MHC Times Issue 37 Autumn 2015
30 October 2015
Welcome to the 37th issue of MHC Times. In this issue, we look at Ireland’s relationship with Europe and what we have to offer as a country across various sectors.
This summer I have had the opportunity of talking to lots of clients and, of course, to potential clients! It remains extraordinary how many comment on two things: their desire for clearly expressed advice and their desire for brevity. One general counsel even said she and her team could spend their entire day translating external lawyers’ advice so that the business could understand it. Happily, this was not her experience with MHC.
It is peculiar that the use of complex or archaic language, and long-winded communications, persists in the profession given the strength of client sentiment against them. Perhaps the old adage “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter” is incompatible with the billable hour. The confidence to bill for the additional time it takes to produce clear and short advice may be absent in some lawyers. Or, the desire to cover off risks and limit potential exposure may tempt others to stray from core issues. Or, more fundamentally, the analysis of the factual and legal issues and the advice itself may be fuzzy in the author’s mind.
In this context, I am very pleased that MHC has sponsored PLAIN 2015, Ireland’s first plain language conference. This was a sponsorship viewed by some with a degree of trepidation and rightly so. As sponsors of a plain language conference, the potential to be lampooned for the failings of one out of our 250 fee earners is very real!
To try and mitigate that risk, in addition to our usual training on clarity and plain language, we started counting the number of times that unwelcome terms such as “aforementioned” and “hereinbefore” appeared in our systems. Happily, on a month to month basis, that count is reducing and we do have to make allowances for the fact that sometimes documents generated by others get onto our systems and are included in the count!
Of course the merit of plain language is the maximisation of clarity and accuracy. It is a hallmark of MHC that our advice be clear and accurate. This is because we see the accuracy of the description of a client’s position as a fundamental part of the lawyer’s role. This is so whether we are giving advice or setting out a client’s position in litigation, in an agreement or in negotiations about a transaction.
We hope our sponsorship of PLAIN 2015 contributes to our being clear and accurate through the use of plain language. I hope that you our clients will benefit from this approach and if you find us using “aforementioned” let me know!
Foreign Investment in Ireland
Another talking point with clients was the extent of foreign investment in Ireland. This remains strong for a number of reasons.
A primary reason is government policy. Since the 1960s, Ireland has adopted policies focused on making Ireland attractive to foreign investors. As the Taoiseach puts it, the objective is to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business.
Ireland’s government takes a “holistic” approach towards this objective by integrating policy across multiple government departments and agencies. As a result, government agencies can provide a helpful interface with companies that look to set up in Ireland. Many of our clients have noted the ease of access to government agencies, when establishing offices here. Our young, English-speaking and highly educated workforce is a consistent draw for companies doing business through Ireland. And our taxation policy is attractive and settled. Secondly, our stable democratic political structures create a secure investment environment with a highly developed rule of law and constitutional protection of property rights. Thirdly, a highly sophisticated ecosystem of professional services has grown over the past number of decades for businesses to tap into when they want to establish in Ireland.
All of this has led to a cluster effect with groups of foreign companies in specific sectors basing themselves in particular parts of Ireland. For instance, a large pharmaceutical sector has developed in Cork; many biotechnology companies have based their operations in Galway and the Silicon Docks host a large number of internet services businesses. The clustering effect reinforces the experience of a workforce in that specific area and serves to develop a confidence in overseas companies when they consider investing in Ireland and see their competitors succeeding with their Irish businesses.
In some ways, Mason Hayes & Curran is similar to the Irish state in that for decades we have taken a holistic approach to the way we provide services to overseas companies considering investing in Ireland. We help them with tax, regulation, commercial contracts, premises and employment contracts. We assist them in how to use Ireland as their European hub.
The approach we have adopted has contributed to significant growth for the firm, which has doubled in size over the last four years. Many international businesses have chosen to work with us. We are not complacent about this growth and will continue to serve our international and Irish clients to the best of our ability.