OVERVIEW

Chris is one of the leading media and telecoms lawyers in the gulf region.

Chris has over 25 years’ experience as a lawyer including 10 years spent in the Middle East. He specializes in telecoms and technology law, in particular the liberalization and deregulation of the telecoms sector. As well as advising a wide range of commercial clients as purchasers of telecoms products and services, Chris has extensive experience working for major Middle East based carriers and service providers.

He has also worked as in-house regulatory counsel for major telecoms corporate clients. As well as acting for customer and carrier clients, Chris has also advised the telecoms regulators in both Oman and the UAE.

Experience

  • EASSy (East Africa Submarine Cable System): Member of the legal team advising the European Investment Bank (EIB) as financial stakeholder in the consortium for the new 10,500km East African sub-sea cable project; advice included reviewing and proposing amendments to the main Contract for Construction and the Consortium Agreement; the project was affected and delayed by commercial and national regulatory discussions which required a flexible approach to negotiating and contract drafting.
  • Vodafone Qatar:  drafting and advising on Vodafone’s Sub-sea Cable Landing Station Managed Access Agreement which reflects incumbent Qtel’s obligations to provide submarine cable landing station access to Vodafone pursuant to ictQATAR’s final determination in respect of “International Landing Station Facilities in Qatar” dated 18 May 2009.
  • PCCW/Awaser Consortium: Providing advice to the consortium between Awaser and Hong Kong-based PCCW in its bid for the second fixed line license in Oman.  This involved advising on the consortium arrangements and the bid process as well as providing support to the consortium in preparing the bid.
  • OmanTel: Advising the incumbent Omani telecoms carrier on its bid for the third mobile licence in Iran.  Advice included drafting and negotiating the consortium agreement; drafting the shareholders' agreement and the Technical Assistance Agreement and general commercial and corporate advice associated with the bid.
  • Oman Telecommunications Regulatory Authority:  Advising the Oman TRA on the compliance of Oman telecommunications regulations with the requirements of the Oman-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA); negotiating with the Office of the US Trade Representative; drafting amendments to the regulations to comply with the FTA.
  • Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat): Chris was the team leader advising Etisalat on legal and regulatory issues associated with its bid for the second fixed line licence in the Arab Republic of Egypt (which was withdrawn by the regulator at a late stage and so was not awarded).  The team was spread across the firm's Dubai, Cairo and London offices and encompassed strategic advice on telecoms regulatory issues including responsibility for assessing the draft licence, corporate, financing, infrastructure procurement and general commercial issues. 
  • Oman Telecom/Belgium Telecom: Chris led a team of lawyers advising one of the consortium bidders on its application for the second mobile licence in Qatar. Chris was responsible for the bid being compliant with the rules governing the bid, and for the drafting of Shareholders' Agreement (with assistance from external local counsel) and the Management Services Agreement, as well as the provision of high level strategic advice to the OmanTel executive on the structure of the bid. 
  • Nawras (Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company SAOC):  Providing advice to Nawras on various issues relating to interconnection and liberalisation of the telecommunications network in Oman.  Advising on various administrative law issues including potential review of determinations made by the regulator.
  • Australian Department of Defence: drafted, negotiated and advised on a Satellite Spectrum Access Agreement between Defence and members of the Commercial Television Australia industry i.e. free-to-air TV broadcasters.  The agreement governed the rights of Defence and the other parties to access and use the 7.2GHz band in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Vodafone Qatar: Advising client on Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Satellite Agreement with QNexus QSTP LLC, being an IT and telecoms service provider to the offshore oil and gas industry.
  • Yahoo! (Hong Kong) Limited: external legal counsel providing advice on Yahoos operations in Hong Kong and mainland China including regulatory advice on telecommunications licence requirements and on line gambling issues; encryption and security matters; trade mark infringement and domain name protection advice. 
  • Vodafone Qatar: Advising client on Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Agreement with QNexus QSTP LLC, being an IT and telecoms service provider to the offshore oil and gas industry.  Vodafone Qatar’s fixed licence allows it to offer satellite services, including VSAT.  The agreement provided for QNexus to utilize Vodafone’s fixed license to provide VSAT services for the oil and gas industry in Qatar, in particular to:
    • Procure and manage space segment inventory;
    • Design, deploy and maintain the earth segment;
    • Sell (as distributor) Vodafone Qatar’s VSAT and fixed line voice and broadband services; and
    • Bill and collect on behalf of Vodafone Qatar.
  • Vodafone Qatar: drafting and advising on Vodafone’s International Private Leased Circuit (IPLC) Agreement with confidential counterparty.
  • Nokia Corporation (Middle East): providing advice on a range of corporate and contracting issues concerning Nokia's operations in the Middle East, including a 91 point cross jurisdictional questionnaire on Mobile Internet Services; advice regarding online music store and map information services in Saudi Arabia.
  • BT Global Services: Appointed as the sole legal counsel in the Middle East in early 2009.  To date Chris has advised on various matters in Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE including a significant contract dispute with a joint venture partner.
  • Injaz Telecommunications (Oman):  Advising a newly licensed Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) on its reseller arrangements with the incumbent, as well as on a range of corporate law issues.
  • China Mobile (Hong Kong and Mainland China): provided ongoing legal and probity advice to China Mobile, the world's largest mobile telephone operator, on a wide range of legal, probity and regulatory matters.  In particular, Chris advised on the rollout, over a period of 2 years, of China Mobile's mobile internet project (Monternet), the largest of its type in the world.  Chris advised on numerous joint venture arrangements with foreign entities, regulatory issues, and general contract advice across a wide range of matters involving subcontractors and joint venture partners.  
  • AAPT (Australia): advised AAPT on the rollout of its CDMA telephone network.  Chris was team leader on a significant part of the project, namely the long term maintenance and support arrangements following on from the network rollout.  This was a significant matter which ran for more than 2 years and involved complex advice on long term obligations between the parties. 
  • AAPT: advised on the rollout by AAPT of its LMDS (wireless local loop) network.  Chris was the team leader for the negotiating and drafting documentation associated with long term support and maintenance obligations, as well as advising on certain aspects of the core network rollout agreement.  
  • Enron (India): team leader advising the telecommunications arm of Enron on the establishment of internet hubs and data centres in India, including drafting Peering and Interconnection Agreements, Network Exchange Participation Agreements and Systems implementation agreements. 

