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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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Wendy Hederman takes us through a day of legal complexities behind the internet and telecommunications regulations.

07/7.30am Hope that the wake-up calls from my daughter coincide more or less with the radio kicking into life. Listen to Morning Ireland as I get my two-year old daughter, Rosanna, and myself up, washed, dressed and filled with a moderately healthy breakfast by 8.20am ‚€‘ the timing of this part of the day depends enormously on the co-operativeness or otherwise of a toddler ‚€‘ thankfully she‚€ôs keen to get to playschool today. Walk Rosanna to her playschool and on to the office before 9.00am without worries about traffic, as we live off Appian Way, a very manageable 10 minutes‚€ô walk from the office.

9.00am Check my voicemails, e-mails and diary for of the day. Two client meetings, an in-house lunch and a lot of legal tasks are on the agenda

Next is to check the web-site of the Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation (the ODTR) for any new decisions, or consultation documents. Since the Minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O‚€ôRourke decided just one year ago to bring forward the liberalisation deadline, the pace of change in the regulatory environment has beendramatic. The licensing regime has been put in place before December 1, 1998 and now the other pieces of the jigsaw, such as universal service obligation, separate cost accounting, numbering, satellite licensing, and achieving fair interconnection are being put in place. The output from the ODTR has been phenomenal and has dramatically increased the workload on specialist telecommunications advisers.

And then to the post, both paper and electronic. Reply to some e-mails, dictate a few short faxes and correct a letter of advice dictated yesterday on a supply agreement.

10.05am Drop these with Clare, my secretary. Call into the office of Tony Burke, partner in charge of the Commercial Department. We go through a couple of issues which have arisen on current files, in particular those in relation to a client‚€ôs bid for a wireless local loop licence. These licences will be awarded by the ODTR after a competitive tendering process. The deadline for submitting bids is fast approaching and will require considerable time input over the next few days.

10.20am Between now and 11.30 is my main chance of the day to review and amend a software licence agreement and standard trading conditions for a US company setting up a European base in Ireland. Their agreements need to be made suitable for use in Europe, and subject to Irish law. I mark the amendments on the text of the Agreement e-mailed to me, highlighting the changes and adding comments as I go, so that I can e-mail the text back to the US lawyers before the end of the day.

11.30am Rob Corbet, of our e-commerce unit and I meet with a representative from the Irish Hotels Federation regarding a project with the Irish Times. The proposal is to include an accommodation section on the new Ireland.com portal site, and to have the vast majority of Irish Hotels Federation members accessible on line through this site. Already the Irish Times site has established itself as the most significant gateway for enquiries on Ireland. Our client‚€ôs main concerns are with the content of the site, security issues and the formation of contracts on line. We advise on how existing laws will apply to individual on-line hotel bookings. The client needs a draft agreement within the next few days.

1pm In-house lunch with the Commercial Department. This involves an overview of current work, major projects, new business and practice development. Today the majority of the meeting is taken up with the publication and launch of Mason Hayes & Curran‚€ôs new book Telecommunications Law in Ireland. The final text has gone to the publishers early in the week, reflecting the law as it stands at 1 May 1999, and the book will be launched by the Minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O‚€ôRourke.

2.30pm Go to client‚€ôs office for a meeting on a couple of current telecommunications issues. The company which is well established in the internet business, has a constant demand for legal input on commercial arrangements and ongoing regulatory advice. The primary topic for today‚€ôs meeting is considering the ODTR‚€ôs consultation paper no. 99/25 on interconnection for calls destined for internet services. The client‚€ôs response to the ODTR must marry the legal and regulatory aspects with the technical and commercial issues on interconnection. The client takes the opportunity to run some proposed changes in their standard service agreement past me, and to give me a copy of a draft outsourcing agreement as ‚€útake home‚€Ě reading.

4.10pm Back to the office. Respond to urgent voice-mails and an e-mail from UK lawyers we are working with on a joint venture for a telecommunications project. These queries centre mainly on competition law, merger control and other regulatory approvals required for the joint venture‚€ôs activities.

4.45pm Sign off on letters from earlier in the day, respond to further e-mails, and ask Michael, my assistant, to check an issue on EU copyright law for the US company‚€ôs software licence agreement, and start into the work arising from my two meetings of earlier today.

5.30pm Now the most difficult part of the day ‚€‘ sorting my desk and myself in order to leave the office by 5.50, so that I can collect Rosanna from the childminder by 6pm. Two faxes to send, a tape to finish off and leave for the evening secretary, a brief word with one of my colleagues about a meeting tomorrow morning, and select the necessary papers for work later this evening.
5.45pm A client phones with some immediate issues on a contract negotiation. I transfer the call across to my mobile, so that I can continue the discussion as I head out of the office.

6 ‚€‘ 8.30pm This is dedicated family time. With my husband working this year in Tralee, County Kerry from Monday to Friday ‚€‘ a seemingly unavoidable part of pursuing higher medical training in Ireland ‚€‘ I do my best to keep work interruptions in the early evening to a minimum.

8.30pm 10.30 ‚€‘ 12.00 Thanks to my remote access to the office network, including to word-processing and the precedent bank, I can now spend useful hours on my home computer doing a first draft of the Agreement for the Irish Hotels Federation, and a redraft of a Distribution Agreement for another client. It‚€ôs finally time to switch off for the day.

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