Public Sector

We have a strong record of acting for government departments, state and semi-state bodies and local authorities. The William Fry Public Sector Group is multi-disciplinary in nature, ensuring that we provide the public sector with practical advice and expertise on a broad range of issues including:

  • Public procurement and projects
  • Public private partnerships
  • Employment and pensions
  • Corporate governance
  • Regulatory issues
  • Judicial review
  • Data protection
  • Freedom of information
  • EU/Competition law
  • State aid

We understand the particular challenges and demands placed on the public sector, and that its actions are subject to a level of scrutiny (and sometimes, challenge) that does not apply to the private sector.

Our recent experience of advising the public sector includes:

  • NAMA, the National Asset Management Agency established to deal with aspects of the banking crisis in Ireland – we have secured a significant and innovative role including in relation to the structuring of NAMA. 
  • ESB, the Irish Electricity Supply Board, on its Stg £1bn acquisition of Northern Ireland Electricity plc. 
  • Department of Finance and Department of Health & Children on competition law and state aid and other issues concerning VHI.
  • Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government on tenant purchase and incremental purchase schemes for local authority apartments and houses.
  • ComReg, the Irish Communications Regulator, on regulatory enforcement matters.
  • Commission for Aviation Regulation on the successful defence of claims by Ryanair.
  • Railway Procurement Agency on a multi-year agreement with IBM for the build, support and maintenance of Ireland’s new integrated ticketing system.
  • An Bord Gáis, the Irish Gas Board, on the procurement and financing of a serviced site in County Cork.
  • Bord na Móna plc, the Irish Peat Board, on the establishment of an employee share ownership plan.
  • FÁS, the Irish state agency for national training and employment, on employment and pensions law, and trade mark protection and enforcement matters.
  • Irish Takeover Panel on compliance with takeover rules.
  • Irish Stock Exchange on compliance with rules by members and on drafting of new rules.
  • Revenue Commissioners on the consolidation of the Stamp Duty Acts.
  • The National Dairy Council on implementing new marketing and communications programmes.
  • Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Irish sea fisheries board, on website matters and electronic commerce advice.
  • University College Dublin on its Gateway development which uses a PPP model and is the largest capital project ever undertaken in the Irish higher education sector.
  • Fingal and Louth County Councils on the design, build and financing of several major infrastructural projects.

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  • William Fry's public sector client base includes government departments, state agencies, regulatory bodies, utilities and local government authorities, and it has recently been increasingly active in the university sector. The team has expertise in statutory investigations, regulatory enforcement and significant energy and transport infrastructure projects, including the proposed development of the Celtic Interconnector between France and Ireland. Legal 500 2020
  • William Fry  has "unrivaled experience dealing with the public sector" according to one client, and is "active in the financial services, employment, telecoms, infrastructure and healthcare sectors". ​Legal 500 2019
  • William Fry provides "exemplary" service to public sector clients across a range of areas, including finance, utilities and education. Legal 500 EMEA, 2017
  • William Fry is "unrivaled in value for money, and always thorough in its analyses." Legal 500 EMEA, 2016 


Claire Waterson

  • Claire advises on state aid appeals for public entities and beneficiary companies. She also stands out for her advice to Irish regulators: "Waterson is perfect, unbelievably organised and extremely responsive." reports one interviewee. "She is second to none on procurement and regulatory topics." Chambers Europe 2020
  • Claire has been described by clients as an "excellent lawyer with a calm approach"  who "provides efficient and well-reasoned responses." Another client noted that Claire "is clever and shows keen attention to detail – she makes complex ideas appear simple." Legal 500 2020
  • Claire is an established figure with a formidable track record in state aid, public procurement and regulated industries mandates. According to one interviewee, she "is a highly organised and efficient lawyer, very very process-driven, always thinking of the next step and how to maximise your position at every point."Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Claire Waterson is "calm, considered and practical," according to market sources. She is regarded as an expert on competition, regulatory and procurement issues. One commentator remarks: "She is very concise, good with clients and knows her stuff. She has a good combination of business sense and competition acumen which is very good for clients." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Clients say that she is "very cool and measured, with a real conciseness in how she thinks about issues." Chambers Europe 2017
  • Claire is ‘very knowledgeable and has a good relationship with the regulatory authorities’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017 
  • Clients say she has a "very smart, analytical brain, and is good on the nuances of EU directives." Chambers Europe 2016

Shane Kelleher

  • Shane has been ranked in Chambers FinTech 2020, one interviewee says: “Shane is up there as one of the experts in payment licences, e-money and in working with lots of FinTechs." 
  • Shane has been described by clients as "Diligent, responsive, efficient, knowledgeable and having good regulator relations." Another client adds that he "is an outstanding regulatory lawyer. He deals expertly with highly technical matters and is extremely responsive and pro-active. He is very highly respected by both our in-house legal team and the wider business." IFLR1000 2020
  • Clients describe Shane as "an outstanding regulatory lawyer. He deals expertly with highly technical matters and is extremely responsive and pro-active. He is very highly respected by both our in-house legal team and the wider business."... "He is highly responsive and knowledgeable with respect to the FinTech legal and regulatory space. He brings a forthright and challenging mind-set with a keen eye on the commercial aspects of each regulatory challenge."..."Diligent, responsive, efficient, knowledgeable and good regulator relations." IFLR 1000 2019
  • Shane is described by clients as giving “extremely strong regulatory advice, which adopts a sensible risk based approach to issues...Huge attention to detail and depth of knowledge.” IFLR 1000 2018
  • According to clients in IFLR 1000 2017, Shane "is very approachable, has much knowledge in his field and always provides comprehensive, informative responses to any queries we have."

