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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 21
  • Directors 13
  • Solicitors and associates 29
  • Other fee-earners 12

THE FIRM Tughans is a long established and leading Northern Ireland law firm. Continuing to build on its renowned practice areas of corporate, real estate, commercial litigation, insurance and employment, the firm has experienced significant growth in other key sectors including banking and restructuring, insolvency, procurement and energy. The firm’s partners are recognised in industry as leaders in their field and continue to lead on a number of significant transactions and high profile cases. A trusted advisor to many of Northern Ireland’s leading companies, SMEs and international corporations doing business in the region, assisting entrepreneurial start-ups and advising on FDI, the firm focuses on building strong client relationships and providing tailored, commercial advice.
Tughans has a formal association with leading Dublin law firm, William Fry and works closely with international firms in 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.
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 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.
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, 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.
Insurance: 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.
PFI/PPP/Projects: The firm continues to play a major part in the largest projects in Northern Ireland, principally in the healthcare, IT and infrastructure 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.
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
  • 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

- 3 partners
- 9 other qualified lawyers 

What the team is known for Proficient at dealing with a wide variety of finance and security transactions including acquisitions and management buy-outs and buy-ins. Increasingly active in the food and agriculture sector. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Commercial awareness: "Very well connected and very proactive in terms of making transactions happen.

Efficiency: "They do what they do well and efficiently.

What's new? The team has gained Rabobank as a client.

Work highlights Advised on the global refinancing of KANA's facilities with Silicon Valley Bank, particularly on its Irish and Northern Irish aspects. The transaction was worth USD90 million.

Advised Ulster Bank on the financing of the acquisition of Leicestershire Quality Meats by Foyle Food Group. The team also advised on managing the security of the new asset.

Notable practitioners 

Fearghal O'Loan is respected by his peers for his diligence and dedication to the field."He's very fair and prompt, you know his documents are going to be good,” explains one admiring peer. Another enthuses: "He's a very hard worker. You'll be receiving emails from him through the day and also throughout most of the night. His turnaround time is very impressive – he's very competent.

Significant clients The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, Danske Bank, NAMA.

Clinical Negligence - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department

- 2 partners
- 3 associates

What the team is known for Maintains a leading position in clinical negligence defence in Northern Ireland. Well known for its significant high-value caseload and an increasing volume of dental negligence work.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Market standing: "They are certainly in the top level of defence practitioners."

Notable practitioners  

Head of healthcare Andrew Anthony receives warm praise from market commentators. He has extensive experience of representing both doctors and dentists in defence of negligence claims.

Peers commend Alistair Wilson for his "robust defence of clients." He handles a range of clinical negligence matters, including the defence of dental practitioners.  

Clinical Negligence - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department

- 2 partners
- 3 associates

What the team is known for Maintains a leading position in clinical negligence defence in Northern Ireland. Well known for its significant high-value caseload and an increasing volume of dental negligence work.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Market standing: "They are certainly in the top level of defence practitioners."

Notable practitioners  

Head of healthcare Andrew Anthony receives warm praise from market commentators. He has extensive experience of representing both doctors and dentists in defence of negligence claims.

Peers commend Alistair Wilson for his "robust defence of clients." He handles a range of clinical negligence matters, including the defence of dental practitioners. 

Construction - Northern Ireland

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

What the team is known for Has contentious and non-contentious capability thanks to strong links with the firm's real estate and commercial litigation teams. Strong public and private sector practice.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "The team is upfront on the benefits and risks. We are always well informed about the options."

Clarity: "The team presents issues in a way that is easily understood."

Work highlights Advised Ulster Council GAA on the financing and construction of the £78.5 million multi-purpose stadium at Casement Park, Belfast.

Advised Tesco on the purchase, development and construction of new stores in Northern Ireland.

Notable practitioners  

Michael McCord is praised by a client for delivering "good, sound advice" and providing "good legal support in a professional manner." He heads the department and leads on key disputes.

Significant clients DCE Technologies, Cybersource, Mivan, Diageo Pension Trust.

Corporate/M&A - Northern Ireland

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

What the team is known for Advises on market-leading M&A deals, venture capital, funds and private equity. Provides expertise to strong clients in food and drink, technology and construction.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Breadth of services: "A high level of knowledge and expertise; it has a lot of specialists."

