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Tughans - Belfast
  • Marlborough House
  • 30 Victoria Street
  • Belfast
  • County Antrim
  • UK
  • BT1 3GG
  • Senior Partner Phyllis Agnew
  • Managing Partner Ian Coulter
  • Partners 22
  • Directors 12
  • Solicitors and associates 29
  • Other fee-earners 12

The Firm Tughans is one of Northern Ireland’s longest established and most respected commercial law firms, recognised as being eminent across all commercial practice areas. Specialist partner-led teams are at the core of its business, offering bespoke client-focused solutions. The firm places the same emphasis on commercial intelligence as legal expertise, which is why it is trusted advisor to many of Northern Ireland’s leading organisations and international companies investing in the region. Clients value how the firm works with them not just as legal counsel but as business partners, resulting in its strong reputation for providing pragmatic, commercially realistic guidance. To ensure its clients’ needs are met on an all Ireland basis the firm works directly with leading Dublin law firm William Fry, while internationally it has strong ties with firms across Europe, the USA and Asia to ensure a seamless multi-jurisdictional service.

Banking & Finance:
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: 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, dispute resolution and mediation.

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 is made up of three specialist units: commercial; insurance; and clinical negligence and professional regulatory work. All of the solicitors have expertise in methods of alternative dispute resolution including arbitration, adjudication, mediation and expert determination. The team acts for a wide range of professionals in professional indemnity cases.

The team acts for many of Northern Ireland’s employers advising on the full range of employment matters, both contentious and non-contentious, including pensions. The team also provides employment advice on mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing and TUPE.

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, mergers and acquisitions, equity investment, regulatory, asset management and contentious issues.

Environment & Planning:
The team advises on a range of environment and planning issues relating to real estate, mergers and acquisitions, 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 & 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.

The team acts for insurance companies providing the full range of advice and representation to include a market-leading claims handling service, policy coverage advice, professional indemnity and health and safety.

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 intellectual property 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.

The firm continues to play a major part in the largest projects in Northern Ireland, principally in the healthcare, IT and infrastructure sectors.

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.

Real Estate:
The department, home to 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 matters and in all aspects of landlord and tenant law. The department continues to reinforce its outstanding reputation by providing strong technical expertise, practical advice and a reliable delivery of service at all levels.

  • Banking & Finance Fearghal O’Loan
  • Commercial Litigation Michael McCord, Patrick Brown, Toby McMurray
  • Corporate John-George Willis, Ian Coulter, James Donnelly
  • Construction Michael McCord
  • Employment Anna Beggan
  • Energy Andrew Ryan, John-George Willis
  • Environment & Planning Andrew Ryan
  • Insolvency & Restructuring Toby McMurray
  • Insurance Kathy McGillie
  • Intellectual Property Adrian O’Connell
  • PFI/PPP/Projects John-George Willis
  • Procurement Patrick Brown
  • Professional Discipline Andrew Anthony
  • Real Estate Phyllis Agnew, John Mills


  • Marlborough House,
  • 30 Victoria Street,
  • Belfast,
  • County Antrim
  • UK
  • BT1 3GG
  • Tel (028) 9055 3300
  • Fax (028) 9055 0096
  • DX 433NR Belfast 1
  • Email : law@tughans.com
  • Website : www.tughans.com

Banking & Finance - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
-2 partners
-10 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Predominantly acts on the lender side and frequently advises on a range of intricate corporate and property restructuring and securitisation transactions. Also continues to receive frequent mandates in the food, agriculture and pharmaceutical sectors. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"My experience working with them has been excellent. They have consistently shown that they can handle different kinds of complex work and that's why I regard them as someone we can rely on and trust."

"I feel like they have integrity and honesty in their dealings. They see the long-term value in a relationship with a customer and a bank, and their understanding of issues and commercial insight are greatly appreciated."

What's new? The team added Santander to its list of clients and has also been reappointed to the Ulster Bank panel.

Work highlights Acted for Ulster Bank on a £4 million loan facility for Foyle Food Group, used to help fund its acquisition of Ensors Gloucestershire.

Advised a syndicate of lenders, including RBS, on the Northern Irish aspects of Infinis Energy's £300 million refinancing in relation to its portfolio of 16 onshore wind assets.

Notable practitioners  

Sources have confidence in Fearghal O'Loan's capabilities, highlighting his "good understanding of the commercial issues," his insistence to "do what is necessary to get a deadline met," and his "breadth of knowledge on property and banking law." His vast experience covers restructuring, corporate finance and acquisition finance.  

Significant clients Diageo, The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Invest Northern Ireland.

Clinical Negligence - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 3 associates

What the team is known for Prominent in clinical negligence and professional disciplinary work for the Medical Defence Union. Maintains a strong reputation for advising clients from the private dental, gynaecology and general practitioner sectors.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Tughans is one of the main medical defence bodies and you can respect their work."

Notable practitioners  

Department head Andrew Anthony has impressive expertise in medical and dental malpractice cases. One client said he has a "noted presence."

