Media and entertainment in Ireland

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox has a varied practice in the media and entertainment sphere, with matters ranging from defamation proceedings to commercial licensing agreements. In the defamation space, the practice handles High Court litigation, including acting for internet companies such as Facebook in cases relating to alleged defamatory content on their platforms. The sports sector is another area of focus for the team, which provides comprehensive advice to clients on distribution and broadcast agreements, advertising and other commercial issues. The team is jointly headed by Colin Kavanagh, who focuses on corporate, commercial and regulatory work, and Gavin Woods, who leads the defamation practice.

Practice head(s):

Colin Kavanagh; Gavin Woods

Other key lawyers:

Domhnall Breatnach

Testimonials

‘A good mix of commercial, contractual and litigation lawyers. Overall a strong team that can take matters from start to end, whether commercial or litigation. Part of a good international network of firms.’

‘Domhnall Breatnach has very good experience in IP matters including comparative advertising and blocking injunctions. Very strong on the detail and gives strategic advice while at the same time being aware of costs and the need for resolution. Gavin Woods gives really practical advice around disputes and has good expertise in IP, in particular copyright and trade marks. He is conscious of the need to balance litigation costs against business objectives and required outcomes.’

Key clients

Center Parcs

Coolmore Stud

Facebook Ireland Limited

IAC Search & Media

Rugbypass

The Chester Beatty Library

Trinity College Dublin

Wireless Group plc

2RN

6 Nations Rugby

UEFA

Konami

Fitbit

The Abbey Theatre

Nike

Converse

Work highlights

  • Acting for Facebook Ireland in a number of high-profile matters, including Irish High Court proceedings related to the significant issue of scam advertisements appearing on its platform, whereby false advertisements promote fake news stories about well-known individuals.
  • Assisting Epic Games Inc, the makers of Fortnite, with the jurisdictional aspects of multi-jurisdictional antitrust litigation against Google and other entities arising from the removal of Fortnite from the Google Play Store.
  • Advising Uefa on a range of advertising and promotional issues, in particular sport and alcohol advertising, stadium and surrounding area smoking regulations, and health and safety issues relating to the staging of a number of Euro 2020 games in Ireland and the cancellation of the Irish-based games.

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP

Mason Hayes & Curran's broad media and entertainment practice encompasses corporate transactions and commercial matters as well as litigation. The practice is particularly active in handling M&A deals involving media companies, with practice head and media regulation specialist Michael Madden acting alongside the firm’s corporate partners to advise on these transactions. Madden’s regulatory work includes assisting clients with compliance with EU regulations such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. Gerard Kelly is another name to note and represents clients in media-related disputes, including commercial litigation and defamation claims.

Practice head(s):

Michael Madden

Other key lawyers:

Gerard Kelly

Key clients

Bauer Media

Facebook

Raidió Teilifís Éireann

Virgin Media

Sports Information Services (SIS)

LinkedIn

Verizon Media

Work highlights

  • Advised Bauer Media on all areas of law relating to its 2021 entry into the Irish radio market through its acquisition of Communicorp Group, Ireland’s largest commercial radio station group.

Matheson LLP

Matheson LLP is widely recognised in the market for its work in the Irish film and TV sector. Practice co-head Ruth Hunter has more than 20 years’ experience in this space; she advises domestic and international clients on Irish productions, and also provides assistance with the financing of projects. Co-head Michael Byrne frequently handles defamation cases, and has recently been active in advising on compliance with takedown requests and court injunctions related to defamation proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Ruth Hunter; Michael Byrne

Key clients

Port Pictures Limited

Treasure Entertainment Limited

Subotica Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising on the production of the second series of “Smother”, a television drama series developed by Treasure Entertainment in conjunction with BBC Studios Productions, which started shooting in Ireland in the second quarter of 2021.
  • Advising Subotica on the production and financing of a feature film entitled “Provision” written and directed by Frank Berry and starring Leticia Wright and Josh O’Connor.
  • Advising Blinder Films on aspects of the production and financing of a feature film entitled “Mr Malcolm’s List” based on the novel of the same name written by Suzanne Allain and starring Freida Pinto, Zawe Ashton, Sope Dirisu and Oliver Jackson Cohen.

McCann FitzGerald LLP

McCann FitzGerald LLP frequently represents Irish and multinational media outlets in high-profile, complex defamation proceedings and also handles non-contentious work, particularly advising media companies on joint ventures. The team’s work in the gambling sector is also noteworthy, with Alan Heuston focusing on this area and advising clients on a range of regulatory, commercial and tax issues. The team’s associates are also praised by clients, with Lesley Caplin particularly noted. Since publication, Karyn Harty left the firm.

