Public Procurement

Our experience in both EU and Irish public procurement law is unparalleled. We act across a range of sectors, for public bodies, local authorities, utility companies and businesses in the areas of works, supplies, services and concessions. We maintain close ties with relevant EU and Irish officials, including those in the European Commission, the Department of Finance and the National Development Finance Agency.

We specialise in helping contracting authorities (including utility companies) to run projects in compliance with applicable EU and Irish rules.  We focus on minimising any risks to project delivery.

Where things go wrong we specialise in advising in relation to possible Court challenges. We advise unsuccessful bidders on how best to approach debriefing meetings. 

Relevant experience includes:

  • Challenging the contract decisions of public bodies under EU and Irish procurement rules
  • Advising contracting authorities on the preparation and management of procurement processes governed by EU or Irish rules
  • Preparing the relevant contract notices and scoping the project
  • Advising contracting authorities regarding pre-qualification and short-listing of consortia
  • Preparing the requests for proposals and other tender documentation
  • Advising on preferred bidder selection

Our experience includes advising / acting for:

  • Railway Procurement Agency on the EU and Irish competition and public procurement aspects of the establishment of the Leap Card, an integrated ticketing system for transport in Dublin.
  • University College, Dublin (UCD) on the public procurement aspects of Project Gateway, a major mixed-use development of significant architectural merit on a landmark site at the major entrance to UCD’s Belfield campus.
  • Advanced Totes in successful High Court and Supreme Court judicial review proceedings against a public procurement decision of Bord na gCon.
  • Irish Rail on the EU public procurement aspects of the purchase of a specialist software system.
  • FÁS on various EU and Irish public procurement matters.

Actual and Potential Reforms of EU and Irish Merger Control

Both the EU and Irish merger control regimes need regular refreshing to make sure they are both ‘fit for purpose’ – and the last 12 months or so have proven no exception in this regard.

CJEU to Consider Whether UEFA Can Control Authorisation for the Proposed European Super League under European Competition Law

The Madrid Commercial Court has made a preliminary reference to the CJEU to consider whether competition law permits UEFA to control authorization for the proposed European Super League

Recent Developments in Irish Merger Control

Busy times for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Irish Competition Law Update Spring 2021

Recent developments in Irish competition law include lengthy merger control reviews and increased behavioural enforcement. In addition, the Irish Government is introducing an investment screening regime and, pursuant to the ECN+ Directive, increased behavioural powers

Brexit: The Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement both govern the ‘divorce settlement’ between the EU and the UK. Cormac Little SC assesses the lines in the sand.

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We are consistently ranked as one of the leading Competition & Regulation law firms in Ireland.


  • William Fry has a strong reputation for advising on merger control, particularly the negotiation of remedies with the CCPC, and is active in state aid and public procurement matters. One client describes the competition team as "excellent, easy to interact with and responsive." Legal 500 2020
  • William Fry's competition team has been described as "top of the range and a leader in the field." Another interviewee highlights the firm's ability to pull together lawyers from related practice areas, saying: "The teams collaborate well; they are well integrated and work seamlessly." Chambers Europe 2020
  • The team at William Fry is "super responsive, gives thorough and comprehensive advice and is particularly good at handling foreign-based commercial clients". The practice is known for its strength in merger control matters. Legal 500 2019 
  • One client said the department was "Highly responsive, commercially strategic and able to work with very tight deadlines. They have a clear understanding of both the commercial and technical legal issues and give clear and direct advice". Another client states "The firm is super responsive, gives thorough and comprehensive advice and is particularly good at handling foreign-based commercial clients who need to be serviced 24/7". Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Commentators say: "William Fry has one of the top competition law practices in Ireland. The team's strengths lie in its international outlook and competency across the board. It has a joined-up approach for competition, regulatory, IP and litigation work and it also has its feet firmly on the ground in the Irish market." Clients note that the team is "very responsive to our needs, acting fast when requested but also giving us downside risk advice when necessary. Their industry knowledge is high and they have good relationships with the regulatory authorities."  Chambers Europe 2018 
  • Clients appreciate the firm's "practical, business-focused advice," with other sources adding that "they put themselves in your shoes" and "are quick to grasp problems and are solution-oriented." Other sources appreciate that the team "understands the competition market, has good contacts and a very good understanding of the processes." Chambers Europe 2017

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

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

Sheila Tormey

  • Clients have described Sheila as "impressive" and "a professional, slick operator. She’s a stickler for detail. Great on transactions and mergers.” Another client adds that she "provides practical and sensible advice on complex work, is responsive and makes life easy for us. She combines technical expertise with a commercial approach. There is nothing to improve.” Chambers Europe 2020 
  • Sources highlight her client care, with one explaining: "She is pleasant and responsive and has a thoroughly commercial approach at all times." She advised Irish Life Group on competition elements of its acquisition of a strategic shareholding in Invesco. Chambers Europe 2019
  • Sheila is "excellent". Legal 500 2018
  • Sheila Tormey "handles matters with great efficiency and provides concise and pragmatic advice," according to sources. She is especially noted for her expertise in the telecommunications and financial services sectors. Interviewees report that "she has impressed with her ability to manage a large case and in anticipating and meeting client needs." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Interviewees appreciate that Sheila Tormey "goes out of her way to understand the client's case," noting "her great expertise in the EU and competition law." Chambers Europe 2017
  • State aid expert Sheila Tormey shows ‘excellent attention to detail’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017

Key Contacts

Claire Waterson Partner

Sheila Tormey Partner