Partner Alistair Wilson works on larger commercial claims and is recognised by clients for his "extensive caseload."

Significant clients Medical Defence Union.

Construction - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Belfast

What the team is known for Noted contentious and non-contentious offerings, strengthened by assistance from property and litigation colleagues. Acts on matters ranging from development to post-completion disputes. 

Work highlights Acted for Farrans on several construction disputes, including a high-value defects claim relating to a hotel.

Advised the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on claims against various contractors to recover alleged overpayments on contracts.

Notable practitioners 

Michael McCord heads up the team's contentious construction practice. Peers say he "fights his corner very well." His clients include Marks & Spencer.

Significant clients Vaughan Engineering Services, Northstone (NI), Powerteam Electrical Services (UK), JTI Gallaher, Ulster Council GAA.

Corporate/M&A - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 9 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Advises on a broad range of corporate matters including private equity, joint ventures and venture capital. Acts for a number of high-profile clients in the food and drink industry, as well as in the technology and energy sectors.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They did a really great job, addressed concerns quickly, gave good counsel and were very timely. They responded to what we requested, offered insight and were very efficient."

"They made us feel valued. I was impressed by the way they pulled together and by the breadth of their experience."

Work highlights Acted for Dale Farm on the purchase of the issued share capital of Ash Manor Cheeses in Wales.

Represented Blackstone in its bid for Bord Gáis's gas distribution and supply network in Northern Ireland.

Notable practitioners  

Practice head John-George Willis instructs high-market clients on matters relating to private equity, venture capital and funds. Over the past twelve months he advised Mourne Observer on the sale of its newspaper business. One impressed client said: "He is a very accomplished commercial lawyer. No deal is ever dead. He can just keep going and going."

Ian Coulter advises on venture capital and M&A transactions. He was the lead partner on the purchase of the issued share capital of Ash Manor Cheese in Wales, and is described by market observers as a "very confident and exuberant" lawyer who "heads up a lot of deals."

Consultant Vicky Dummigan has an excellent reputation in the market, and is referred to by interviewees as "one of the best in Belfast, a good transactional and restructuring lawyer."  

James Donnelly advises on commercial contracts and joint ventures. He assisted ESB with the disposal of the Powerteam group to VINCI Energies UK. Clients say: "He was very calm and assured, he kept us focused. We were very impressed."

John McGuckian specialises in group restructurings, acquisitions and shareholder matters. He acted for Solv-X Products on the purchase of the business assets of the Carepac division from The Bray Group.  

Significant clients Invest Northern Ireland, E-Synergy, Lagan Construction Group, PathXL, Monaghan Mushrooms.

Employment - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Belfast

What the team is known for Advises on a full range of employment matters, with the capacity to take on cross-border work. A sizeable and experienced team that services a number of large plcs and is well known for its expertise in contentious employment issues, including class action claims.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients) 
"They give a very good mix of commercial and technical advice."

"Their accessibility and core knowledge of the practical aspects of the law are what I would highlight as their strengths." 

Notable practitioners 

Head of department Anna Beggan is frequently active in tribunals and has a wealth of experience supporting employers. Clients say she "has a keen eye for detail and is meticulous in her preparation," while peers point to her experience of TUPE matters.

Ciara Fulton's multi-jurisdictional experience is important to clients, who also value how she "quickly cuts to the core of the issue and gives practical advice." One interviewee added: "She is very reliable and commercial, and focused on our business needs."

Patricia Rooney advises on restrictive covenants and TUPE issues, among other areas of expertise. Sources appreciate her "straightforward advice" and "very cool, calm and forensic approach."

Significant clients First Trust, NSPCC, Invest Northern Ireland, Woodside Haulage, Powerteam Electrical Services.

Environment - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 4 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Advises a wide range of clients, including investors and contractors, on matters including transactions, contaminated land issues and regulatory work. Also handles prosecutions and appeals.

Work highlights Represented Brockton Pradera on the environmental aspects of its £10.5 million acquisition of Springhill Shopping Centre.

Advised Windyfields on environmental impact assessments and planning applications for its £30 million development of three wind farm sites.

Notable practitioners  

Andrew Ryan heads the department and is described as "an expert - certainly a sound environmental lawyer." His practice covers the full spectrum of environmental issues, including waste, contaminated land and contentious issues.

Significant clients Corbo Properties, Irish Recycling Services, Invest Northern Ireland, Monaghan Mushrooms, Blackstone.

Intellectual Property - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partner
- 2 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Widely recognised for its work involving IT-related IP. Regularly assists clients with areas such as  IP ownership and licensing agreements. Particular expertise in advising entities involved in software development.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"The work carried out was excellent and always done in a timely manner."

"They are very responsive and they give very practical advice - I have never had to try to interpret lawyer-speak."

Notable practitioners  

Adrian O'Connell has a commendable reputation for his experience in work arising from the intersection of IT and non-contentious IP matters. Clients note that he is "very practical and down to earth, looking not just at the legal position but also at the wider business relationship."

