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Nicola Dunleavy is "not only a skilled lawyer but also has strong emotional intelligence".

Chambers Global & Europe 


Nicola Dunleavy is a partner in Matheson’s Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department, with a broad commercial litigation, investigations and arbitration practice.  Nicola is regularly appointed to represent clients in complex, multi-jurisdictional commercial disputes, including arising from mergers and acquisitions and EU law, and in constitutional litigation.  Sectors include technology and telecommunications, pharmaceutical, chemicals, food and drink, waste, water, energy, mining, and transport.  Nicola represents clients in investigations by the EU Commission, ComReg, and other regulators and in defending criminal prosecutions.  Nicola has very significant experience in major development, energy and real estate disputes, including planning environmental and safety judicial review and disputes.

Nicola is a member of the Court of the London Court of International Arbitration and leads Matheson’s arbitration team. Nicola is an advocate in alternative dispute resolution, such as expert determination, adjudication and mediation. Nicola is Vice President of Arbitration Ireland, a Chartered Tax Advisor and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Experience Highlights

Representative matters include:

  • Representing a client in a broadband licensing dispute in ICC arbitration against a State body.
  • Acting for Royalty Pharma in litigation related to its $6.5 billion bid for Elan.
  • Representing a US oil and gas company in a judicial review of a decision of the Commission for Energy Regulation in the Commercial Court.
  • Defending regulatory investigations and criminal prosecutions for regulatory (pricing, tax), safety and environmental offences.
  • Defending a UK telecommunications company in Commercial Court proceedings regarding a disputed break clause in a lease.
  • Leading a Commercial Court dispute between Gibraltar and US shareholders regarding ownership of shares in a Irish biotech company, and related intellectual property.
  • Successfully representing Russian companies in two Commercial Court challenges to arbitral awards.
  • Representing a major European utility (French-headquartered) in respect of two successful court challenges to government procurement procedures.
  • Acting for a multinational energy client in a dispute under a gas tolling agreement, governed by ICC arbitration rules.

Nicola Dunleavy has been recognised by The Legal 500 as an elite leading lawyer.
Planning and Environment: European Legal 500 Hall of Fame 2020

“Nicola Dunleavey is amazing to work with, she is on the ball at all times and works very well with clients to deliver what they need.”
Planning and Environment: European Legal 500 2020

Nicola Dunleavy is truly exceptional, head and shoulders above her competitors. She is an excellent lawyer and offers hugely practical and informed advice to her clients. She is enormously hard working and gets the best out of a dedicated team who all do their best for her.”
Planning and Environment: European Legal 500 2020

"Nicola Dunleavy is an outstanding litigator. Her advice and support to our business has been fantastic.”
Dispute Resolution: European Legal 500 2020

Nicola Dunleavy is “great at listening to and understanding the clients requirements”
Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution: Chambers Global and Europe 2020

"She carefully considers complex issues and delivers well thought out, thorough and bespoke advice."
Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution: Chambers Global 2020

Nicola Dunleavy has been recognised by The Legal 500 as an elite leading lawyer.
Dispute Resolution: Legal 500 EMEA Hall of Fame 2019

Nicola Dunleavy "brings calmness and understanding" and her "knowledge is excellent".
European Legal 500 2019

Nicola Dunleavy is named a leading individual.
European Legal 500 2019

Nicola Dunleavy is "adept at adapting to dynamic situations".
European Legal 500 2018

Nicola Dunleavy is "clear and effective communicator" and an "original thinker".
European Legal 500 2018

Nicola Dunleavy is "very good at co-ordinating”.
Chambers Global & Europe 2018

Lawyer of the year (Ireland) for Environmental Law
Best Lawyers Ireland 2018 edition

Nicola Dunleavy is named a leading individual.
European Legal 500 2017

Nicola Dunleavy has "excellent industry knowledge on infrastructure".
European Legal 500 2017

Nicola is recognised as a leading lawyer by international legal directories Chambers Europe, European Legal 500 and Best Lawyers.


University of Limerick (Bachelor of Arts in Law and Accounting)

University College Cork (Master of Laws, LL.M)

Admitted as a solicitor in Ireland

Law Society of Ireland (Diploma in Employment Law)

Irish Taxation Institute (Chartered Tax Adviser qualification)

Major Infrastructure Commitments in Ireland’s Programme for Government

Sep 8, 2020, 21:27 PM
Yesterday, Ireland’s prospective new government published a Programme for Government (“PfG”) containing some policy commitments which will be of significant interest to private sector investors, sponsors, suppliers, operators and contractors in the Irish projects, energy and infrastructure sectors.
Title : Major Infrastructure Commitments in Ireland’s Programme for Government
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Insight Type : Article
Insight Date : Jun 16, 2020, 12:10 PM
Yesterday, Ireland’s prospective new government published a Programme for Government (“PfG”) containing some policy commitments which will be of significant interest to private sector investors, sponsors, suppliers, operators and contractors in the Irish projects, energy and infrastructure sectors.

