Our activities range from arbitration to corporate restructuring and outsourcing; from extensive studies on regulatory topics to data protection issues and pharmacy licence applications.
Each case has its own significance and is handled by us with the utmost commitment. Our focus is on achieving the best possible solution. It is a matter of course for us to work at the highest professional level and to provide individual and personal client management and representation.
As a small law firm with a lean structure and a network of partners, we are able and committed to carry out our services not only with the utmost care, but also with the greatest efficiency.
Our extensive activities in the telecommunications sector range from m&a transactions, litigation and arbitration, and contractual issues, to consultation and representation in various regulatory issues. The focus is on infrastructure regulation, competition regulation, interconnection procedures, NGN, price regulation, frequency regulation, added value services, billing and collecting, numbering, universal services and the review of general terms and conditions. An important part of our activities is producing reports, studies and position papers to support our clients’ interests at home and abroad.
Examples include a study on the introduction of frequency trading in Austria, a spectrum pricing policy for a regulatory authority in the Middle East, an analysis of different privatization approaches for a client in South-East Europe, as well as a regulatory strategy implementation report for a regulatory authority in South-East Europe. Finally, we broadly assist companies with their market entry and roll-out activities in this sector.
At the beginning of this century, a relaxation of broadcasting regulations made private terrestrial radio and private terrestrial television possible in Austria. Since then, a number of local, regional and national private radio and television broadcasters have been established. In recent years, various digital multiplex platforms for broadcasting Austria-wide and regional digital terrestrial television stations have been founded.
We represent radio and television broadcasters and multiplex operators in licensing procedures and other regulatory proceedings before the Austrian regulatory authority. Another focus of our practices in broadcasting law is advising our clients on the increasing convergence of services across different platforms (cable, satellite, terrestrial and the internet).
In 2011, the Austrian postal market was liberalised. However, the new legislation has, de facto, not led to increased competition.
We advise national and international postal service providers on regulated-sector-specific issues, such as licensing, universal services, sector-specific commitments and competition regulation.
After the liberalization of the European energy market and the implementation of the resulting legislation in Austria, the main legal issues were in the fields of restructuring and competition. With the amendments of the national ElWOG 2010 and the GWG 2011, inter alia, the existing unbundling regime has been extended in accordance with the third, and most recent, EU liberalization package. Various unbundling models for transmission operators have been integrated in the energy regulations of ElWOG 2010 and GWG 2011 and the mandatory implementation of a yearly network plan (focused on the following ten years) under the supervision of the regulatory authority has been constituted. Furthermore, statutory ordinances of the Minister of Economic Affairs and the regulatory authority have been incorporated in ElWOG 2010 and GWG 2011 to determine and decide on the introduction of “smart meters“ as future “enablers“ of “smart homes“ and “smart grids“. The particular consequential legal issues are in connection with the expansion of infrastructure and the increased utilisation of information and communication technologies vs. data protection, with the aim of achieving enhanced consumer integration.
In advising energy companies, we utilise our expertise in telecommunications as well as in the field of data protection and IT. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this subject, we increasingly co-operate with our partners on regulatory and technical issues to ensure that we encompass the complex field of “energy law”.
In the telecommunications and IT sector the outsourcing of business processes, either through near-shoring or off-shoring, has been a common practice for many years. We support suppliers and service providers in this sector in structuring projects, negotiating contracts and implementation.
The telecommunications and IT sector is a fast paced field of practice, undergoing rapid and short term changes, which requires the restructuring of our clients’ companies from time to time. We advise and assist our clients throughout the restructuring process. One recent example is the corporate reorganisation, including MBO, of an IT service provider.
Our clients are IT suppliers and IT service providers in the areas of business IT, operator IT and telematics. We assist our clients in the set up of complex license-, supply- and project contracts (outsourcing, ASP, hosting and housing, maintenance of hard- and software, purchase and development of software etc.) and we represent them in any disputes which may arise.
An example of our activities is the extensive legal advice given to an Austrian ICT company in developing a cloud solution.
Data Protection – E-Commerce
The utilisation of personal data is part of the daily operations of many companies in various practice areas. Due to conflicts of interest between the consideration of data as an “economic commodity” to be included in business calculations and the steady sharpening of consumer rights awareness, the secure and legal use of personal data has become an indispensable part of daily (business) life. Also, legal efforts in Europe to create Union-wide Data Protection Regulation, attest the actual relevance of this field of law.
We advise on all legal matters relating to the use of personal data by an organisation according to the regulations in DSG 2000 and as part of the special data protection regulations, in particular, in TKG 2003 (keywords: “cookies“, “data breach notification“, e-mail-advertising and data retention). Our data protection consultation focus also includes advice on the legal issues as part of the introduction to ICT (keyword: “smart metering“).
For companies operating in e-commerce, the use of personal data is inevitable in most business models. We advise these companies from the conception of their business models to the formulation of contracts and general terms and conditions, including the legal use of personal data, e.g. for “profiling” and the completion and settlement of individual e-commerce transactions. Furthermore, we advise providers of information society services on compliance with the obligations of the E-Commerce-Act (ECG) and its specific liability provisions for access and host providers.
For many years, the focus of our activities has been on extrajudicial dispute settlement, mediation, litigation and arbitration. Special focus is on the procedures of telecommunication providers and IT service providers.
Many of these procedures are characterised by a close relation of legal issues to complex technical and economic matters that need to be solved by experts.We particularly utilise our broad knowledge of the industries to comprehensively represent and advise our clients in national and international arbitration, which are matters of great importance involving large dispute sums.
An outstanding example of our work in this area is the arbitration between the Danish consortium TDC/Great Northern and TPSA, that ended with a settlement in 2012 which brought our client EUR 550 million, after ten years of continuous processes. In another important procedure, we represented several Austrian telecom operators before the ECJ in a sales-tax trial.
Economic Administrative Law
In the broad scope of the general administrative law and economic administrative law, our focus is on industrial and pharmacy law.
In the field of pharmacy law, we advise on all issues that may arise in connection with the operation of a public pharmacy. As they have a practical relevance, we also advise in neighbouring fields such as pharmaceutical and medical law, as well as corporate law that relates to pharmacies.
In the field of industrial law, besides small and medium-size enterprises, we also assist individuals in a variety of legal issues. These range from general licensing procedures to consultation concerning the performance of continuous operation rights. Furthermore, we provide legal advice in hunting law.