Navigating An Era Of Increased Regulation: Competition, Data And Privacy, Financial Advisory Services And Tax



Established in 1825 in Dublin, Ireland and with offices in Cork, London, New York, Palo Alto and San Francisco, more than 700 people work across Matheson’s six offices, including 96 partners and tax principals and over 470 legal and tax professionals. Matheson services the legal needs of internationally focused companies and financial institutions doing business in and from Ireland. Our clients include over half of the world’s 50 largest banks, 6 of the world’s 10 largest asset managers, 7 of the top 10 global technology brands and we have advised the majority of the Fortune 100.
This Knowledge Insights event, held on 10 April, was moderated by Dr Irene Lynch Fannon, Head of Knowledge Management at Matheson. Irene was in conversation with Matheson partners...
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This Knowledge Insights event, held on 10 April, was moderated by Dr Irene Lynch Fannon, Head of Knowledge Management at Matheson. Irene was in conversation with Matheson partners: Calum Warren (Competition and Regulation); Carlo Salizzo (Technology and Innovation); and Tomás Bailey (Tax); and senior associate, Aishlinn Gannon (Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution). Their wide-ranging conversation focussed on regulation and its significance across a number of different practice areas at Matheson LLP.

The genesis of the event

It is now widely acknowledged that there is an increasing trend towards regulation across all practice areas in the firm. This is due to three primary drivers. First, a maturing of the economy after the financial crisis, second, the emergence of a new constitutional dimension in key areas, and finally, a correction of the tendency towards under regulation in Ireland. Many of these developments have an EU law dimension. There has also been increased knowledge sharing across the different regulatory regimes with a view to standardising practices. This is now manifested in an increase in regulatory activity and collaboration across teams within the firm.

Typical work scenarios across the practice areas

Calum Warren explained that work in his group involves engaging with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the "CCPC") in respect of M&A regulatory filings, the European Commission and the Department of Communications. Foreign and investment screening work is managed by the Department of Enterprise while other partner regulatory bodies include ComReg and Coimisiún na Meán, which regulates broadcasting and online media in Ireland, the national transport agency, and the European Commission. A typical scenario involves responding to information requests, onsite inspections and helping clients with their aftermath including advising on how to respond to them, engaging with the regulator, running parallel internal investigations and audits and engaging with other colleagues depending on the sector.

Aishlinn Gannon works with clients who engage with the Central Bank's administrative sanctions procedure. Of late, legal privilege (a topic which we considered in a recent knowledge event, a recording of which is available on our Knowledge Hub) has become an important issue for consideration. Matheson also has a lot of experience in advising clients on how to monitor compliance issues, record breaches, report policies, proactively manage timelines and decision-making processes, record decisions, and monitoring where information is stored and who has access to it.

Carlo Salizzo works in the non-contentious world to ensure that, when an incident does occur, clients are in the best possible position should an investigation ensue. Prevention is a big part of what the team does. Risk mitigation in this area is reflected across practice areas in the regulatory sphere more generally.

Tomás Bailey explained that new international standards have been introduced recently in tax law which have resulted in greater collaboration between tax administrations and the greater involvement of supranational regulatory bodies. This has driven a change in the relationship between the tax subject and regulator. Three main themes characterise this development. First, data and compliance is now a bigger piece of the tax subject's activity. Accuracy in compliance is now critical, with information exchange being the norm. Second, the Irish Revenue Commissioners historically had a consultative role and pre-approval was possible. Now the point of engagement occurs at a later date, post-transaction. This leads to greater potential for dispute and appeals. Finally, documentation is now more important than ever, resulting in more emphasis on disclosure and legal privilege.

Key legislative and regulatory developments

The most significant legislative change that will affect the Data Protection Commission is the fact that Coimisiún na Meán is now empowered under the Digital Services Act and related legislation to take actions against providers of content. The hope is that these agencies will work together to create efficiencies, but the fear is that having two overlapping regimes could have the potential to double the compliance burden. Fundamental rights are at the heart of data protection legislation and, in the event of a conflict, it may be that data protection rights will prevail. Regulators have formed a Digital Regulators Group which functions as a forum for cooperation. The European Commission has proposed a new Regulation designed to put procedures in place to assist the work of various supervisory and data protection agencies throughout Europe where there is a cross-border dimension. This is probably the most controversial aspect of the GDPR.

There are a number of important pieces of legislation in the area of competition regulation. These are the Screening of Third Country Transactions Act 2023, the Competition (Amendment) Act 2022 and the dual commencement of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022 and the Digital Services Act 2024 which give a range of competences to Coimisiún na Meán to regulate traditional broadcasters as well as online video-sharing platforms and online platforms.

In tax matters, Ireland implemented a new global tax rate on 31 December 2023 and we discussed the importance of The Individual Accountability Framework legislation for financial services during previous insights events.

For a complete account of this conversation please see the link to the recorded webinar here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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