Responsiveness: "Promptly assembles a team in the timescale needed."

Market standing: "Its purely Northern Ireland-based business model is its strength."

What's new? Gaelic Athletic Association was secured as a new client.

Work highlights Advising the Gaelic Athletic Association on all aspects of its £74 million project to construct a new stadium on the site of Casement Park.

Advised PathXL on the equity investment by Par Equity and Invest Northern Ireland.

Notable practitioners 

Head of the department John-George Willis advises on M&A transactions and MBOs, with a focus on the energy, ICT and agribusiness sectors. He is the lead partner on the redevelopment of Casement Park and market commentators note that he has an excellent reputation: "He always brings a lot of gravitas to a transaction."

As well as being the managing partner of the firm and chairman of the CBI in Northern Ireland, Ian Coulter also advises on M&A and venture capital transactions. Clients recommend him as someone who is "dynamic, proactive and very calm under pressure."

James Donnelly advises on sales and acquisitions, MBOs and venture capital. He led on an equity investment in PathXL and is "creative in his solutions and diligent in protecting his clients."

John Turley advises on a wide range of corporate matters and is a "very affable lawyer," according to clients. He founded and now heads the sports law and management team at the firm.  

Commentators say that John McGuckian "communicates well and understands the commercial side of things."

Significant clients Invest Northern Ireland, Diageo, Lagan Construction Group, United Dairies/Dale Farm, Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

Since publication, John Turley has joined Millar McCall Wylie

Employment - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department

- 2 partners
- 4 other qualified practitioners
- Office locations ranked: Belfast

What the team is known for Contentious and non-contentious advice to corporate employers across Northern Ireland. Experienced in managing transactional issues, including TUPE transfers and redundancy issues.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "Their client service is exceptional. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them."

Notable practitioners   

Anna Beggan is a "first-class" practitioner noted for her skill in handling employment matters in a transactional context. She is also able to handle tribunal issues.

Ciara Fulton has an excellent understanding of employment law in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. Clients praise her "practical and commercial approach" and ability to "cut through and get to the nub of the issue."

Patricia Rooney provides "sound, practical and considered advice" and "knows the law inside out."

Significant clients First Trust, Invest NI, Belfast Harbour Commissioners, NSPCC, Bord na Móna.

Environment - Northern Ireland

What the team is known for Undertakes a broad scope of work such as defending environmental prosecutions, advising on transactional matters, regulatory and permitting advice, and advising on issues such as asbestos and contaminated land.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Responsiveness: "We keep returning because they are very responsive and get back to your enquiries no matter how small or how minor the question might be."

Work highlights Advised Lagan Construction on the development of three waste-to-energy plants in England.

Advised Ilex Urban Regeneration on issues related to contaminated land and environmental impact assessments.

Notable practitioners 

Andrew Ryan is noted by his peers as a "capable environment lawyer." He is an experienced environmental specialist, with expertise in areas such as waste, contaminated land and enforcement by regulatory authorities. Client sources say: "He is so efficient at responding to enquiries."

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

Intellectual Property - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department

- 1 partner
- 2 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Heavily focused on the technology sector. Acts for companies of all sizes and has particular expertise on IP issues surrounding information technology, especially software development.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "Very efficient and fast response to questions, with a good understanding of the requirements. They didn't just follow what was requested but suggested alternatives and added value to the negotiations."

Work highlights Working as lead adviser to Aerojet on the IP considerations surrounding its strategic alliance with Thales Air Defence.

Managing Sliderobes Group's trade mark portfolio, including acting on several infringement claims.

Notable practitioners 

Team head Adrian O'Connell is an expert on contracts involving the exploitation of IP rights. Sources say he is "approachable and efficient, and responds quickly in communications," with one adding: "He has our best interests at heart."

Significant clients Asidua, Export Technologies, Intelesens, PathXL, Kelvatek.

Litigation - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department

- 6 partners
- 4 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Expertise in ADR. Represents both public and private sector clients across a wide range of disputes including property and construction matters, professional negligence claims and contentious insolvency.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "The team is very client-oriented and members always make themselves available. They have a very down-to-earth approach, and make things easy to understand. They provide an excellent service to us."

International capability: "They are excellent. Domestically they know their own market and the system, processes and courts locally on top of being able to assist with international elements."

