Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012
Isabel Foley
Firm:
Office:
Ten Earlsfort Terrace
D02 T380
City:
Dublin
Country:
Ireland
Tel:
+353 (0)1 920 1153
Fax:
+353 (0)1 920 1020

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Life Sciences

Isabel is a partner in Arthur Cox’s litigation and dispute resolution department; heads the product liability/safety group; and co-heads the food and drink group. Her principal areas of practice are product liability, product safety and commercial disputes. Isabel advises on product liability/product safety issues including risk management, product recall and crisis management. On the commercial side, she advises on general corporate disputes, public law, regulatory compliance, the restructuring of the financial services sector, financial products disputes, property disputes and competition disputes. She is also a CEDR-accredited mediator.

ARE THERE ANY SECTOR-SPECIFIC CHALLENGES FACED BY PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCT LIABILITY LITIGATIONS?

Innovation, R&D, the need to keep developing new products, regulation; risk/benefit analyses, and state-of-the-art considerations are complex issues particularly relevant in the pharma sector. Communicating these effectively in multiparty, multi-jurisdictional litigation (against a backdrop of extensive public debate and media coverage) can be challenging.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER FOCUSING ON DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THE LIFE SCIENCES AREA?

There is great satisfaction in getting to the other side of a dispute and delivering a result for your client. Regulated industries bring extra challenges; this, and a general interest in all things medical, led me to focus on life sciences.

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S REVIEW OF THE PRODUCT LIABILITY DIRECTIVE TO IMPACT YOUR PRACTICE AND THE MARKET AS A WHOLE?

If it is to be future-proof and embrace the innovative technologies under discussion, it will bring exciting new challenges for producers and lawyers, and more litigation.

ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES CURRENTLY FACING LIFE SCIENCES LAWYERS?

The uncertainty around Brexit – particularly the life sciences regulatory regime and the movement of people between the UK and Europe.

HOW DOES YOUR EXPERTISE IN PUBLIC LAW AND JUDICIAL REVIEW PROCEEDINGS ENHANCE YOUR LIFE SCIENCE PRACTICE?

Understanding the requirements of administrative law and procedures allows me to guide clients through their engagement with regulators, and to ensure that regulators operate within acceptable parameters.

YOU’VE BEEN PRACTISING WITH ARTHUR COX SINCE 1989. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE FIRM THAT HAS MOTIVATED YOU TO PRACTISE THERE FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS?

Since I joined, there has been enormous change and growth at the firm but we have always maintained our core values, our commercially focused approach to our clients’ legal needs and a collegiate working environment.

AS HEAD OF THE FIRM’S PRODUCT LIABILITY AND SAFETY PRACTICE, HOW DO YOU SEE IT DEVELOPING OVER THE COMING YEARS?

The practice may become more sector-focused, given increasing regulation and specialisation. The outcome of the Commission’s review of the Product Liability Directive will likely bring new opportunities. Class actions may come back on the agenda. The proposed new product safety package with regulations on consumer product safety and market surveillance, once finalised, will herald a new era. There is likely to be much activity on that front for everyone in the supply chain.

WHAT WOULD YOU PINPOINT AS YOUR CAREER HIGHLIGHT TO DATE?

My work as part of the Arthur Cox multidisciplinary team appointed by the Minister for Finance in 2008 to advise on the financial crisis. The restructuring that took place in Ireland was effected through emergency, ground-breaking legislation and a series of heavily contested court processes and challenges.

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