Other key lawyers:

Alan Heuston; Lesley Caplin; Ciara FitzGerald; Jamie Flattery; Harry Oulton

Testimonials

‘In what is such a niche and specialist industry, we take great comfort in knowing the advice we are receiving from McCann Fitzgerald is of the very highest standard. The MCF team’s knowledge of how we operate both as an individual entity and as part of the wider group is invaluable. They are conscious of the fit and the appropriate measures to be taken to ensure we stay aligned to the operations of the wider group. Their understanding of our thinking behind commercial decision making ensures we align and achieve the deired outcomes time and time again.’

‘Alan Heuston’s forensic knowledge of the betting and gaming industry is unrivalled across the Dublin firms. The familiarity with our business and knowledge of the wider landscape ensures the advice we are receiving is airtight. As a niche business within a niche industry, for a partner in a firm to have the knowledge of our business that Alan does is unheard of.’

‘There are multiple factors allowing me to recommend the media and entertainment practice group at McCann FitzGerald but the first which was immediately obvious to me is the depth of the team’s analysis of our company’s issues and the clarity with which they present their thinking. Whether in writing or presented orally, the McCann team provides me with the information and analysis I need without significant extraneous detail. As a busy head of legal at my company, I need to move the conversation along at my pace and quickly get the information I require to make an informed decision. McCann excels at this. I much appreciate the weekly summary I receive of our case. I can quickly make sure McCann and I are in sync as to next steps and action items.’

‘I would like to mention Lesley Caplin for the quality of her work. Provides everything I expect from a first-rate law firm and I now use them as the benchmark to which I hold other law firms.’

‘Strong commercial focus with a perceptive and hands-on approach to problem solving, Alan Heuston’s sectoral experience lends this team an unbeatable edge when seeking advice in the betting, gaming and lotteries sector. We have used an array of secondees from the firm and all have been a valuable addition, delivering high-quality outputs.’

‘Alan Heuston has a diverse array of skills with a dual qualification in tax and a history of in-house advisory in the betting and gaming industry. His sectoral experience, proactive problem-solving approach and nuanced approach to communications ensures he is our go-to adviser. He consistently delivers. The firm generally provides reliable, high-quality output.’

Key clients

BBC

Channel 4 Television

Guardian News & Media

Independent News & Media plc (now Mediahuis)

Buzzfeed

ITN

Twitter

Cable News Network, Inc.

British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM)

Soundreef

Reach plc

32Red Limited

William Hill

LeoVegas AB

Addison Global

Banach Technologies

Bethard

LV Bet

Amazon

Huuuge Games

ComReg

Association of Irish Racecourses

Work highlights

  • Advising Mediahuis Ireland Group and many of its former board members in an investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, an inspection by inspectors appointed by the High Court pursuant to the Companies Act and investigations by the Data Protection Commission into INM plc.
  • Defending Twitter in a defamation claim brought by self-help ‘guru’ Tony Robbins arising from the alleged re-publication of a series of articles by BuzzFeed News reporting allegations of sexual misconduct made against Mr Robbins.
  • Advising the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV on the application of the notification of a media merger under the Irish Competition Act to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Philip Lee LLP

Philip Lee is highly active in the film and TV space, acting for a broad client base including prominent studios, production and animation companies, and representative bodies. In addition to advising on productions, it is also engaged to handle their financing, acting on both the lender and borrower sides of transactions. The practice has also seen an increase in instructions by clients from Ireland’s growing VFX industry. Brian Gormley and Jonathan Kelly are the key partners in the team, with senior associate Jessica Gorman another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Brian Gormley; Jonathan Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Jessica Gorman; Aoife McBennett

Testimonials

‘The team stand out for their knowledge and availability. The individuals within the team are very approachable and understanding of the matters at hand. I have never had a bad experience or felt an issue wasn’t being dealt with. Brian Gormley and Aoife McBennett are standout members of the department. Both Brian and Aoife bring a calmness and trust to the production. You know you’re in good hands.’

‘Philip Lee’s knowledge and experience of the Irish film and television sector is unrivalled.’

‘Brian Gormley’s industry knowledge is exceptional and his attention to detail on each matter from minor to more complex is excellent. He communicates clearly and is a fantastic problem solver.’

‘Specialist knowledge across the film and TV team. In particular, Jonathan Kelly is very experienced in all aspects of media finance and takes a practical and commercial approach to problem solving.’

