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Stephen is a partner in the Finance and Capital Markets Department at Matheson.

Stephen advises aircraft lessors, financiers and airlines on the trading, financing, leasing and repossession of aircraft. His practice includes the establishment of corporate structures in Ireland to facilitate the financing and leasing of various asset classes, including aviation, maritime and industrial assets.

Stephen advises some of the world’s largest financial institutions and leading aviation industry participants on a variety of transactions and financing products utilising Irish corporate structures. These include joint ventures, operating leasing, orphan financings, sale and leasebacks, export credit agency supported financings, secured and unsecured lending, EETCs, JOLCOs, ABS and PDP financings, amongst others.

Stephen is recognised as an experienced advisor in airline regulation and aircraft registration in Ireland, and has advised on the establishment of a major international airline in Ireland.

Stephen was named as a key lawyer in transport in Ireland by Legal 500 in 2020 and as a Rising Star by Airfinance Journal in 2019.

Stephen is faculty member on The Law Society of Ireland’s Certificate and Diploma courses in Aviation Leasing and Finance. He is also a licenced private pilot.

Experience Highlights

Stephen has advised:

  • A number of leading international asset financiers and lessors on the establishment of orphan and SPV structures to finance and lease a variety of moveable assets including aircraft, ships and flight simulators.
  • A major aircraft lessor on an ABS of a portfolio of 18 aircraft on lease to 15 airlines located in 13 countries.
  • An international airline and aircraft lessor on the establishment and restructuring of its Irish corporate platform.
  • On the establishment of a number of joint venture platforms in Ireland including an aircraft leasing and financing platform between an airline and a major international bank.
  • An international bank on matters of Irish law relating to hire purchase agreements, finance lease agreements and operating lease agreements for agricultural equipment in Ireland.
  • A leading aircraft lessor on all matters of Irish law relating to the sale of 16 commercial aircraft and a related corporate restructuring exercise. The aircraft were leased to over 10 airlines in 11 countries.
  • A large international airline on a pre-delivery payment financing facility and long-term sale and leaseback of 25 new commercial aircraft with 3 different aircraft lessors.
  • An airline group on a EETC transaction to finance 10 aircraft and a separate AFIC financing to finance 6 aircraft for the same airline group. These transactions represented the first EETC and AFIC financings for the client.
  • On the establishment of an Irish licenced airline and on a number of aircraft leasing platforms.
  • A financial institution on the repossession and deregistration of Irish registered commercial aircraft.

Admitted as a solicitor in Ireland

University College Dublin, Bachelor of Law and French Law

University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas, French Law

Law Society of Ireland, Diploma in Aviation Leasing and Finance

"Stephen Gardiner’s work style and attitude make us enjoy working with him"
Asset Finance: European Legal 500 2024

Stephen Gardiner is named Next Generation Partner
Asset Finance: European Legal 500 2024

"It is very apparent to the client that Stuart Kennedy, Yvonne McWeeney, Stephen Gardiner and Rory McPhillips actively work together to support each other to ensure that all deals are properly serviced and executed. I always feel when working with the team that there is a partner available to advise or support on any issue which we may have."
Transport: European Legal 500 20244

"I have always been impressed by the depth of knowledge and experience, in addition to the responsiveness, collaborative and solutions-driven approach of the Matheson team, and in particular Stephen Gardiner, Rory McPhillips and Yvonne McWeeney."
Transport: European Legal 500 2024

“Very knowledgeable and responsive on client matters. Very approachable.”
IFLR1000 33rd edition 2023

Recognised as a Rising Star for Aviation at the Rising Star Awards Europe 2021

Recognised in the Expert Guides Rising Stars Guide 2021

"A rising star in this team is Stephen Gardiner, who is a very good lawyer".
The Legal 500 2021