Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

Our Food, Beverage & Agribusiness Group combines our highly regarded corporate and M&A lawyers with our regulatory specialists, tax practitioners and top-ranking intellectual property lawyers. William Fry is to the forefront in advising food companies, focusing always on delivering the best results for our clients.  Our specialist team has in-depth and extensive industry knowledge, from advising early stage companies on supply chain management and getting products to market to advising large corporations on tax efficient structuring.

We represent a broad range of clients across the sector, from large multi-national companies with Irish operations to indigenous privately owned entities.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Commercial Contracts (including manufacturing, supply and outsourcing agreements, advertising and marketing arrangements and research and development (“R&D”) licensing arrangements);
  • Food Regulation (including advising on for example EU and Irish food safety and food labelling law, packaging and consumer issues and guidance on regulatory approvals, waste packaging, marketing of food products and national standards for food safety management);
  • Intellectual Property (IP) including trade mark portfolio management, exploitation of IP and enforcement of IP rights (contentious and non-contentious website management);
  • Dispute management (including regulatory compliance, regulatory breaches, product liability, product recall and crisis management, Data Protection and consumer issues and guidance on regulatory approvals);
  • Public procurement, EU and Competition law;
  • Employment law (guidance on employee/contractor arrangements and Irish employment regulations and practice);
  • Property law;
  • Tax structuring (including IP tax structuring and R&D credit optimisation); and
  • Corporate transactions (including fundraisings, joint ventures, shareholder agreements, mergers and acquisitions).

Our experience includes:

Food

  • Boyne Valley: advising one of the leaders in the Irish food sector on its acquisition of the Chivers, Erin, Gateaux and McDonnells businesses from Premier Foods. Advising on product launches, including specific advice on trade mark protection and infringement as well as advice relating to comparative advertising and brand commercialisation.
  • Keelings: advising one of Europe’s largest fruit and vegetable distributors on ongoing corporate and compliance matters. Advising on the IP and de-branding aspects of its disposal of its food services division to Pallas Foods (an Irish subsidiary of the Sysco Corporation) and advising in relation to Government incentive schemes and alternative feed stock arrangements in addition to fulfilling all of Keelings’ commercial litigation requirements.
  • Valeo Foods: advising Ireland’s largest ambient food group, incorporating Jacob Fruitfield Foods, on its substantial trade mark portfolio (including Batchelors, Odlums, Sqeez, Fig Rolls, Elite, Chef, Fruitfield, Tuc and Silvermint). Advising on the outsourcing of its household brand food products (those made by under the Jacobs brand and ‘own label’ brand products produced on behalf of major retailers), and on all commercial and intellectual property matters (including distributor and supplier arrangements).  Advising on parallel import issues and rights enforcement including, most recently, in relation to Erin, Batchelors Beans and Silvermints.
  • Northern Foods: advising the producers of brands such as Goodfellas Pizza, Fox's biscuits and Donegal Catch, on its €668 million sale to the Boparan Group, the first public takeover structured as a cross-border merger.  Advising on various commercial and IP issues as well as advice on advertising and the promotion of competitions.
  • Carlyle Cardinal: advising the private equity group on all aspects of its acquisition of Carroll Cuisine.
  • East Coast Bakehouse: advising the producer of sweet biscuits on all aspects of its initial fundraising.
  • DCC: advising the international sales, marketing, distribution and business support services group on the sale of Robert Roberts (including Findlater Wine and Spirits) and Kelkin to Valeo Foods, a leading Irish foods group. 
  • Subway: advising on the protection of the Subway brand identity and other commercial matters.
  • Tesco Ireland: acting and advising Tesco Ireland in a high profile commercial court case in defence of a trade mark infringement action taken by another supermarket leader. We also advised on fit-outs and refurbishments across Tesco’s Irish property portfolio.
  • Nestlé UK & Ireland:  advising the subsidiary of Nestlé SA, the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company on its Nestlé Irish pension scheme and on an EU cross-border scheme merger, a novel transaction structure for Nestlé and one of the first of its kind in Ireland.
  • Oliver Carty Meats: advising one of Ireland’s largest pork and bacon producers in respect of various corporate and commercial matters on an ongoing basis.
  • Manor Farm: advising the chicken producer on employment law matters.
  • O’Brien Fine Foods: advising the leading producer of cooked meats in respect of the development of its manufacturing plant.
  • Murphy’s Ice Cream: advising the artisan ice cream producer in respect trademark registration and protection.
  • Allied Foods: advising the frozen and chilled food distributor in relation to the winding up of its defined benefit scheme.

