Carson McDowell’s healthcare team has unrivalled knowledge and experience of this sector in Northern Ireland. The team advises medical defence organisations, insurers, healthcare practitioners, private clinics, pharmacists, optometrists, and care homes.

In addition to defending clinical negligence/medical malpractice claims on behalf of practitioners from across the spectrum of health related disciplines, the healthcare team includes lawyers who are dedicated to defending healthcare professionals in regulatory and disciplinary matters. We have represented the needs of healthcare clients at a range of high profile inquests and inquiries, including the Vale of Leven Hospital and the Hyponatraemia inquiries.

We pride ourselves on adopting a practical and proactive response to the legal problems faced by our clients. In achieving this, we recognise the need for a rapid response. This comes to the fore for many of our clients when facing complaints or enforcement action by regulatory bodies, such as the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

We also deal with ethical issues and advice on policy and procedure. Our experience allows us to fully understand and assist with the complex issues surrounding information governance with experience in data protection and freedom of information issues.

Our healthcare team is the largest in Northern Ireland, specialising exclusively in healthcare law.

What we do

  • Management and defence of clinical negligence/medical malpractice claims on behalf of their medical defence organisations and insurers
  • Representation before the General Medical Council, General Dental Council and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
  • Advice/representation in disciplinary proceedings brought by employers
  • Advice in relation to enforcement action by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and registration issues
  • Advice on issues in relation to the Primary Medical Services Performers List
  • Advising in relation to proceedings by the Regional Professional Panel of the Health & Social Care Board
  • Assisting with investigations by the Commissioner of Complaints for Northern Ireland
  • Advice/representation at Inquests
  • Advice in relation to data protection and confidentiality of patient information
  • Training on a range of medico-legal issues
  • Reviewing policies and procedures and advising on legal position and Departmental Guidance and Circulars specific to Northern Ireland
  • Advice/representation at Public Inquiries across the United Kingdom
  • Advice on Mental Health practice and procedure in Northern Ireland
  • Public law advice and judicial review proceedings

What Others Say About Us

Chambers and Partners UK 2020

Clinical Negligence:

What the team is known for

Premier practice led by a well-resourced team, adept at defending high-value clinical negligence claims. Provides legal services to a vast range of clients in the healthcare sector, with particular strength in dental claims. Routinely represents prominent defence and protection organisations, as well as indemnity organisations.


Clients say that the team has "very strong clinical negligence knowledge and a real understanding of the issues."

One source points to the "great bank of experts they have available" as one of the firm's key strengths.

Notable practitioners

Jacqueline McAleese maintains a strong practice defending against claims of clinical, including surgical, negligence. Sources describe her as "excellent," adding: "She is understanding, she knows the clinical side of things and she has really good tactical awareness."

"A true specialist," Roger McMillan is noted for his impressive defence practice which covers clinical and dental negligence, including fatalities and failures in diagnosis. He heads the firm's healthcare team.

Professional Discipline:

What the team is known for

Experienced team of professional discipline specialists regularly representing clinicians involved in complex regulatory matters. Acts for the full range of healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists, nurses and opticians. Accomplished in matters relating to claims of drug mishandling, hospice care and sexual misconduct.


Clients say: "Carson McDowell is a go-to firm for complex and sensitive cases. It has a first-rate and well-deserved reputation for excellence in the field of healthcare law."

Notable practitioners

Leigh Linton is noted for her experience representing doctors and dentists in criminal and regulatory proceedings. One interviewee remarks upon her ability to "unpack complex issues in a methodical fashion for clients," before adding: "An air of calm always descends upon the cases under her command."

Roger McMillan is a prominent lawyer with considerable experience representing medical practitioners in GMC, GDC and Royal College of Physicians investigations and hearings. Clients say: "Roger McMillan is a skilful tactician who is highly intuitive when it comes to the needs of his clients.”

The Legal 500 2020

Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence: Defendant

What the team is known for

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.

Notable practitioners

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.


Advising Axis Capital on an employers' liability claim on behalf of a local shipping services provider.

Representing Beale & Co in the defence of a high-value claim relating to an RTA.

Acting for Northern Ireland Electricity Networks in a wide variety of employers' liability and public liability claims.

Acting for Allianz in a claim brought by a minor plaintiff against the client's policyholder, who had struck the plaintiff with his vehicle.

Acting for the London P&I Club in an employers’ liability claim in which the plaintiff alleged that he developed asbestos-induced asbestosis due to working conditions.