‘Market leaders in film and TV finance with the ability to advise and service Hollywood-based studios, streamers and TV companies. Expert knowledge and deep experience with a commercial approach.’

‘From senior partner down to associate their advice always comes from a place of experience and you can take comfort from the fact that they are so heavily involved in the industry. Jonathan Kelly and Brian Gormley are industry-leading lawyers. Jessica Gorman and Aoife McBennett are highly experienced and reliable.’

‘My experience of Philip Lee has been consistent over many years: first-class legal work underpinned by sound commercial instincts. I am not aware of any other law firm in Ireland that comes close to serving the needs of film and television producers and distributors.’

‘In my career spanning 40 years, Jonathan Kelly is the most outstanding media lawyer I have come across anywhere in Europe or North America: able, immensely knowledgeable and quick to react – great work always delivered calmly and courteously. He and Brian Gormley currently head up an excellent team of emerging third-generation talent.’

Key clients

Screen Scene

Disney

Wild Atlantic

Metropolitan

BRON

Element

Cofiloisirs

BBC

Sixty-Six Pictures

Comerica Bank

MGM

Parallel Films

Work highlights

  • Advising Screen Scene on contractual arrangements with studios as well as on Section 481 tax credits.
  • Engaged by Disney and its affiliate Fox in relation to two major motion pictures which filmed in Ireland over the past 12 months, “The Last Duel” and “Disenchanted”.
  • Advising Wild Atlantic Pictures on various major productions including feature films and television programmes.

William Fry

William Fry is active in contentious and non-contentious matters in the media sector and provides a range of services to media clients, including advising on M&A transactions, regulatory issues, commercial matters and employment disputes. In addition, the team represents media outlets and plaintiffs in defamation litigation. Fiona Barry leads the practice and is focused on contentious work, while Paul Convery is also active in defamation proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Barry

Other key lawyers:

Paul Convery

Key clients

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI)

BBC

EHM Productions (TMZ)

Irish Rugby Football Union

Smurfit Kappa Group plc

The Irish Times

RTE

Sky

Work highlights

  • Advising the BBC in relation to defamation claim by a solicitor in respect of news reporting around a prominent criminal trial.
  • Advising Horse Racing Ireland on a wide range of telecoms, technology, intellectual property, media rights and sponsorship matters.
  • Advising Communicorp on its sale to Bauer Media Audio.

A&L Goodbody LLP

A&L Goodbody LLP‘s media and entertainment practice sits within the firm’s commercial and technology team, and specialises in providing technology companies with advice on regulatory, data protection and commercial matters. The team also handles defamation cases, with litigation specialists Kenan Furlong and Nicholas Cole leading on this work. John Whelan heads the team, and John Cahir is also a key figure in the practice; both focus on technology and data privacy matters.

Practice head(s):

John Whelan

Other key lawyers:

Kenan Furlong; Nicholas Cole; John Cahir; Andrea Lawler; Alison Quinn

Testimonials

‘They’re a very pragmatic team who offer advice that is business-savvy and client-specific. Their negotiation skills assist in getting a good deal done for their client. The service isn’t standalone and it takes into account previous advice provided and involves really listening to the client, compared to some other firms where they don’t always take the client’s commercial agreement into account.’

‘Alison Quinn is clear-minded, highly professional and personable. Her advice displays a real understanding of her clients’ business. John Whelan is highly experienced in advising in commercial, IP and media-related agreements and gets to the core of an issue instantly. Andrea Lawler displays a real concern for her clients’ business.’

Key clients

Digital Europe

Irish Aviation Authority

Work highlights

  • Advising Digital Europe, as an amicus party, on the proceedings in the Irish Commercial Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the validity of the European Commission standard contractual clauses (commonly known as Schrems II).
  • Advising the Irish Aviation Authority in its defence of a defamation claim.

Dillon Eustace

Dillon Eustace specialises in defamation proceedings, acting for a range of media outlets in this space. The team’s work includes handling the Irish elements of multi-jurisdictional litigation. John Doyle and David Kavanagh are the key figures in the practice.

Practice head(s):

John Doyle

Other key lawyers:

David Kavanagh

Testimonials

‘We were very pleased with Dillon Eustace’s services. A very friendly and professional attitude.’

‘We worked a lot with David Kavanagh. He is skilled, accessible and attentive.’

Key clients

Post Publications Limited (The Business Post)

Reach plc

Flynn O'Driscoll

Flynn O’Driscoll handles pre-publication work for major Irish publishers and media outlets, and is also instructed to represent clients in defamation proceedings. In addition to providing ongoing advice to book publishers, the team reviews TV productions and podcasts, including those dealing with complex issues such as criminality. Kieran Kelly leads the practice and has decades of experience specialising in media law.