We have outlined below some of the key PfG highlights for stakeholders interested in playing a part in the delivery of major infrastructure projects in Ireland.  The green agenda is clearly visible in this PfG and we are delighted to see that the prospective Government is committing to a policy of stimulus by investment in infrastructure, particularly projects that further sustainability priorities such as public transport and offshore wind.

In our view, the PfG is an unprecedented shift towards the green agenda for Irish politics: this shift, which includes a commitment to an average 7% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year, will affect the private sector in different ways.  Many of the more constructive developments will stimulate Ireland’s economy, while certain of the initiatives such as a comprehensive carbon taxation regime and disincentives for stakeholders involved in fossil fuel businesses will bring significant challenges.

As always, do get in touch with us (or your usual Matheson contact) if it would be helpful to discuss these projects or initiatives in more detail.


  • Spending Plans: National Development Plan (2018 – 2027 infrastructure spending plans) review to be undertaken before 2022 to include detailed plans up to 2031 to reflect PfG commitments.  New projects and initiatives will augment the strong existing project pipeline included in Project Ireland 2040.
  • Planning Reform: Major planning reforms to see judicial review reform and the establishment of an Environmental and Planning Law Court occurring simultaneously, together with the long-overdue implementation of reform to the Compulsory Purchase Order regime.


  • Economic Stimulus: Infrastructure development to function as economic stimulus, with a post-COVID Recovery Fund (which we understand will be distinct from existing funding commitments) to be available for investment in infrastructure capital investment projects such as social housing and public transport.
  • Public Transport Commitments: Commitment to delivering Metrolink (high capacity metro light rail), new Luas (urban tram) developments, DART Expansion (heavy rail electrification, rolling stock and an interconnector tunnel under central Dublin), Bus Connects (redesigned bus networks and infrastructure) in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick and national integrated ticketing. For the first time, the prospective Government is proposing to adhere to a 2:1 ratio of expenditure between new public transport infrastructure and new roads.
  • Heavy Rail Focus: Investment in heavy rail to be prioritised through fleet expansion, electrification and the commissioning of economic evaluations of higher speed services between major cities.
  • Housing: Over 50,000 social housing units to be delivered over the next 5 years by local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and State agencies, with reforms to facilitate access to finance for Approved Housing Bodies and local authority discretionary social housing funding to increase from €2m to €6m. The Land Development Agency will have its mandate, powers and responsibilities expanded.
  • EVs, Ports, Water and Telecoms: Development of electric vehicle (EV) charging networks and EV take-up to be incentivised by nationwide strategy, port expansion (particularly rail-connected ports) to receive specific supports, €8.5 billion of capital investment in water infrastructure up to 2040 to be ringfenced and the National Broadband Plan rollout to be accelerated.


  • Offshore Wind: We are delighted to see very strong support for offshore wind, with policy targets to include 5GW of offshore wind off the Eastern and Southern coasts by 2030 and an assessment of the potential for 30GW of floating Atlantic offshore wind, coupled with commitments to hold the first offshore wind auction in 2021 and the enactment of the Marine Planning and Development Bill within 9 months (presumably from Government formation).
  • Onshore Wind, Solar and Other Renewables: The first Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) auction to be held by end-2020 with further auctions taking place annually, long-delayed Wind Energy Development Guidelines to be finalised, solar strategy for both rooftop and ground-mounted PV to be developed and policy to support the use of other viable renewable electricity generation technologies (including a promising commitment to assess the potential of innovative technologies such as green hydrogen) to deliver upon a pledge to reduce Ireland’s GHG emissions by 51% up to 2030 (ie, about 7% per year).  The development of micro-generation (to allow excess generation to be sold to the grid) will also be prioritised (by June 2021) in a further positive development.
  • Interconnection and Grid: Celtic Interconnector (Ireland – France electricity interconnection) to be progressed, further interconnection potential to be studied and EirGrid’s DS3 system services programme (grid services to be provided by various means including Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)) to be continued and supported.
  • Retrofitting, District Heating and CHP: Homes to be grouped into large clusters for nationwide retrofitting programme leveraging innovative (‘smart’) finance models for the delivery of retrofitting projects (with homes grouped by region for efficiency (and perhaps marketability) purposes), district heating pilots to lead to a nationwide programme (with the potential establishment of a national district heating authority) and Combined Heat and Power developments to receive tailored supports.

Key authors of this article: Garret FarrellyNicola DunleavyLeonie DunneRhona HenryKate McKenna and Conor Blennerhassett.

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