1. Vodafone Qatar – 15 months: Full time in-house regulatory counsel for Vodafone Qatar from March 2010 to May 2011, responsible for advising on the introduction of its fixed line service in the State of Qatar.  The central feature of the role was to formulate and execute a strategy to allow Vodafone to establish itself in the fixed line market in the presence of a quasi-government, long-term monopolist incumbent operator (Qtel, now Ooredoo).  A secondary role related to equipment and services procurement for the fixed network build-out. Key strands of work include advising Vodafone Qatar on:

  • Legal and regulatory advice to Vodafone on the proposed new Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN), including extensive submissions to regulator ictQATAR on Vodafone’s preferred options for structuring the network, the form of licence to be granted to QNBN Co. and the regulatory regime to govern QNBN Co.  The introduction of the QNBN proposal in mid-2010 cut across many of the fixed line negotiations and strategies of both Vodafone and Qtel, making the entry of Vodafone to the fixed line voice and broadband markets particularly challenging.
  • Fixed line Interconnection Agreement with Qtel
  • Fixed to fixed termination services agreement with Qtel
  • Fixed to fixed termination rate model and alternative Bill and Keep pricing model
  • Duct access negotiations and agreement for greenfield, brownfield and rural sites across Qatar
  • Drafting case for regulatory determination on duct access pricing
  • Interconnection link pricing
  • Dispute on inbound international rates
  • Dark fibre and bitstream access
  • Negotiating with and drafting agreement with holder of Passive Infrastructure Licence (developer UDC-Pearl) to gain access to UDC passive infrastructure assets
  • Negotiating with and drafting agreement with primary source fibre optic cable supplier

