Sectoral Regulation

The continuing liberalisation of regulated industries over a range of sectors in Ireland and across Europe presents opportunities and challenges for business, often involving complex legal issues of regulatory, competition and administrative law.

We advise on all aspects of sectoral and utilities regulation, including:

  • Telecommunications – licensing and reporting obligations; significant market power; enforcement of regulatory obligations
  • Broadcasting (including the Audio Visual Media Services Directive) – licensing conditions, approvals for change of control and State aid in the broadcasting sector 
  • Energy – gas and electricity licensing; regulatory aspects of commercial transactions
  • Transport – ticketing systems; bus licensing; road haulage
  • Postal Services
  • Other Utilities

Claire Waterson contributed the Irish chapters of "Telecommunication Laws in Europe" (Baker and McKenzie, 2005 and 2013).

Our experience includes advising / acting for:

  • ComReg (the Irish Communications Regulator) in relation to a number of regulatory matters, including representing ComReg in High Court proceedings designed to enforce Eircom’s compliance with obligations as an operator with significant market power and Eircom’s cross appeal, and advising ComReg regarding a regulatory appeal by Vodafone in respect of mobile termination rates.
  • Aughinish Alumina in relation to challenging European Commission Decisions finding a hydrocarbon tax exemption to be unlawful State aid. We represented Aughinish in an application before the General Court and before the Court of Justice of the EU in subsequent appeals.
  • 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. 
  • Private clients on licensing and notification requirements for the provision of electronic communications services in Ireland and on related compliance issues.
  • A private client on the regulatory and merger control aspects of the acquisition of an energy business. 

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


The impact of Brexit on State Aid, Public Procurement, Merger Control and Competition Rules

Irish and other EU businesses continue to grapple with the many challenges resulting from Brexit.


European Commission Proposes New Rules Curbing the Power of Digital Companies

In December 2020, the European Commission launched a much-heralded and far-reaching reform of the rules governing online commerce and activity.


Proposed Major Reform of Digital Services in the EU

Late last year, the European Commission launched its long-awaited set of new rules concerning the digital space.


CCPC Publishes Annual Report 2019

The Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published its Annual Report 2019.


View all

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

Department 

  • 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

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

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
  • Sheila Tormey "handles matters with great efficiency and provides concise and pragmatic advice," according to sources. 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