Technology Northern Ireland

The Practice

Historically one of Ireland’s most innovative law firms, unsurprisingly Arthur Cox has one of Northern Ireland’s foremost technology practices. The practice is an integral part of the firm, and draws on the expertise of lawyers in the fields of intellectual property, media, telecommunications, data protection and e-Commerce.

We act for many of Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Ireland’s emerging and established technology companies in addition to major US and European companies operating in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Expertise

The Technology Group in Belfast advise on all aspects of information technology and e-Business law:

E-Business

Arthur Cox continues to have a strong practice in the area of e-business. We represent large and small companies in all legal aspects of their online business either via public networks such as the Internet or via private secure electronic networks.

Legally Compliant Websites

Typically our advisory work includes assisting our clients in establishing and operating a legally compliant online offering. In light of the emerging United Kingdom and European legislation in the area of online contracts, we are regularly engaged in ensuring that any goods or services offered by means of distance communication are in compliance with Northern Ireland law or European law as appropriate. To this end, we regularly advise on the following areas to help our clients reduce the legal risks often associated with the Internet:

  • Online contracts (terms and conditions, online subscription agreements, concluding a valid online sale)
  • Electronic signatures
  • Regulation (consumer protection law, contract law and existing and emerging e-commerce legislation)
  • Interactive television (see our Media and Entertainment Group)
  • How to monetise websites
  • Legal requirements to display certain information on websites
  • Retention and admissibility of electronic information

Privacy and Data Protection

In recent years our practice in the area of data protection and privacy has expanded significantly. We regularly advise on the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 in Northern Ireland and its implications on our client’s business. We are vastly experienced in advising on all aspects of online security and privacy including:

  • Notification requirements to the Information Commissioner under the Data Protection Act 1998 in the United Kingdom
  • Data transfer and interchange agreements
  • Exporting data outside of the European Economic Area
  • Digital signatures
  • Privacy Polices
  • Direct marketing and unsolicited commercial communications
  • Personal data in the context of insolvency
  • Monitoring employee Internet and email use

Security

We act for companies engaged in the provision of remote payment services and for those offering security tools to the online industry. Linked to our data protection expertise is our ability to advise on the more complex aspects of:

  • The use, import and export of encryption products
  • Contracts between online merchants and acquiring and issuing banks
  • Disaster recovery policies and procedures

For more on our expertise in the area of system delivery, outsourcing, software development and licensing, visit our Information Technology Transactions section below.

Sector Specific Issues

The diversity of our client base has meant that we have gained experience over the years in the more highly regulated sectors. We pride ourselves in providing solutions within the restraints of the online regulatory framework. For example, our expertise cover:

  • Online banking
  • Gaming, lotteries and interactive betting
  • The online travel industry
  • Internet Service Providers
  • Telecommunications operators (see our Communications and Broadcasting Group)
  • Broadcasting, media and entertainment (see our Media and Entertainment Group)
  • Wireless and mobile commerce

Public Sector

We have been successful in being awarded many public sector contracts in the areas of e-Business and technology. To this end, our Technology Group liaises with our colleagues in our Projects and PPP/PFI Groups and other appropriate Groups to advise on specific public sector issues such as:

  • Outsourcing contracts for IT systems and services
  • Governmental broadband initiatives
  • E-Government initiatives
  • E-Procurement

Information Technology

Our Information Technology (IT) practitioners advise on all aspects of information technology law including in relation to the design, installation and maintenance of sophisticated IT systems for our clients. The IT practice is an integral part of the overall Technology Practice, and draws on the expertise of lawyers within the Technology Practice, in the fields of intellectual property, media, telecommunications, data protection, and e-commerce. Our clients in the information technology area are divided between suppliers and users of information technology and we have a particular expertise in advising clients involved in the Public Private Partnership (“PPP”) procurement of Information Technology systems.

IT System Delivery

We assist clients in relation to the procurement and delivery of IT systems and services, which includes the procurement of servers, routers/switches, personal computers, networking solutions, encryption, software, firewalls, connectivity, bandwidth, back up and storage solutions, hosting capacity and wireless hardware.

Outsourcing and Facilities Management

The firm advises clients in relation to a range of services, ranging from full outsourcing to the provision of managed services. Services range from negotiation of supply agreements to working with our corporate/commercial colleagues in the negotiation of the IT aspects of large scale IT and business process outsourcing, which may include the establishment of joint ventures between customer and supplier. We also advise a range of suppliers of services, ranging from full outsourcing to managed services, and including co-location services.

Software Development and Distribution

We act for a broad range of domestic and international clients in relation to the development and distribution of software. Our practice covers the creation/ownership of software (advising on employee agreements, confidential disclosure agreements, consulting agreements, software development agreement and assignments), the provision of software to users (advising on beta test site, user licence, distribution and shrinkwrap agreements) and repair and improvements to software (Support and Maintenance Agreements and Escrow Agreements).

e-Commerce / e-Business

We act for a range of clients in relation to e-commerce business and transactions. Business areas in which we practise include web site development, hosting, and content management.