2. Dell Services Qatar – 2 years: Acting General Counsel role at Dell Services (previously Perot Systems) from May 2011 until May 2013, managing a team of 4 lawyers across two major medical institution projects.  Dell Services had successfully bid to procure, implement and provide initial support for the complete IT infrastructure required for the US$8 billion green-field Sidra Medical and Research Hospital project.  Key features of the role:

  • membership of the local Dell Services management team with direct reporting line to the Dell Services CEO
  • separate reporting line to Dell Services head office in Round Rock, Texas
  • attendance and reposting responsibilities on all monthly and quarterly budget conference calls to Plano, including opinions on financial reporting statements from a legal perspective
  • procurement of and contracting for approximately 50 separate IT systems, including licences, for the new Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha
  • Management responsibility of the two main Dell-Sidra contracts, being the framework Master Services Agreement (MSA), including the Prime Source Vendor Agreement (PSV), and the IT Proxy Agreement (ITP)
  • Direct negotiations with SIDRA and their US based lawyers on the ITP Agreement
  • Managing the impact on IT vendor and in-house Dell Services IT resources due to long-term schedule delays in the construction and handover of the physical infrastructure
  • Legal team leader in negotiations with SIDRA to address the schedule delays and to draft radical amendments to the core agreements to achieve this outcome
  • Legal oversight of the Dell Services Project Management Office (PMO), Human Resources and other key Dell Services teams
  • Managing the Dell Services systems integration contract with Hamad Medical Centre, also in Doha

3. Solution 6 Pty Ltd: Chris was seconded for most of 1999 as acting General Counsel Asia Pacific to publicly listed company Solution 6 Pty Ltd.  Advice included preparation and submission of tenders for Federal and State government IT services; negotiating and drafting systems integration agreements, service level agreements, joint ventures and licensing agreements, and company secretarial duties.

 

