Rankin and specializes in Construction,…
 Timothy Rankin photo Timothy Rankin Tim is Director in the Private Client department. He specialises in the…
Number of UK partners : 18
Number of other UK fee-earners : 25
Number of Paralegals and Trainees : 10