Telecoms & Media

Our Telecoms Group focuses on the legal, regulatory and tax aspects of operating in Ireland. Clients include regulatory bodies and global multinationals as well as Irish entrepreneurial start-ups.

Incumbents and new market entrants are faced with complex legal and regulatory requirements, often stemming from European Union rules, overseen in particular by ComReg (the Commission for Communications Regulation) and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (the ODPC).  Our lawyers advise telecoms clients on:

  • Irish and EU regulatory issues (including licensing and authorisation)
  • Competition law Content sourcing
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Network build and roll-out
  • Outsourcing
  • Procurement
  • Consumer law
  • Terms & conditions for supply of goods/services

Our team has extensive expertise with regard to licensing and authorisation and to the legal issues in network build and roll-out. We advise on communications infra-structure projects, procurement, content supply, and outsourcing arrangements. Broadcasters, cable television operators and value added service providers also call on our telecoms expertise.

Our Sectoral Regulation team has extensive experience on telecoms licensing and notification obligations, including compliance issues, consumer protection, significant market power and dealing with regulatory investigations.  There is a strong cross-over with our Technology Group with regard to data protection and privacy. We also advise domestic and international service providers on regulatory practices, marketing, data retention and related obligations.

On the broader corporate and commercial fronts, we work closely with our colleagues in other practice groups in the Firm in order to provide clients with a full legal service around corporate work such as take-overs, mergers & acquisitions, trade sales, take privates, venture capital investments and IPOs, as well as related areas including agency and reseller agreements, non-disclosure agreements, employment and pensions and tax.

Our experience includes advising/acting for:

ComReg (the Irish Communications Regulator) in relation to a number of regulatory enforcement matters, including the first High Court proceedings before the Commercial Court seeking to enforce compliance by the telecoms incumbent eircom with obligations arising from its position of significant market power in the line rental market, and eircom’s cross-appeal.

Nortel Networks (acting for the joint administrators of its Irish subsidiary). The Nortel Group filed for bankruptcy in January 2009, with debts exceeding US$4bn.

BSkyB on a challenge by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner that raised novel issues with regard to the duration of consents given by data subjects and interpretation of the meaning of “customer”.

Smart Telecom in its high profile dispute with Huawei Technologies over the supply of high-end IT equipment to a major Irish telephone and broadband supplier.

3Mobile/Hutchison 3G on ongoing telecommunications matters.

Kilsaran on its investment in Imagine Broadband, a pan-European communications provider.

Telefonica SA on tax matters.

Tata Communications on tax matters.

Return of the Live Injunction – Premier League Live Injunction Extended to Combat Illegal Streaming

The Premier League has been granted an extension to a live blocking injunction for the remainder of the 2019/2020 season and the 2020/2021 season to prevent the illegal streaming of Premier League matches. We discuss the recent decision of the High Court, sitting as the Commercial Court, and the potential implications for intellectual property rights in sports in this article.


Reporters are Reminded of Right to Privacy While Being Investigated

A recent English Court of Appeal confirms that people subject to investigations are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy. We examine the decision and consider any implications for Ireland.


It's a Family Affair for Digital Piracy as Court of Justice Rule on Strotzer Case

In a recent European Court of Justice decision, the owner of an internet connection sought to escape liability for copyright infringement allegedly committed via his connection by pointing to family members that also had access. However, interesting questions remain around the appropriate balancing of rights between privacy and copyright.


The Patent Litigation Law Review: Ireland

William Fry have written the Irish chapter for the inaugural edition of 'The Patent Litigation Law Review'


Breaking down the General Scheme of Data Protection Bill 2017 Part 4: Government Committee Issues Assessment Report as Clock Ticks Down to GDPR

Following a consultation period the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality have issued its report on the General Scheme of the Data Protection Bill 2017


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MLI Badge 2019 

Ranked in Media Law International 2019

We are consistently ranked as one of the leading Telecoms law firms in Ireland.

Department

  • Clients exalt the team's combination of market insight and legal acumen: "they don't just give a quote of the law, but a commercial view and an explanation in the context of the market". Another interviewee says: "they inspired confidence immediately with their insight and advice on all matters and came with a deep knowledge of the market". Chambers Europe 2019
  • Clients praise the client-oriented nature of the advice: "They offer a cogent, practical explanation of the law".  Other interviewees value "the quality of the staff and the ability to recommend legal experts in other jurisdictions." Chambers Europe 2017
  • "The team has a wide range of experience that it brings to bear on specific issues, and provides timely and concise advice." Chambers Europe 2016 
  • William Fry’s media team includes ‘excellent’ defamation specialist Fiona Barry, who regularly advises Associated Newspapers on defamation and privacy issues. Claire Waterson is recommended for telecoms work. Legal 500 EMEA, 2015
  • "This firm is very available and responsive, and good at tailoring advice for non-lawyers." 
    "We have a good degree of trust in this team's advice. The lawyers have a flexible approach, and are clearly high quality." Chambers Europe, 2015 