Carol Plunkett

  • Clients describe Carol as a "brilliant lawyer" and "leading practitioner."  Chambers Europe 2020
  • Carol is "rated highly in terms of competence, experience, knowledge and judgement". One client notes that they have worked with Carol "on a number of cases in the last 12 months ranging from SPC validity proceedings to copyright."They add that they "are awaiting judgment in one case where I expected we would lose at the proofs stage but now believe that we will likely win because of the work put in by the team. On the IP side I would rate Fry as the leading firm in Ireland."Legal 500 2020
  • Carol is lauded as "an intellectual property law giant,"and is reputed for her long-standing experience in the market. Sources highlight her "well-deserved reputation for handling commercial litigation before the Irish courts, based on years of experience." Chambers Europe 2019
  • Carol Plunkett receives plaudits from a range of sources for her expert IP litigation practice. Market sources label her as "terrific" and "one of the best IP litigators" in the market, with one highlighting the "depth of knowledge" she offers. Chambers Europe 2018
  • Carol is an "excellent IP litigation strategist". Legal 500 EMEA 2018 
  • Carol Plunkett enjoys strong feedback for her expertise and prowess in contentious IP cases, as well as litigious proceedings involving the technology sector. One interviewee calls her "a real heavyweight" and "one of the most senior litigators in Ireland," adding: "Nothing fazes her, so that is reassuring for the client."Chambers Europe 2017
  • Carol Plunkett has ‘an amazing IP knowledge base’Legal 500 EMEA 2017
  • Carol Plunkett, who heads the firm's contentious IP practice, is highlighted by market commentators as an "extremely accomplished lawyer" and "a leader in IP litigation."  Chambers Europe 2016

Alicia Compton

  • In Chambers Europe 2020, one source highlights Alicia as "an asset to any client for her practical style and expert advice."  Another impressed client reports: "She figures out the best possible outcome for her client and works relentlessly to accomplish it. She thinks and acts with complete clarity and can express the most complicated and convoluted problems in an understandable manner."
  • According to Legal 500 EMEA 2020, one client said "I work principally with Alicia Compton. She is outstanding. Her key attributes are that she is outcome focused, pragmatic, crystal clear in her thinking and advice, exudes calm, and will tackle any problem. She also leads a strong team very well." Another client noted that "Alicia is one of Ireland’s top employment lawyers. She is always on top of her brief and her down to earth practical approach to problem solving is worth gold." 
  • One impressed client states: "She has extensive experience and knowledge of our business and can provide advice in a most practical and efficient way. She has an uncanny knack of being able to see through the mire and understand where the real problem lies." Chambers Europe 2019
  • Alicia is described as a 'most trusted adviser'. Legal 500 EMEA 2019
  • Alicia Compton is ‘extremely innovative’. Legal 500 EMEA 2018 
  • Alicia Compton is ‘one of Ireland’s leading practitioners’. Chambers Europe 2017 
  • Clients comment that Alicia has "intricate knowledge of our business and backs us proactively at every turn. It's almost like she is a part of our company, rather than an external provider. Fantastic!"Chambers Europe 2016
  • Alicia's  "keen legal brain and common sense result in excellent outcomes". Legal 500 EMEA 2016 

Garrett Breen

  • Garrett has been ranked as a leading individual by Legal 500 2020 in the 'Hall of Fame'. He "has unrivalled experience and excellent judgement. He and his team also work extremely hard and I have never been involved in a case where a deadline has been missed or where better trial preparation could have been achieved." Another clients adds that Garrett "has tons of experience in handling the heaviest litigation and first-class tactical sense. He relates really well to clients, counsel and opposing teams, a real advantage when negotiation is called for."
  • "Garrett has great experience in how best to approach complicated multiparty litigation," affirm clients. Chambers Global 2020
  • "Garrett Breen is pragmatic decision-maker and canny litigator who can calm troubled waters." Legal 500 2020 
  • A client states "Garrett has an outstanding reputation working on cases involving regulated markets. He has particular experience acting on telecoms and financial services mandates. He acted for ComReg on multiple enforcement actions against eir". Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Garrett Breen is "well placed to advise companies and institutions on cross-border litigation and investigations. He has particular expertise in cases involving the TMT, banking and competition sectors". Chambers Global 2018 
  • The "excellent" Garrett Breen handles a range of disputes, and is noted by sources for his knowledge of the technology and telecommunications sectors. Clients say he provides a "no-nonsense approach and sound insight.Chambers Global 2017
  • Garrett Breen is described as a ‘very practical adviser’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017
  • Garrett Breen is well positioned for major litigation cases, as he is "a good organiser of large litigation teams and well equipped for the logistics of the largest, most complex litigation." His broad experience includes prominent cases in the IP, competition, banking and regulatory spheres. Chambers Global 2016

Key Contacts

Claire Waterson Partner

Carol Plunkett Consultant

Shane Kelleher Partner

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