Work highlights Represented Northern Ireland Housing Executive in a high-value matter relating to possession of a city centre development site and breach of a development agreement.

Represent Diageo Pension Trust in a professional negligence action against an architect in connection with the construction of a shopping centre.

Notable practitioners  

Head of department Michael McCord has significant experience handling commercial litigation matters. He is praised for his "wide knowledge of construction law" as well as his ability to handle multi-jurisdictional cases.

"Available and approachable," Patrick Brown has a strong reputation in the Northern Ireland market and is recommended for his specialist knowledge in contentious public law and procurement.

The "proactive" Toby McMurray is well respected for his expertise in contentious insolvency matters. Sources say: "He always responds and he's always available."

Significant clients Northstone, Lloyds TSB, KPMG, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, Lagan Construction.

Personal Injury - Northern Ireland

What the team is known for Strong position in the defendant personal injury market, with extensive expertise in handling industrial disease and EL/PL claims, as well as cases arising from RTAs.

Notable practitioners  

Kathy McGillie heads the department and is a key contact.

Real Estate - Northern Ireland

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

What the team is known for Well-established Belfast firm acting on high-value commercial transactions including acquisitions, disposals and developments. Also acts for high-profile retail clients.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Commercial awareness: "It's the responsiveness and commercial approach which is key. Giving solutions rather than raising issues."

Responsiveness: "Responsive to our queries, able to explain legal issues and took client instructions well."

Work highlights Advised PBN Property on a proposed £20 million development of a retail park in England.

Acted for Corbo in the £17.85 million sale of a Sainsbury's store to LaSalle Investment Management.

Notable practitioners 

Phyllis Agnew heads the property department. Clients say she is "always very helpful," and peers recognise her as a "very capable individual." Her clients include Colliers.

Clients highlight James Pringle's technical ability, responsiveness and commercial approach, saying: "You can always rely on James to have figured out every angle. He is very quick to come forward with what the right advice would be." Peers praise him as "very easy to deal with, calm, sensible and proactive." 

Significant clients Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Associated British Foods, Picton Capital, London Metric Property.

Real Estate Litigation - Northern Ireland

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

What the team is known for Active in both the private and public sector. Equally capable advising residential and commercial clients as it is advising landlords and tenants. Notable strength in judicial review proceedings.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "There is a determination to get the job done. The service provided is exceptional."

Work highlights Advised Corbo Properties on its successful judicial review challenge relating to the grant of retail planning permissions.

Notable practitioners  

Department head Michael McCord is respected by peers and clients alike. He continues to represent Northern Ireland Housing Executive in a £20 million dispute with Lincoln Centre arising out of a city centre development.

Barbara Creed earns recognition after a successful year advising on a range of matters. Clients say she is "dogged, thorough and extremely good at giving it to you straight."

Significant clients Tesco, KPMG, NAMA, Mansford Real Estate, Parker Green.

Restructuring/Insolvency - Northern Ireland

Basic facts about the department
- 3 partners
- 4 other lawyers

What the team is known for Advises on a broad range of restructuring and insolvency matters. Skill with asset tracing. Receives high-profile contentious mandates. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
Client service: "The team is highly engaged and makes us feel that we're important. Members are responsive and enthusiastic."

What's new? Appointed by the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment insolvency legal panel, following a competitive tender in January 2013.

Work highlights Advising Irish Bank Resolution Corporation on further litigation following a successful challenge to Quinn Group founder Seán Quinn's bankruptcy order.

Obtained an administration period extension for the administrators of Lough Erne Hotel and Golf Resort ahead of the G8 Summit held there in June 2013.

Notable practitioners 

Toby McMurray heads the department and advises a wide range of clients on insolvency matters, with a particular focus on contentious insolvency. Peers comment that he is "both well liked and well respected," and clients say "his technical knowledge is very strong and he has good working relationships with the courts."

Significant clients KPMG, BDO, Keenan Corporate Finance, PwC, AIB Group.

Professional Discipline - UK-wide

Basic facts about the department

- Recommended office locations: Belfast

What the team is known for Represents medical professionals before the GMC and GDC, and also receives instructions from Irish and Northern Irish regulators.

Notable practitioners  

Andrew Anthony is rated highly by peers for his medical defence work.