Practice head(s):

Kieran Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Zoe Mollaghan

Testimonials

‘A major law firm with the nimbleness and agility of a boutique firm, offering top-level service in the fields of defamation and entertainment law.’

‘Kieran Kelly is the standout defamation lawyer in Dublin, ably assisted in the department by Zoe Mollaghan. Both have been offering a leading defamation practice for years. Noted for their availability, practicality and advocacy.’

Key clients

The Irish Independent

The Sunday Independent

The Irish Daily Star

The Sunday World

The Herald

Iconic Newspapers

Mediahuis

Reach plc

Virgin Media Ireland

Penguin Books

Hachette Books

Gill Books

Atlantic Books

Harper Collins

Irish Academic Pres

Empire Elite Limited

Hot Press

The Stand with Eamon Dunphy

Newspread Limited

Irish Licensed Merchants Association

Celtic Woman Limited

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended Iconic Newspapers in a defamation case in which the defendant availed of the defence of absolute privilege, pursuant to section 17(2)(i) of the Defamation Act 2009.
  • Acting for a number of book publishers in conducting pre-publication legal reviews.
  • Successfully acted for Independent News & Media in bringing an application to have a high-value defamation case struck out on the basis that the plaintiff had sued the wrong defendant.

Hayes Solicitors LLP

Hayes Solicitors LLP is well known for its work for The Irish Times, providing comprehensive advice to the newspaper including on pre-publication matters and reporting restrictions. Other key clients include talent and advertising agencies, individual celebrities and prominent organisations, which the team advises on matters including image rights, intellectual property and commercial contracts. David Phelan leads on this advisory work alongside Matthew Austin, while litigation specialist Joe O’Malley represents both media outlets and individuals in defamation proceedings. Laura Fannin focuses on the advertising sector.

Practice head(s):

David Phelan

Other key lawyers:

Joe O’Malley; Laura Fannin; Matthew Austin

Testimonials

‘I found their expertise combined with an outstanding local network of non-legal experts (such as in accountancy and finance) meant you were always guaranteed timely, thorough and actionable advice.’

‘David Phelan was outstanding. As a result of this specific project, I will be recommending our business moves more legal work to David. Working with senior partners from other firms both in Dublin and London, I had come to expect a certain degree of tardiness in responses and rarely felt our matters were a priority. David was the opposite. An expert in his field and a great communicator, he could deliver a precis on the issue at hand quickly and with clear next steps. His attention to detail meant we picked up on a potential commercial issue at an opportune moment that two other independent legal reviewers had missed.’

‘It is their up-to-the-minute expertise and practical approach which makes them stand out.’

‘David Phelan is calm, thoughtful and solution focused. He is a pleasure to work with and is a driver of outcomes. Matthew Austin is well experienced in media matters.’

Key clients

The Irish Times

Tara Studios

Noel Kelly Management

Boys and Girls

United Biscuits

Association of Promotional Marketing Consultants (AMPC)

Publicis

Irish National Teachers Organisation

Nestlé

Institute of Promotional Marketing in the UK

Pepsi

Benecol

Integrated Marketing Communications Council of Europe

MMC Commercials trading as Mitsubishi Ireland

IAPI

CMS

Work highlights

  • Advising The Irish Times in relation to pre-publication and reporting restrictions issues, reviewing articles before they are published on the client’s website or in the print edition.
  • Advising Tara Studios, which is in the process of developing film and television production facilities in Co Wexford, on the first-round investment in the company.
  • Providing legal advice and representation to many of the celebrity talents with Noel Kelly Management, the largest television and radio talent agency in Ireland.

RDJ LLP

RDJ LLP‘s media practice represents clients in defamation proceedings up to the High Court level, acting for plaintiffs as well as media outlets, and advises newspapers on challenging reporting restrictions. In addition, Diarmaid Gavin works alongside the firm’s corporate team to advise on M&A transactions in this sector. Gavin co-heads the team alongside Darryl Broderick, who specialises in litigation and leads on defamation claims.

Practice head(s):

Darryl Broderick; Diarmaid Gavin

Testimonials

‘RDJ has good staff retention, to the extent that we have had the same point person for a number of years in Darryl Broderick. This has allowed a stable and trusted relationship to develop over time. RDJ has an excellent appreciation of defamation law in particular. Equally, RDJ understands the media mandate and public service journalism. RDJ has been developing its data protection team, and we have received useful advice in this area of law, including regarding data access requests and requests to remove content.’

