Interview: Mark Thorne, Dillon Eustace

04 May 2020 | 03.00 pm

Interview: Mark Thorne, Dillon Eustace

'We have a reputation for delivering timely and constructive advice'

04 May 2020 | 03.00 pm

Funds, property, and banking powered growth at Dillon Eustace, according to managing partner Mark Thorne (pictured)

What has activity been like for your firm over the last year?

Our Financial Regulation and Regulatory Investigations department has shown substantial growth as the Central Bank of Ireland and regulators increase their attention and focus on both authorisation and supervision matters. In particular, we have seen an expansion of the number of defined functions requiring Central Bank approval, an increasing focus on fitness and probity investigations, as well as greater focus on senior accountability regimes. All of these changes have led to a larger amount of referral work for our highly regarded team. 

On the funds side, where we continue to be the leading Irish legal advisor, the year has seen increased diversity in the location of the fund promoter and also increased activity in the ETF space.

Our funds, property, and banking departments have seen strong growth, and in particular a high degree of cross-departmental work from more overseas investment funds and non-bank lenders financing increasingly complex and sophisticated property and asset financing transactions.

Recent surveys suggest a dip in business optimism for the legal sector. What are your thoughts on that?

We would not have shared this perception, given the level of new financial services firms establishing in Ireland after Brexit and the increasingly complex nature of property and banking finance work. Irish lending institutions now more than ever need more specialised advice, given the increasing use of Irish Fund vehicles, which our financial services teams provide.   

Will the arrival of new players from abroad become a significant competitive threat for you?

We have always competed in an international market in terms of legal services, so the competition is not really new. That said, hopefully the level of new entrants will create additional focus on Ireland and lead to additional work.

How competitive/flexible is the legal sector regarding fees?

Our approach with clients has been a benefit. We are lucky to have developed and continue to maintain long-term relationships based on trust over time, and a range of billing and added value offerings across the board. This, tied in with technological and work practice enhancement, has meant we are able to offer clients an attractive proposition. 

What gives your legal teams a competitive edge?

We have a very strong international client base and a reputation for commercial, timely and constructive advice delivered in a collaborative fashion. We are lucky to have clients who appreciate that over time we assist them achieve their business objectives and support them when they need it most.

What were your most notable client deals in 2019?

The Project Circle transaction was one such deal, as it involved a cross-departmental team that included lawyers from funds, tax, banking, construction and real estate in the establishment of a fund vehicle, and the financing and property work on acquiring over 200 apartment units across 27 separate properties in one transaction.  

Our much reported and successful defence of the Sunday Business Post in the defamation action brought by businessman Denis O’Brien, arising from articles published in the newspaper in April 2015, was a significant one. The case ran for 17 days in the High Court before a judge and a jury and was heralded as a significant win — not only for our client but the print media in general — and was testament to our long-standing expertise in this area.

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