  • BPS Financial Pty Ltd: (Current 2018) Advising an Australian payments system operator on its agreement with a payment terminal producer to enable access to the Alipay payment network.
  • Boloro Middle East FZC: Boloro Global Inc. is a US-based global mobile payments system developer and operator; advised the proposed local Middle East partners on joining the Boloro group including the local company formation for Kuwait and the UAE; drafting the Shareholders Agreement with a number of international partners; drafting and negotiating the long-term Master Services Agreement between the Middle East company and the Boloro Global.
  • Ajman Department of Finance: Advised on the procurement and selection of an IT supplier to manage the rollout of the E-Payment Unified Gate System (Revenue Automation) throughout all Ajman Government departments.
  • SAP Middle East & North Africa LLC: Firm acted as the sole provider of external legal services to SAP Middle East & North Africa LLC; advice included drafting and negotiating long-term licensing and support agreements with SAP's largest global client Saudi Aramco, as well as other major Middle East customers including Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
  • Abu Dhabi Airport Company: Advised the Company on the development of an integrated suite of standardized IT contracts, then drafting same to include System Supply, Software Development, Software License, Hardware Purchase, IT Services, IT Personnel Supply and Escrow Agreement.
  • UAE General Pension and Social Security Authority (GPSSA): Advised the GPSSA on the upgrade and complete replacement of its legacy IT systems from predominantly paper based to a state of the art electronic platform using Oracle database and a range of customised software applications.  Negotiated Oracle licences and associated support arrangements.
  • Msheireb Properties: Msheireb Properties, as owner of a large green-field site in the centre of Doha, Qatar, required integrated information communication technology solutions and associated project management services to achieve its goal of developing the site as a state-of-the-art "Smart City" facility. Advice included the procurement and selection of the prime contractor and drafting and negotiating the Master Services Agreement.
  • Al Futtaim Group: advised Al Futtaim Group Real Estate LLC on the acquisition of IT outsourcing services to support a rapid expansion of the group's business in the Middle East region.  Advice included drafting the Master Services Agreement and Hardware Purchase Contract, and providing strategic advice on how to extract the best value in dealing with suppliers.
  • Emirates Iron and Steel Factory (EISF):  advised EISF, one of the largest iron and steel manufacturers in the region, on its plans to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software system across all of its corporate and sector groups within the broader EISF group.  Specifically, EISF chose to implement a SAP ERP system, using a SAP channel partner, Satyam Computer Services Ltd of India as the integrator of the system.  This involved providing advice on the Agreement for Services and Statement of Work and the associated proposal from SAP and Satyam.  Particular attention was required on the service level regime and general performance issues over the course of the contract.
  • RAKBANK (UAE): Advising one of the UAE's largest banks on the acquisition of various software licences including from Oracle, Arcot (CA), Stanchion, Vectramind and Blackberry.
  • Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank: Advising client which is the largest Islamic Bank in the UAE, on its core banking agreements with Swiss IT firm Temenos SPA.; specifically, drafting and negotiating System Design and Implementation Agreement, Software Licence and System Maintenance Agreement.
  • Ajman Bank: Advising client which is the largest bank in the Emirate of Ajman, UAE, on the implementation and integration of its core banking agreements.  Advice included drafting and negotiating System Implementation Agreement, Software Licence and System Maintenance Agreement.
  • Al Hilal Bank: Provided legal advice to start-up Islamic bank on all aspects of the client's IT requirements to enable it to commence operations under an extreme urgency basis due to immoveable opening date.  Agreements drafted and negotiated include Software Licence, System Design and Implementation Agreement and System Support Agreement.
  • Bank Dhofar: drafted and negotiated System Integration Agreement and Software Licence to support overhaul of UAE bank's IT systems.
  • UAE based International bank:  provided advice in relation to the bank's procurement of a new (US$ multi million) Core Banking Solution, including advising on contractual terms with multinational software houses, coordinating a dual negotiation process and drafting amendments.  The project also consisted of advising, drafting and negotiating an arrangement with a multinational technology company for project management services.
  • Australian Department of Defence: advised on the acquisition of multiple new UHF and VHF communications antennas and masts for the Collins Class submarines.  Advice included the preparation of all Request for Tender (RFT) documentation, the Tender Evaluation Plan, acting as external advisor to the Tender Evaluation Panel and assisting with the drafting of the Tender Evaluation Plan.  Following the selection of a preferred tenderer, advice also included leading contract negotiations with the preferred tenderer and its approved subcontractor, advising on intellectual property, liability, indemnity and other general contract issues and advising Defence in the contract negotiations. 
  • Australian Department of Defence: advising the Department on the establishment of a green-field site for the new Defence Headquarters Joint Operations Centre (HQJOC).  This matter involved the replication and new development, transfer, installation and testing of more than 60 Defence communications systems to a central location, which formed the centre of domestic, international and battlefield communications for the Australian Defence Forces.  The systems include Top Secret and Secret networks and equipment.  Legal advice included the development of multiple contracts with a variety of service providers for all services related to the project.  Chris was the lead contact for the client on all legal and compliance aspects of the project.
