Media Law

Our media practice has proven expertise in defamation, freedom of expression, privacy and contempt law. We represent clients who are looking to protect their good name and those who wish to exercise their right to freedom of expression. Both fundamental rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights, but conflicts frequently arise. We have advised in a number of notable cases in recent years where the courts have focused on reconciling these fundamental rights.

We have many years’ experience at the leading edge of defamation, privacy and contempt law. For many years we have represented The Irish Times. We have also advised a number of private citizens in litigation to vindicate their good names and reputations.

We apply our deep knowledge of this complex and fascinating area of law on behalf of publishers, authors, film makers and website owners. We provide pre-publication legal advice on books, biographies, contemporary writing and other written projects. We advise on film scripts both before and during filming and have advised on numerous documentaries and TV advertisements. Together with our corporate and commercial colleagues we advise on media contracts, copyright, broadcasting licence applications and the use of the Internet as a modern medium of communication.


Our services cover:

  • Defamation
  • Pre-publication advices
  • Post-publication litigation
  • Vindication and protection of individuals
  • Constitutional and convention rights
  • Films and documentaries
  • Books, fiction and non fiction
  • Media rights
  • Internet and electronic contracts
  • Contempt
  • Advertising and standards compliance.


Hayes’ Media Law practice advises across the spectrum of this dynamic area of law. Some examples of our work include:

  • Advising NewsBrands Ireland (formerly National Newspapers of Ireland), the representative body for national and regional newspapers in the country, on a diverse range of media matters
  • Representing Donal Kinsella in defamation litigation against Kenmare Resources PLC. Following a six-day hearing before a High Court Judge and Jury, Mr Kinsella was awarded a landmark record sum of €10 million by the jury.
  • Acting for Irish Times Editor Geraldine Kennedy and Public Affairs Correspondent Colm Keena in their successful Supreme Court appeal where they established a journalist’s rights to protect his or her sources. The legal arguments invoked successfully on behalf of Ms Kennedy and Mr Keena relied heavily on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Despite the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the appeal and reverse the earlier High Court decision, the Supreme Court went on to order that Ms Kennedy and Mr Keena should pay the costs of the ultimately unsuccessful respondents, Mahon Tribunal, in both the High Court and the Supreme Court. The decision to award the costs against the successful parties in the Supreme Court remains the subject of an application on behalf of Ms Kennedy and Mr Keena to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Submissions by both parties are under consideration by the ECHR
  • Providing clients with workshops and lectures on contempt of court issues arising from court reporting and on defamation generally
  • Advising publishers and authors on contractual matters. The practice has particular expertise in biographical and autobiographical projects, including Harry Browne’s controversial The Frontman: Bono (In the name of Power) and Eamon Dunphy’s autobiography On the Rocky Road due to be published by Penguin Books shortly, , (on which pending publication we are of course restricted in our comments)
  • Advising Touchpaper Television, part of the Zodiak Media Group, in providing a legal overview on Charlie, a major three part-television drama project on aspects of the life of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey. The show aired on RTE One in January 2015. Our work involved all aspects of the production from considering the original script to viewing the final cut of each episode
  • Advising one of two bidders for the Donegal North FM franchise in a competitive assessment carried out by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). Hayes work involved advising this newly formed consortium entity on its corporate structure as well as preparing all bid documents, advising on compliance with BAI requirements and on strategic industry issues. Advised the client at oral presentations of the bid before the BAI.

What clients say: Media Law