Team

Cormac Little

  • Interviewees describe Cormac Little as a "savvy and sophisticated" competition lawyer. "He doesn't overcomplicate things unnecessarily, but rather has a practical approach," says one client, while another source reports: "He does not panic and has good judgement." One client admires Cormac's pragmatic approach saying that: "Some competition lawyers tell you everything is a breach, whereas he is very, very practical. I’d consider him to be among half a handful of the best competition lawyers in the very small group.” Chamber Europe 2020
  • According to Legal 500 2020, Cormac has been described as "an outstanding competition lawyer who gives excellent advice and is able to effectively communicate in a way that overcomes the complexities of the law." Another client notes that Cormac is an "excellent lawyer who has a calm approach and provides efficient and well-reasoned responses."
  • "He is very quick to understand what the problem is, find insight and give practical advice on how to move forward." Chambers Europe 2019
  • "Calm, knowledgable" team head Cormac Little advised The Irish Times on its acquisition of the Irish Examiner group. Legal 500 EMEA 2019 
  • Department head Cormac Little is renowned in the field of competition law and has a "vast wealth of knowledge in relation to both domestic and EU legislation." One source notes: "He is the epitome of understated excellence - calm, knowledgeable, discreet and quietly strategic in his overall focus." Clients praise his "detailed knowledge of Irish competition law and understanding of the related nuances of engaging with the CCPC." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Respected practitioner Cormac Little offers a "good balance of experience and practical advice" on a variety of EU and competition matters, including merger control and public procurement. Clients describe him as "a very likeable and calm-inducing lawyer." Chambers Europe 2017
  • Cormac Little is ‘very knowledgeable and has a good relationship with the regulatory authorities’.  Cormac is described as ‘ultra-reliable’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017
  • Interviewees describe Cormac Little as "lightning quick, and able to comprehend complex issues right away, showing that he is committed to our situation.Chambers Europe 2016
  • Cormac Little ‘really engages with clients’. Legal 500 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

Fiona Barry

  • According to Chambers Europe 2020, clients appreciate that Fiona is "very careful and thorough," while market commentators highlight her ability to "efficiently find her way to the core of the case." Another clients add that Fiona is "very timely and clear in her advice."
  • Fiona Barry is head of the firm's healthcare team and advises on a range of complex medical mandates, including cerebral palsy and neurological cases. One source says: "She is excellent: confident, careful and easy to get on with." Chambers Europe 2019
  • Fiona Barry "frequently acts for well-known clients on healthcare and medical negligence matters. She is experienced in advising institutional and private clients on regulatory issues and insurance disputes. She assisted the Medical Protection Society with the defence of a EUR1 million medical negligence claim against a consultant gynaecologist regarding a total abdominal hysterectomy". Chambers Europe 2018
  • Fiona Barry holds a commanding position in the medical negligence and healthcare litigation sphere, including regulatory and insurance matters. Clients praise her as being "responsive, knowledgeable and pleasant.Chambers Global 2017
  • Fiona Barry is ‘responsive, calm and considered’. Chambers Global 2016

Laura Scott

  • Laura has been described as an "expert in all areas of IP." One client reports they have worked with Laura "on a number of cases in the last 12 months ranging from SPC validity proceedings to copyright. We 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." Another client adds that Laura "stands out for her technical know-how and is an excellent drafter." Legal 500 2020
  • Laura has been ranked in IP Stars 2019 as one of the Top 250 Women in IPglobally.  
  • Laura Scott  is a highly respected IP practitioner with significant expertise in patent litigation. Sources praise her client-oriented approach, highlighting her "commitment and attention to detail" and adding that "she's a pleasure to deal with." Chambers Europe 2019
  • "Outstanding and a real pleasure to work with...Laura is a highly experienced litigator with intimate knowledge of all areas of intellectual property."  WTR1000 2019
  • “She is calm under pressure and has a depth of knowledge and experience which inspires confidence in her clients,” observes one source. Chambers Europe 2018
  • Laura is "on top of the technical detail...strategic and practical" and is praised for her "attention to detail and drafting skills". Legal 500 EMEA 2018 
  • Laura Scott receives plaudits for her trade mark and patent litigation practice, with particular knowledge of the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors. Clients say: "She is very hard-working, responsive and dedicated to leaving no stone unturned in considering and communicating all available options. She is also extremely pleasant to work with." Chambers Europe 2017
  • Laura Scott has the ‘Midas touch with clients’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017

Carol Plunkett

  • Carol is listed in Best Lawyers 2020 under 'The Best Lawyers in Ireland' for work in Biotechnology Law and Intellectual Property Law.
  • 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
  • Sources highlight her "well-deserved reputation for handling commercial litigation before the Irish courts, based on years of experience." Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Carol Plunkett is an "excellent IP litigation strategist". Legal 500 2018 
  • A client says "Carol Plunkett is best known for assisting pharmaceutical and technology companies with intellectual property and regulatory disputes. She advised GlaxoSmithKline on its trade mark infringement and passing-off action against Rowex Pharmaceuticals". Chambers Global 2018 
  • Esteemed litigator Carol Plunkett  is widely acclaimed for her unrivalled practice handling IP disputes. One source explains: "She brings a whole wealth of experience to the table and is a doyenne of Irish IP law." Carol  has ‘an amazing IP knowledge base.’ Chambers Global 2017
  • Carol Plunkett is widely admired for her strength in IP and regulatory disputes and is highlighted by market commentators as an "extremely accomplished lawyer" and "a leader in IP litigation.Chambers Europe 2016

Key Contacts

Cormac Little Partner

Claire Waterson Partner

Fiona Barry Partner

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