Public Law

The Practice

Arthur Cox’s Public Law Group advises the Government of Ireland, Departments, agencies, regulatory authorities and public bodies on their day to day legal administrative functions as well as advising on matters of interpretation of public general law, including the Constitution of Ireland, Statutes, Statutory Instruments and the transposition of European Communities Law in the area. We advise clients in the related areas of Freedom of Information, AIE Regulations, Public Procurement and other regulated sectors such as energy, planning and environmental law. In addition to providing specialist expertise in each of the relevant regulatory public law sectors we advise on administrative law processes including judicial review of public law matters.

The Group is a cross disciplinary Group comprising lawyers who regularly advise the State on a broad variety of statutory functions and processes. We have been engaged to draft enabling legislation for practically every major Government agency established in Ireland over the past decade.

In the area of the Freedom of Information Act and the increasingly associated area of the AIE Regulations, we advise both public bodies and private sector clients in respect of the rights and obligation regarding those seeking access to records or information.

In the area of Public Procurement we advise public bodies, utilities and bidders in relation to their rights and obligations under public procurement law. We structure and guide clients through complex procurement processes in a legally robust manner. Public procurements can be the subject of legal challenge through judicial review. We protect the positions of awarding authorities in tender processes conducted by them as well as promoting the rights of bidders in respect of the conduct of tenders.

Expertise

We offer specialist expertise in assisting in drafting complex legislation to govern public bodies and agencies tasked with some of the most significant policy matters being progressed in Ireland.  Once established we often continue to advise these bodies and agencies in respect of the implementation of their public policy goals.

The Group advises on circumstances in which information may be disclosed or may be require to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act and other information entitlements, including under the EC Public Procurement Directives and with the Environment and Planning Group, the European Communities Act, 1972 (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations, 1998.

We advise public bodies, board members and senior executives in the public sector, and others, in relation to the obligations governing disclosure of information, acceptance of gifts and otherwise pursuant to the Ethics in Public Office Acts and the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001, the filing of returns and other matters pertaining to the Government Guidelines for State Bodies.

In public procurement we advise on the application of Procurement Directives (2014/23; 2014/24; and 2014/25 EU) (as transposed by SI 284 of 2016; SI286 of 2016 and SI 203 of 2017) and the applicable Remedies regime (Directive 2007/66/EC) (as transposed by SI 130 of 2010). The Directives and Regulations are constantly evolving through amendment and interpretation via caselaw. We offer up to the minute analysis on the applicable laws.

Experience

We have extensive experience advising in all areas of Public Law including:

  • Detailed advices on the Freedom of Information Act
  • Detailed submissions for clients addressing requests for disclosure of records or statements of reasons for acts affecting certain persons (including on the grounds of confidentiality and commercial sensitivity) or on consultation with a third party under Section 29 of the Act.
  • Appeals to the Information Commissioner (from whom there is limited recourse to the High Court).
  • Detailed advices and draft text and submissions pursuant to the information entitlements for underbidders and others pursuant to the EC Directives on Public Procurement and the European Communities Act, 1972 (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations, 1998 (and its predecessors) and advising on these overlapping jurisdictions.
  • Advising on the foregoing matters and “personal information” (Section 28 of the 1997 Act) in the context of national and EC Data Protection Law.
  • Detailed advices on the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001.
  • Filings for purposes of the Ethics in Public Office Acts and the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001.
  • Operation of Government Guidelines for State Bodies (1992) and Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2001).