‘RDJ and Darryl Broderick are experienced in defamation and GDPR matters.’

‘RDJ have kept on top of our litigation and ensured that we have done all we can to progress it and keep the pressure on the other side, with Darryl Broderick’s pragmatism ensuring that we keep focused on the bigger picture. Darryl has also made sure that we are informed about the differences in Irish procedure. RDJ have also ensured that we have the strongest team.’

‘I deal directly with Darryl Broderick almost 100% of the time and he is very efficient and easy to understand for a non-legal person. Darryl will always get back to you quickly if he can’t take the initial call. Very helpful, very efficient and gives short, concise responses that really help us.’

‘Ronan Daly Jermyn are specialists when it comes to the law as it pertains to the media, and have a specific team who are highly versed in intricate and complex areas such as defamation and the GDPR. They are excellent at offering dependable, honest and frank legal advice. They work with us so that the best outcome is achieved. Communication in a timely fashion is key and Ronan Daly Jermyn have never let us down. All the lawyers are highly professional and a pleasure to work with.’

‘Darryl Broderick in particular has been excellent to deal with. He is highly versed in defamation law. He is contactable in a timely fashion despite often inconvenient and tight deadlines. Darryl has also provided fantastic, digestible training sessions on defamation.’

Key clients

Examiner Group (owners of companies involved in the publication of the Irish Examiner, Evening Echo and several regional titles)

Expedia/Hotels.com

Hiscox

RedFM

WLR FM

XL Catlin

Wireless Plc Group

WKW FM Limited (Beat 102-103)

Thejournal.ie

Work highlights

  • Acting for Wissam Al Mana, a high-profile Qatari businessman, in High Court proceedings against Facebook Ireland in respect of a series of fake advertisements on the social media platform for cryptocurrency featuring his image and purported endorsement.
  • Acted for Landmark Digital in relation to the sale of Benchwarmers, a sports punditry website, to UK-based Rocketsports.
  • Acting for the Irish Examiner in three separate but connected High Court defamation proceedings issued by well-known Irish journalist John Waters, Roisin Waters and Jake Reynolds.

Addleshaw Goddard (Ireland) LLP

Addleshaw Goddard entered the market in 2022 following its merger with Eugene F. Collins. The group advises companies in the media sector on data protection regulations, intellectual property rights and commercial agreements. The practice also represents media outlets and other organisations facing defamation claims, with Rachel Shanley leading on this work. IT specialist David Hackett is another key figure in the team.

Practice head(s):

Rachel Shanley

Other key lawyers:

David Hackett

Key clients

Vodafone Ireland

Flutter

Sky Ireland Limited (formerly BskyB)

Red Flag Consulting Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Sky in enforcing the copyright in its commercial sports broadcasts in Ireland and in certain circumstances in the UK.
  • Acting for the former CEO and the former director of corporate affairs of Independent News and Media plc in proceedings taken against their former employer in connection with a significant data breach.
  • Acting on behalf of Red Flag in respect of defamation proceedings brought against it by businessman Denis O’Brien.

ByrneWallace LLP

ByrneWallace LLP stands out for its focus on advising organisations on reputation management, including assisting clients with seeking to have defamatory material removed from social media. The practice also advises organisations on incidents in which others impersonate the organisation through the unauthorised use of trade marks. Mark O’Shaughnessy leads the team and is supported by the firm’s litigation practice in contentious cases.

Practice head(s):

Mark O’Shaughnessy

Testimonials

‘Mark O’Shaughnessy was excellent. He was fully on top of his brief, had clearly researched in advance of calls and meetings and although our industry is a niche one, we didn’t have to waste valuable time bringing him up to speed. There was a need for a quick turnaround on some material and documents and this happened seamlessly and efficiently and to a very high standard.’

‘Mark O’Shaughnessy has a very strong ability to communicate effectively. He is very engaged and comfortable with the subject matter of social media and the law. Mark is accessible and very pleasant to work with.’

Key clients

Beaumont Hospital

The Abbey Theatre

Parcel Connect Limited t/a Fastway Couriers

Horse Racing Ireland

Work highlights

  • Successfully obtained a novel and high-profile defamation injunction for Beaumont Hospital under section 33 of the Defamation Act 2009 and provided post-enforcement support which necessitated engaging with various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Rumble.
  • Assisted Horse Racing Ireland in relation to issues arising from a BBC Panorama documentary entitled “The Dark Side of Horse Racing”, which was broadcast on the BBC on 19 July 2021.
  • Providing advice to the Abbey Theatre in relation to its stage production entitled “Home: Part One”.