Kerry McCorkell regularly advises clients on matters such as IP licensing and ownership contracts. She receives praise for her "super negotiation skills," along with her "strong understanding of the commercial issues." One client declares: "We trust her advice implicitly."

Significant clients Invest Northern Ireland, Intelesens, Dale Farm, Sliderobes Group, Export Technologies.

Litigation - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 7 other qualified lawyers
- Office locations ranked: Belfast

What the team is known for Large dispute resolution department. Serves public and private sector clients in a range of complex cases. Well versed in ADR.

Work highlights Represented the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in a £7 million dispute with Lincoln Centre Belfast relating to the alleged breach of a development agreement.

Instructed by Farrans in multiple high-value construction disputes relating to alleged hotel design defects.

Notable practitioners  

Michael McCord is the head of the litigation department. Sources report that he "fights his corner for his clients and is also commercial" in his handling of construction and professional indemnity work. Clients appreciate his careful consideration for their interests.

Patrick Brown is praised for his careful preparation for cases. He is noted for his experience in high-value procurement and public law cases.

Toby McMurray focuses on banking litigation and insolvency matters. He is a prominent figure in the commercial litigation market.

Significant clients Vaughan Engineering Services, Northstone, Powerteam.

Personal Injury - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 4 partners
- 5 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Offers expert representation to clients in EL/PL hearings. Proven track record in catastrophic injury and industrial disease cases. Contains a specialist fraud subdivision.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They always advise us on what is commercially viable." 

"They are easy to work with; I'd recommend them to anyone." 

Notable practitioners 

Kathy McGillie is the head of department and a key contact.

Public Procurement - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 1 partners
- 2 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Highly regarded for its local procurement practice, frequently advising authorities, utilities and a significant number of private sector clients on complex procurement matters. Strong reputation for its ability to handle contentious work.

Work highlights Acted for Ulster Council GAA on procurement issues surrounding construction of a new stadium at Casement Park.

Notable practitioners

The "technically adept" Patrick Brown is favourably described by clients as "practical and commercial." He has extensive experience in handling procurement matters across a range of sectors. Sources say he "is very knowledgeable on contractual legislation and provides sound advice." 

Real Estate - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 6 partners
- 8 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Offers significant expertise on the disposal and acquisition of large commercial and residential properties, with a strong retail focus. Represents a wide range of clients, including insolvency practitioners, banks and local and international occupiers.

Work highlights Instructed by Corbo on the £17.85 million disposal of the investment property in Ballymena let to Sainsbury's. 

Acted for KPMG in connection with the disposal of Clandeboye Retail Park in Bangor.

Notable practitioners  

Head of department Phyllis Agnew is a highly respected practitioner with a wide range of commercial property expertise, including in major development projects. She recently acted for public sector institutions on the £39 million acquisition of shares in the holding company that owns Invest Northern Ireland's office building.

James Pringle has particular expertise in insolvency matters. He regularly advises major public and private clients on site management and investment properties in relation to developments, acquisitions and disposals. Peers enjoy working with Pringle and highlight his commercial knowledge.

David Jones's amicable and efficient approach has impressed peers. His expertise includes institutional landlord and tenant work and investment sales and purchases, specialising in direct foreign investment. 

Significant clients Marks & Spencer, Associated British Foods, Oaklee Homes, Diageo Pension Fund, Invest Northern Ireland.

Real Estate Litigation - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 6 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Recognised for its skills in adverse possession claims, landlord and tenant disputes, planning matters, and issues relating to trespass and nuisance. Provides effective representation to clients in both the public and private sectors.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"An excellent legal practice with all-round expertise."  

Work highlights Represented Northern Ireland Housing Executive in a claim concerning an alleged breach of a development agreement by Lincoln Centre for a city centre development site.

Notable practitioners  

Described by peers as "very highly regarded," Michael McCord heads the firm's commercial litigation department. He continues to be recognised as an expert in real estate and construction litigation.

Barbara Creed is singled out by clients as a "very tenacious and pragmatic lawyer." She is adept at handling a range of contentious property matters, and advising on construction disputes.

Significant clients Tesco, KPMG, Parker Green, Mansford Real Estate, Highcross Strategic Advisors.

Restructuring/Insolvency - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 6 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Large and versatile group, capable of handling contentious and non-contentious insolvencies, as well as financial restructurings. Attracts mandates from some of the largest financial institutions and accountancy firms in Northern Ireland.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"A team of good people, giving a very good service." 

Work highlights Instructed by the administrator to act in the trading administration of the Hanna & Browne and Lisnasure Interiors Partnerships, including advising on a spate of retention of title claims.

Acted for First Trust Bank and the administrators on the administration of Fultons Fine Furnishings.

Notable practitioners  

Toby McMurray heads up the firm's insolvency team, and is well recognised in the market as a skilful and active practitioner. He advises on corporate and personal insolvency issues for a range of different stakeholders.

Significant clients KPMG, Horwood Neil Homes, Keenan Corporate Finance, PwC, IBRC.