Green Shoots, Legal Protection for Business, and the Dangers of Social Media

If you are in the dark on certain legal requirements of your business, then William J. Brennan’s offer to come and meet your business for a free consultation onsite for up to two hours is an opportunity you can’t pass up.

Mr Brennan explained what this can consist of. “We can discuss all kinds of issues—it’s always a good idea for a firm to have an insight into potential legal issues they may face. Commerce and law overlap to a very large extent; it’s good to know if you are lacking in the area of health and safety—is there something you can do to be more compliant? Are you protected if there is an accident? Your lease on your premises may be due for renewal: if you renegotiate, say, one year before it’s due to expire, you may get more favourable terms; that’s something we can help you with. If you are taking on a new lease, you may forget to negotiate a break option, which could prove costly later on. You might need a rent-free period at the start to get the premises fitted. If you have a business you should be strategising around information you are getting from a solicitor to be better prepared and, potentially, you can get better commercial returns in certain situations by knowing where you stand legally.”

William J. Brennan originally came from a farming and construction background in Drumree, Co. Meath. “I studied commerce in UCD. I found that while a lot of that was gearing towards accountancy there was quite a bit of law involved, and that was an area that really interested me. 

I felt that the law aspect was more orientated towards dealing with people than the accountancy. So people’s issues of a legal nature that they were trying to deal with—that was something that I thought would suit me better. Hence, I went and trained to become a solicitor, and after I qualified I never looked back. Running a solicitor’s practice utilises the commerce background regularly—I’m a lawyer on a daily basis, but I’m a business person as well at the same time.”

Mr Brennan initially worked with a firm called Binchys from 1998 to 2005. That firm was taken over by an international firm called Maples and Calder. He stayed with them for two years, and then went out with a few of the staff to set up on their own.

“We started up a practice, mainly based in Ashbourne and with a small office in Dublin. Shortly after, one of my previous colleagues from Binchys, Hugh McGroddy, joined up,” explained Mr Brennan. The firm grew from a handful to around 20 staff today. They have premises on Dublin’s Merrion Street, and serve a wide range of clients. 

What the Company Offers

William J. Brennan & Co. (http://www.williamjbrennan.com) are a full service firm, providing advice on property and conveyancing, probate and wills, company, family and employment law, general litigation, and dispute resolution.

“We cover all the main areas. Presently we have a lot of work on social housing and related issues. We would be advising property management companies on social housing purchases and related tasks,” he said. 

“Our aim is to give practical advice—our main objective at all times is to find a solution for our clients. Oftentimes a solution would not end up in a contracted court case. So you try to find a solution for somebody perhaps by alternative means, such as dispute resolution or mediation, to get people a result—the fees have to be at a level that is practical and palatable. They need to have some bearing on the actual extent of the problem they are dealing with. For example, we have set fees for tasks such as property purchases and sales,” explained Mr Brennan, who reiterated: “Our main aim is to provide good advice, to have solutions that may require innovative ways of dealing with issues. We think outside the box; our clients need to understand our fees and realise and feel that they are getting good value for their money.”

Main Issues they are Seeing

Mr Brennan says that at William J. Brennan & Co., they are seeing an increase in activity in the property market at the moment. Many people are enquiring about conveyancing, which is the transfer of the legal title of property from one person to another. Others are planning ahead and getting their wills seen to. Probate, or the administration of an estate (perhaps for an elderly person who has passed away), is another area that has seen increased activity.

Dispute resolution and personal injury matters have also increased in activity lately. 

“An encouraging area of activity is in the sphere of business, with new company set-ups, shareholder agreements, and partnerships,” says Mr Brennan, who’s firm is involved in the area of ‘due diligence’—research and analysis carried out before a business is sold or an investment is made in a business. “Some companies unfortunately are having problems getting paid, and this is another area William J. Brennan can help their clients,” he says.

Internet and Social Media

Many of us use the internet and social media every day, but may be unaware of the legal aspects to such media. “I have had a client come in to me who has had problems with people using social media in a negative way, to essentially cause damage to another person. We have been taking instructions to potentially look at a court application to restrict a Twitter account,” said Mr Brennan, who elaborated on other digital aspects his firm deals with.

“People may need protection if they are being ill-treated through the use of social media. 

“Companies that have websites need to have a privacy policy that ensures that the data protection laws are adhered to. They will also need a cookie policy if their website takes information from their users in the form of cookies. 

“With the website you should also have a number of disclaimers because third parties might try to use your platform to spread viruses, so you need a set of terms and conditions that regulates your contract with the public; all of this is important,” he says.

Green Shoots

“I see the construction industry in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow enhancing a bit. There is more development and building happening. That should create more jobs, not having a construction industry in the economy for five years was most unusual; it’s a very important part of any economy. That should help all businesses especially those directly connected with the construction trade—I see that as a positive.

“I still feel that people don’t have that much money in their pockets; there is a constant squeeze on consumer spending. The government needs to think about allowing people to have more disposable income. I think we are now in better terms with our debt rating in the country. With our tax rate, Ireland is still looked upon positively for inward investment from multinationals at this time. We are the only English-speaking country with the euro, with good infrastructure…we should be getting more inward investment. The main objective is to capitalise on what we have to create an economic model that is sustainable, and that grows at a maintainable rate,” said Mr Brennan.

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