Lawyers and London 2012

Freshfields is the official legal services provider for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Gateway hears why lawyers are essential to their success

Tim Jones: The managing partner

What were the firm's reasons for getting involved with London 2012 Games?

We're proud the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has chosen us for this complex project. The other professional sponsors are an interesting group with many of our clients among them, so getting to know them better is a good thing. The secondees are getting terrific experience at LOCOG and our employees are excited by the project, which is so fundamental to London.

We've always been focused on East London, so what we're doing for the London 2012 Games fits in with much of the pro bono work we've done in the past bringing tangible improvements to life in this area.

How have different departments across the firm been involved?

The corporate department helped to set up LOCOG and its joint venture arrangements. The real estate department has been dealing with the land being used in Greenwich, and we've been heavily involved with the construction contracts. Employment law is also relevant because LOCOG will become a very big employer. There are also European law issues to do with the sale of tickets for the events across the EU. And there are some tax issues because LOCOG has special tax status.

How will the firm's work continue after the London 2012 Games?

After the events finish, we'll help with the legal aspects of winding LOCOG down, for example, the sale or leasing of some of the facilities.

But the real legacy of the London 2012 Games is as a catalyst for change and regeneration in East London. We hope Freshfields will continue to be involved with this process.

Kat Stephens: The secondee to LOCOG

What work have you been involved in at LOCOG?

I spent a lot of time working on the torch relay. We planned a 70-day relay that will carry the Olympic flame around the UK and finish in the stadium at the opening ceremony. I negotiated the agreements with the lead sponsors of the relay (Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung) that granted them rights such as being able to use the torch branding and have vehicles in the convoy. We're aiming to keep the convoy as small as possible, but it will still be a large group of people moving around the country who will need certain services - so we had to contract for everything from laundry to catering at every location.

Another aspect of the work on the relay was the agreement needed from each local authority whose area will be visited - there are hundreds of them. And for all venues used or land passed over that isn't owned by a local authority, we needed to enter into agreements with the relevant landowner instead. We also prepared agreements for all 8,000 torchbearers. It's estimated that 12,000 contracts were entered into just in relation to the torch relay!

I've been involved in the negotiation of the agreement with Channel 4 that they will become the official broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We've also been considering what disputes might occur and what legal action LOCOG could take if, for example, a construction project is delayed.

How will your day-to-day work change as the opening of the London 2012 Games approaches?

As time moves on, we'll finish all the significant contract negotiations and are likely to spend more time resolving issues that arise as contracts entered into some time ago start to be performed. And obviously the pace and the urgency are going to rocket!

Arthur Artinian:**The IP associate**

How do you work with LOCOG?

I help LOCOG work out whether someone is infringing their IP rights and if so, what action they should take. In the UK we have special Olympic laws in addition to standard IP rights which stop anyone associating themselves with the London 2012 Games without permission.

I can't talk about the potential infringement cases we're dealing with, but can give an example from the World Cup last year: a beer company, which didn't make the official World Cup beer, sent groups of people dressed in a colour associated with them into one of the stadiums as a publicity stunt. Actions like these are a serious problem because they undermine the position of the companies that have paid millions of pounds to be official sponsors.

We also look at LOCOG's marketing and advertising strategies to ensure that they don't breach anyone else's IP rights; for example, we advised them on choosing the names of the mascots for the London 2012 Games.

LOCOG also often come to us with discrete legal issues which have popped up - for example, a question about the law on advertising to children, marketing on the internet, or drafting rules for a competition.

Will you have legal work for LOCOG to do during the London 2012 Games themselves?

During the events our involvement will reach its peak. There will be lots of monitoring and enforcement activity, which could be about where to place a billboard, or what to do about shipments of fake Olympic goods. We are expecting plenty of urgent court work!