Beverage

  • MJ Gleeson & Co: advising one of Ireland’s leading suppliers, distributor and wholesaler of beverage products on the corporate, merger control and employment law aspects of its acquisition by C&C.  We also advised on the employment law aspects of its purchase of the Gilbey’s wine business from Diageo in 2012.  Advising on various commercial, advertising and sponsorship arrangements.
  • Starbucks: advising on a national franchising agreement and on the sale of Starbucks Coffee Company (Ireland) Limited to Atercin Liffey Limited, the Irish based company engaged in operating restaurants and cafes. 
  • Red Bull: advising on the protection of its brand identity against new competitors in the market, as well as advertising and labelling requirements and compliance with the ASAI Code of Practice.
  • Cooley Distillery: advising the indigenous award winning distillery on employment law matters.
  • Brown Forman: advising the American-owned spirits and wine company, the owner of global brands such as Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels, on a bottling agreement for one of their iconic brands.
  • Edward Dillon: advising the distributor of brands such as Hennessy, Bacardi and Dom Perignon, in relation to various commercial and competition matters on an ongoing basis, including its sponsorship of a number of high profile events.
  • Tahitian Noni: advising the international beverage company on various commercial issues and brand strategy including labelling requirements and advertising advices.

Agribusiness

  • Glanbia Co-operative Society Limited: We advised Glanbia Co-operative Society Limited on the creation of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, a dairy processing joint venture between Glanbia Co-Op and Glanbia plc and on the subsequent placing of shares by Glanbia Co-Op in Glanbia plc. The deal created the largest dairy processor in Ireland, with exports to over 50 countries worldwide (the third largest Irish exporter). This was one of the most complex and high profile transactions in the history of the Irish Agribusiness sector which will provide Glanbia Co-operative Society with direct ownership of critical dairy processing assets and facilitate projected growth of 60% in milk production by 2020.
  • National Dairy Council: assisting in the management of its brand identity, including licensing agreements and celebrity endorsements via television advertisements and personal appearances. Advising on EU competition law aspects of its numerous promotional campaigns.
  • Monford AG Systems: advising the manufacturer of Grassometer, a grassland management product, in respect of litigation and commercial matters.
  • Dairymaster: advising the manufacturer of high performance milking, feeding and slurry handling equipment in relation to various commercial, employment and litigation matters.

Updated EU Novel Food Regulation on the Way

Changes to how Novel Food is regulated will apply from 1 January 2018


New EU Legislation to Help Tackle Food Fraud

New Official Controls Regulation to improve food traceability and restore consumer trust in the integrity of agri-food chain


Breaking down the General Scheme of Data Protection Bill 2017 Part 3: Circuit Court to be used to Confirm Fines

Fines issued by Ireland's Data Protection Authority would be confirmed by the Circuit Court according to proposed rules in the General Scheme of the Data Protection Bill 2017


Advertising on the Edge - Success for Dunnes in Price Comparison Appeal

Shelf-edge labels may compare competitors' products on price alone, according to the Court of Appeal


Food Safety Law and the Defence of Due Diligence

How can business operators demonstrate due diligence in putting food on the market?