  • Australian Department of Defence: advised the Department in relation to a review of terrestrial and satellite communications legislation in the context of securing Australia's interests with respect to its communications systems.  This involved a review of several major pieces of legislation relating to the communications infrastructure in Australia and advising on the adequacy of existing legislation and proposals for change.
  • Australian Department of Defence: drafted, negotiated and advised on a Spectrum Access Agreement between Defence and members of the Commercial Television Australia industry i.e. free-to-air TV broadcasters.  The agreement governed the rights of the Department of Defence and the other parties to access and use the 7.2GHz band.
  • Australian Department of Defence: provided advice on Defence's broadband requirements, including negotiating with broadband providers; this included advice on Defence Procurement Policy Manual requirements, the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and Defence's other statutory, regulatory and policy obligations for large scale procurements.
  • Australian Department of Defence: member of the probity advice team for the tender process for the $400M program to replace the Collins Class Submarine Replacement Combat System. 
  • Australian Department of Defence: advised the Department in relation to a review of communications legislation in the context of securing Australia's interests with respect to its communications systems.  This involved a review of several major pieces of legislation relating to the communications infrastructure in Australia and advising on the adequacy of existing legislation and proposals for change (this matter is ongoing). 
  • Airservices Australia: advised on the procurement of services for the Telecommunication Interfaces to NAIPS Applications (TINA) including the development of a model standing offer contract for ongoing applications with similar requirements.  Advice included key issues such as system availability, intellectual property, service levels and liability. 
  • DIMIA (Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs):  Chris was responsible for the contact role on this project.  The project involved a three to four year staged acquisition for the outsourcing of DIMIA's IT and telecommunications requirements.  The selection process required a complex segmentation of client requirements measured against a wide variety of geographical and time related parameters.  The DIMIA IT Sourcing project was one of the larger Australian Federal Government IT outsourcing projects in recent times. 
  • DIMIA: advising on the procurement of software development and ongoing maintenance services in relation to DIMIA's pilot Regional Movement Alert System ("RMAL").  The RMAL project involves the development and rollout to eighteen APEC countries of an Australian-developed software system, which is designed to enhance border protection and security amongst those participating APEC economies.  This has involved advice on procurement under the terms of an existing contract, and the impact of the CPGs on this process.  The advice includes drafting all relevant contractual documentation and related advices.
  • DIMIA: advising DIMIA on the market testing and procurement process for high level scanning and data matching in relation to Passenger Arrival Card processing.  The services required are to collect, collate, scan, match and repair data, and store all passenger arrival cards from all international air and sea ports in Australia.  The procurement process is expected to be a staged process, including the issue of a Request for Expression of Interest ("REOI"), the issue of a Request for Tender ("RFT") to a short-list of potential contractors, advising on the selection process including the Tender Evaluation Plan, contract drafting and negotiations, and any post-contract completion work.
  • Eathos Limited: (Current 2018) Advising a Middle East hospitality company in the staged acquisition of all shares in Joga Juice companies; this included drafting and negotiating the Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Shares and the Shareholders’ Agreement.
  • BPS Financial Pty Ltd: (Current 2018) Advising BPS on its agreement with a New Zealand based Financial Service Provider (FSP) to promote and facilitate access by BPS client merchants to loan facilities provided by the local FSP; advising on cross border corporate matters including registering as an overseas company.
  • Boloro Middle East FZC: Boloro Global Inc. is a US-based global mobile payments system developer and operator; advised the proposed local Middle East partners on joining the Boloro group including the local company formation for Kuwait and the UAE; drafting the Shareholders Agreement with a number of international partners; drafting and negotiating the long-term Master Services Agreement between the Middle East company and the Boloro Global.
  • Axiom Telecom: Advised this subsidiary company of Tecom (a member of the Dubai Holding group) on its acquisition of majority shareholder interests in 3 African telecommunications companies based in South Africa, Rwanda and Zambia.  This involved advising on the various issues arising from the Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Shares and the associated Shareholders' Agreement, and conducting negotiations with the vendors and their advisers.  This was a relatively complex cross-border M&A deal, which required assistance form other corporate team members, with Chris taking the supervising partner role.
  • Korea Telecom: team leader (intellectual property and IT) advising Korea Telecom on the acquisition of 3 subsidiary companies of a competitor communications company.  Advice involved supervising junior staff and coordinating all due diligence and data room activities in relation to information technology and telecommunications issues; regulatory advice to the client. 
  • Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong/Asia): legal and probity adviser in relation to HK$4.4B acquisition and expansion program for the procurement of new telecommunications network infrastructure in Hong Kong and other Asian capital cities.  Advice included consultation with board of directors to advise on legal issues, briefing multiple parties throughout Asia on relevant legal and probity issues, advice on the evaluation process and general legal advice.
  • Yahoo! Corporation: advised Yahoo! On its US$80m acquisition of Maktoob.com and Maktoob Research, including leading the Intellectual Property and IT Contracts due diligence team.