Data Protection and Privacy

We advise a range of clients, in both the online context and more traditional business models, in relation to data protection and privacy issues. These include issues relating to freedom of information legislation.

Computer Security, Fraud, and Software Piracy

Our IT practice liaises closely with our Litigation & Dispute Resolution and Employment and Industrial Relations  colleagues in advising clients in relation to IT security, fraud, and piracy issues. Also, we have developed a relationship with a number of IT security specialists, which assist in providing a speedy solution to what are generally urgent issues.

Public Procurement

We work with our Projects and PPP/PFI colleagues in advising clients in relation to public procurement law, practice, and procedure. In particular, we assist a number of public sector organisations and consortia in relation to long term, high value, IT projects and IT related programmes, which include a large element of public procurement work.

Dispute Resolution

We work with our Litigation and Dispute Resolution colleagues in order to assist clients in the resolution of disputes relating to IT projects and IT related programmes.

Intellectual Property

We also liaise with our specialists colleagues in the Intellectual Property Group in relation to particular intellectual property issues which arise, typically in relation to the management, enforcement, and commercialisation of intellectual property rights.

Human Resource Issues

The firm advises clients in relation to all aspects of human resource issues. In particular, we liaise with our Employment and Industrial Relations colleagues in relation to review of employment terms and advice to employers in relation to authorised use of company computer resources. In addition, we liaise with our Employment colleagues in relation to staff transfer issues, which arise, frequently in relation to outsourcing transactions or corporate strategic alliances.

Experience

Our e-Business clients are diverse in size and come from a range of different industries and include early start up companies developing new electronic means of conducting business and established blue chip companies setting up new channels for the sale of the products and services via electronic means. We have particular experience in the more highly regulated areas where we seek to provide innovative legal solutions for our clients. For example, we have acted for clients engaged in the provision of innovative online gambling services and for interactive financial institutions. We have unrivalled experience in advising on the complex legal issues that can arise in the area of mobile commerce.

On the supply side, the firm acts for a range of multi-national and national suppliers in the areas of software development, software licensing, outsourcing, and professional service supply. On the user side, our clients are divided between the public and private sector. Our private sector clients tend to be larger users engaging in substantial IT projects and IT related programmes. These projects and programmes generally include software development, software licensing, and some degree of outsourcing or facilities management. In our public sector practice we liaise closely with our colleagues in the Projects and PPP/PFI Groups.

The firm has developed a pro-active approach, which involves working closely with our clients, both on the supply and user side. This approach includes providing a full service in connection with all IT and IT related projects and programmes. We believe in working side by side with our clients in order to resolve and manage issues which arise during IT projects/programmes.

Information Technology

  • Principal advisers to University College Dublin in respect of all Information Technology matters.
  • Advising Dublin Institute for Advanced Studieson all aspects of its Supercomputer project.
  • Advising Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (NI) & Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (ROI) on all aspects of their joint procurement of a service provider to establish international telecommunications connectivity between the north-west of the island of Ireland and the USA & mainland Europe, using submarine and terrestrial infrastructure.
  • Advising DETI on all aspects of its procurement of an entity to provide a broadband telecommunications service in remote areas of Northern Ireland not served by other operators (using satellite or other technologies).
  • Sole legal advisors to DSD in relation to the procurement of medical services which will support the social welfare and benefits system in Northern Ireland, a project which involves complex IT aspects, including support and maintenance arrangements, provision of advanced Information Systems Infrastructure, the provision of a helpdesk and tri partite IP licensing arrangements.
  • Arthur Cox has recently been appointed to advise Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Northern Ireland Civil Service (jointly with DLA Piper) in relation to procurement/contract elements of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care (HSC) and the NICS ICT programmes, this involves the roll-out of a series of IT contracts and purchase of advanced infrastructure, together with accompanying Software.
  • Advising the Department of Finance and Personnel in relation to the NI Network Services contract.
  • Fujitsu: advising Fujitsu on the NICS e-HR Project to modernise the payroll and human resources management for the whole of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
  • Arthur Cox continues to advise the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (ROI) in relation to the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) Broadband Programme (ongoing since 2004) which aims to roll out broadband infrastructure to more than 100 towns in Ireland. This PPP project has been among the most high profile telecoms projects in the Republic of Ireland for a number of years and has involved two sequential procurement exercises aimed at appointing a concessionaire to operate, manage and maintain the network infrastructure over a lengthy period.
  • Advising eircom plc on its operations in Northern Ireland including advising on a bid by eircom to operate certain telecommunications infrastructure on an outsourced basis for Viridian.
  • Advising Treasury Holdings/Spencer Dock Development Company Limited on the outsourcing of the installation and management of a telecommunications network and associated infrastructure at the Spencer Dock residential and commercial development in Dublin’s docklands.
  • Advising Eircom as successful bidder on the Network NI Broadband Project (closed 2007) and in respect of the Tetra Project (closed April 2008).
  • Advising Chesterfield Developments on installation, operation and outsourcing of telecommunications infrastructure and facilities at the McDonagh Junction Commercial Complex in Kilkenny, Ireland.