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Department

  • Corporate/M&A
    • "All the people there are exceptional - whoever you work with can take you through the whole process and you will be in excellent hands. There is remarkable strength in depth throughout the team." Chambers, 2016 - Corporate/M&A
    • "Provides constructive and focused solutions. A strong firm that I'd happily work with again." Chambers, 2016 - Corporate/M&A
    • William Fry’s team has ‘tremendous industry knowledge and experience’. Legal 500 EMEA, 2015 - Corporate & Commercial
    • "The legal advice is always given in a digestible, user-friendly format, and the team understands market practices well, not just in Ireland but internationally. It is sophisticated in what it does." Chambers Europe, 2015 - Corporate & Commercial
    • "The team is good at cutting through to the key issues and comprehensive in terms of identifying risks. The team is responsive, the level of care and attention is strong and the advice is clear to understand." Chambers Europe, 2015 - Corporate & Commercial
  • Intellectual Property
    • "This firm is absolutely the best I've dealt with, holding its own on an international level." Chambers, 2016 - Intellectual Property  
    • "I would not look past this team for any IP work - the firm delivers a top-notch service." Chambers, 2016 - Intellectual Property  
    • William Fry’s ‘go-to team of experts’ includes Leo Moore. Legal 500 EMEA, 2015 - Intellectual Property 
    • "Very responsive and aware of the business aspects of a deal." Chambers Europe, 2015 - Intellectual Property
    • "Even though we are a small company, the firm gives us its full attention." Chambers Europe, 2015 - Intellectual Property
  • Tax
    • "The firm is very responsive and has great resources, including access to a global network of tax advisers, which benefits us internationally and is a fantastic asset. The firm's ability to provide both legal and tax advice really ensures everything fits together." Chambers Europe, 2016 - Tax
    • "The lawyers are technically and commercially the best I have dealt with. I have always been very impressed with their well-thought-out and thorough advice. You can always get through to the partners and their brilliant associates."  Chambers Europe, 2015 - Tax 
    • "This team is fantastic – always available and really responsive." Chambers Europe, 2015 - Tax
  • Competition & Regulation
    • William Fry is a ‘top competition firm’, with a ‘technically excellent team’. Sheila Tormey is ‘a strategic thinker’, and Cormac Little ‘really engages with clients’. Legal 500, 2016 - EU & Competition 
    • "The firm was incredibly responsive and committed, taking calls on weekends to hit deadlines. The team took away all the stress and uncertainty from me, and was quickly able to address issues that went outside competition law. We benefited from the wider depth of expertise and experience the firm offers." Chambers, 2016 - Competition/European Law
    • "From the moment we made contact the team was extremely responsive and knowledgeable. Any correspondence put forward on our behalf contained great arguments that were straight to the point and made the right statement. The firm really stands out by taking a more reassuring and friendly approach towards its clients." Chambers, 2016 - Competition/European Law
    • William Fry stands out for its 'peerless dedication' and 'strength across the board'. Department head Cormac Little is 'a recognised expert in the field' and Sheila Tormey has 'an outstanding analytical mind'.  Legal 500, 2015 - EU & Competition 
    • "The turnaround speed of this team is impressive, especially when put to a tight deadline. The lawyers are very responsive and can manage a huge amount of paperwork."  Chambers Europe, 2015 - Competition 

Individual

  • Shane O'Donnell
    • "Shane embodies this firm's brilliance. He executes our objectives to the letter and he is able to anticipate our goals and boundaries very accurately, which frees us up to be more productive as an organisation." Chambers Europe, 2016 - Corporate / M&A
    • Shane is praised by clients for his practical approach; "in addition to legal skills, he also brings a commercial dimension."  Chambers Europe, 2015 - Corporate & Commercial 
  • Leo Moore
    • According to sources, Leo Moore is "very good at grasping technical issues, and explaining them in a non-technical manner," with one adding: "One of the best things is that he figures out how to make things happen, never coming back with reasons not to do things." Chambers Europe, 2016, Intellectual Property
    • Leo is "extremely responsive, knowledgeable and conscientious."  Chambers Europe, 2015 - Intellectual Property 
  • Laura Scott
    • Her expertise includes all manner of contentious issues relating to patents, trade marks and copyright, as well as designs and confidential information.
      Chambers Europe, 2016, Intellectual Property  
  • John Magee 
    • Clients pick out John Magee as someone who is "easy and straightforward to deal with, even when under pressure. He is definitely a person I would go to in a crisis."  Chambers Europe, 2016, Intellectual Property  
  • Cliona Donnelly
    • "I was amazed at her ability to step in and pick up the work. She did a wonderful job and gave great advice, showing how knowledgeable and experienced she is." Legal 500, 2016, Tax
  • Cormac Little
    • Cormac ‘really engages with clients’. Legal 500, 2016, EU & Competition 
    • Cormac is "lightning quick, and able to comprehend complex issues right away, showing that he is committed to our situation." Chambers, 2016, EU & Competition 
    • Cormac Little is "very knowledgeable, experienced and well respected" in Irish competition law. Chambers Europe, 2015, Competition 
  • Sheila Tormey
    • According to clients, Sheila is "commercial, and able to see the bigger picture, yet highly accurate and thorough in her approach." Chambers, 2016, EU & Competition 
    • Sheila Tormey is "a strategic thinker". Legal 500, 2016, EU & Competition 

Key Contacts

Shane O'Donnell Partner

Leo Moore Partner

Emily Comber Partner

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