Leading law firm Mason Hayes & Curran has reported a slight dip in turnover for 2017, with revenues coming in at €76 million for the year compared to €77 million in 2016. Workflows in advisory and contentious practice groups grew but the experience in transactional practice groups was more mixed, with a slow first six months being followed by a pronounced upturn after the summer. The economic uncertainty in Europe, which began with the Brexit referendum in mid-2016, lingered into the first half of 2017 but now appears to be dissipating. Reasonable growth in the Eurozone is complemented by strong domestic sentiment. Despite the persistent risk to Ireland of a hard Brexit, both domestic and international workflows are now solid and the prospects for 2018 look good.
Commenting on the results, the firm’s Managing Partner, Declan Black said “The firm has experienced year-on-year growth for upwards of two decades so it is of course disappointing to see the end of that run. But the outturn is still satisfying given the choppy nature of workflows during the year. Rather like 2016, we experienced 2017 as a year of two halves in terms of transactional activity. The uncertainty that came in the wake of the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump continued into the first half of 2017. However, the second half of 2017 saw an upturn in transactional activity across the firm which strengthened further in the final quarter. The fortunes of large law firms are largely tied to economic activity so with growth established and sentiment reasonably positive, we are confident about 2018. Our focus is always on what we can control and that is providing clients with deep legal expertise and experience delivered in a modern, responsive and collaborative way. That’s how we make a valuable and practical contribution to client organisations.”
Mason Hayes & Curran was the law firm on record in more cases in 2017 than any other Irish law firm. This reflects our unrivalled experience in all types of dispute resolution including in the financial services, construction, real estate, technology, energy, insurance, and healthcare sectors. We have specialist litigators focused on boardroom and shareholder disputes, intellectual property, Government and regulatory inquiries, employment and benefits, procurement and competition and asset recovery. Our team brings huge experience to managing disputes with international or reputational aspects and is adept at using arbitration, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Highlights from 2017 included:
- Acting for Teva Pharmaceuticals in successfully defending an application for an interlocutory injunction application in relation to their planned sale of a generic HIV prevention drug
- Representing Three Ireland in proceedings taken against eir in relation to an allegedly misleading advertising campaign
- Acting for Virgin Media, Three Ireland and Three Ireland Services in blocking orders sought against TV and film streaming websites by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Disney, Universal Studios and Sony/Columbia Pictures
- Representing Valero in injunction proceedings brought against Petrogas over alleged contractual breaches concerning the use of its “Applegreen” trademark and product
- Acting for Facebook in the High Court action brought by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) seeking a referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the validity of Standard Contractual Clauses. The impact of the proceedings is potentially far-reaching and the issues are of fundamental importance to international trade. If Standard Contractual Clauses are found to be invalid by the CJEU following the High Court’s decision to refer, it could have implications for billions of euro worth of trade between the EU and the US as well as, potentially, other non-EU countries.
Our renowned technology law practice continued to grow and was largely unaffected by Brexit and other external factors. Throughout the year our lawyers in Dublin and San Francisco worked with most of the world’s leading technology companies on Irish and European matters. The team is internationally recognised as a stand-out practice group.
The New General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was a significant area of activity for the team, complementing numerous other projects. GDPR related work allowed our technology lawyers to bring their deep sectoral knowledge and experience to bear for the benefit of non-technology clients who must implement GDPR programmes in advance of the introduction of the new regime in May 2018.
We also acted for Facebook in the High Court Action brought by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner seeking a referral to the CJEU regarding the validity of standard contractual clauses. We have been actively involved in this matter since the initial complaint was made by Max Schrems to the DPC in 2013.
We continue to act for the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment on the National Broadband Plan project, a state subsidised broadband infrastructure project making high speed broadband available to all households and businesses in the country.
Real estate activity grew strongly in the second half of 2017. Our Real Estate team, one of Ireland’s largest, advised on some of the most significant transactions in the country, including:
- Acting for Davy Property Holdings in the acquisition of 53 apartments at Shelbourne Plaza, Dublin 4, one of the first deals of this type where residential units have been transferred to a local authority in compliance with obligations to provide social housing
- Representing Chartered Land, backed by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in the sale of apartments on the Lansdowne Place (formerly Berkeley Court Hotel) development site, the first phase of which includes 215 luxury apartments which are under construction
- Advising Accenture on their lease and fit-out of The Dock, their new purpose-built experimental office space at Hanover Quay
In 2017 our Financial Services team advised on acquisition and leveraged finance for corporates, commercial real estate finance, asset finance, debt capital markets and project finance. The appointment of Banking Partner Ronan Armstrong to the London office further enhanced the team’s ability to support both domestic and international clients.
Significant transactions in 2017 included:
- Advising Irish Residential Properties REIT Plc on its revolving and accordion credit facility of up to €350 million
- Acting for EdgeConneX on the Irish law aspects of the financing of its acquisition and development of a significant data centre in Dublin, one of the first data centre construction projects to be financed on a project finance basis in Ireland
- Advising a syndicate of five banks, led by AIB, on Greencoat Plc.’s revolving credit facility of up to €300 million
Our international Asset Finance team advised on award-winning asset finance transactions involving domestic and international corporate clients, domestic and international credit institutions and aircraft manufacturers, lessors and airlines, including acting as lead Irish counsel on the China Aviation Deal of the Year 2017 with the Export-Import Bank of China, Minsheng Financial Leasing and Asiana Airlines.
Our project finance team also acted on some of the largest renewable energy financing transactions in 2017. We acted for Ulster Bank on the project financing of Ballycumber wind farm and also acted for NTR Plc. on the project financing of two wind farms with a combined capacity of c. 37.5MW. We represented the lenders on the project financing of Slieve Callan wind farm with a total export capacity of 45MW (electricity generation equivalent for 30,000 homes) operated by project companies owned by Invis Energy.
In 2017 our Corporate team continued to represent global and Irish corporates on a wide range of transactions such as:
- Acting for Irish communications company BlueFace in the largest ever single investment from BDO's Development Capital Fund, as well as in Blueface’s merger with a bigger US rival, Star2Star, that will create a business understood to be worth $500m
- Representing the McAuley family in the sale of a majority stake in the Sam McAuley Pharmacy Group to Cardinal Carlyle
- Representing entrepreneur Bobby Kerr in the sale of his interests in the Insomnia chain
- Acting for Tetrarch Capital on its buy-out of Citywest Hotel and Golf Complex, Ireland’s largest hotel, from US Private Equity firm Pimco
- Advising the McGettigan family in the acquisition of the Regency Hotel out of examinership
Our offices in London, San Francisco and New York allow us to advise on Irish legal issues close to, and in the same time zone as, our international clients. This reach helps our clients gain insight into Ireland as a location for transactions and investment.
The following article was published on the Irish Times on 22 January 2018. The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.