Olivia O'Kane - Partner

Olivia O'Kane

Key Practice Areas

General Data Protection Regulations, Intellectual Property, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Media and Defamation, Privacy Law, Public and Administrative Law

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Olivia graduated with a first class honours degree from Queens University Belfast in 2004 and qualified as a solicitor in 2006 from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies QUB. She later qualified as a solicitor advocate in September 2012. Her extensive Court of Appeal work includes privacy, data protection, anonymity and super injunctions including the landmark judgment of McGaughey v SNL 2011 NICA 51 which substantially reduced quantum and legal costs exposure for defending privacy actions in the jurisdiction. She acted in King –v- Sunday Newspapers Limited 2011 NIQB 1010 Weatherup J the first privacy and newspaper harassment claim in Northern Ireland. She successfully defended newspaper harassment and the majority of the privacy claim was dismissed save for failing on one single issue concerning a child. The damages awarded in this case were the lowest known damages in a privacy claim in the UK, £1000. She has successfully defended the media in numerous privacy actions including for example Colin Fulton –v- Sunday Newspapers Limited 2014 NIQB 35 and Robert McAuley –v- Sunday Newspapers Limited 2015 NIQB 74. She acted in the landmark decision of KL and NN –v- Sunday Newspapers Limited 2015 NIQB 88, which established the correct legal procedure when Plaintiff’s wish to apply to the court for anonymity and requires such applicants to notify the defendant and particularise their pleadings properly. In JKL –v- Telegraph Media Group Ltd, Associated Newspapers Ltd, News Group Newspapers Ltd, Google Inc, Twitter International Company and Twitter Inc 2015, Olivia successfully discharged an injunction with no admission of liability obtained against Twitter International Company and Twitter Inc. Olivia acted in a case which obtained the first Norwich Pharmacol Order in the jurisdiction and also the second in the Republic of Ireland.

Olivia is awaiting a Court of Appeal judgment which shall be a landmark decision in Northern Ireland regarding libel jury trials, and which proposes to set down the Northern Ireland law on libel jury trials. This judgement is of huge significance throughout the UK as it is the first since England and Wales introduced the Defamation Act 2013 (which does not apply in NI), Martin Stokes –v- Sunday Newspapers Limited 2016 NICA.

She acted as solicitor advocate on behalf of a media organisation in challenging and applying to set aside an anonymity order in criminal proceedings which had been anonymised. This resulted in the first known written judgment in this jurisdiction expressly acknowledging the right of the media to challenge anonymity orders in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in Application by Guardian News and Media Limited and Others [2010] UKSC 1. Olivia also acted as solicitor advocate in defending an independent court reporter who was confronted with interim injunction proceedings arising out of the intended reporting of criminal proceedings.

Olivia provides pre-publication advices to print and broadcast media including pre radio broadcast advices to British Forces Broadcast Services and Bauer Media Group. She provides in house legal training to the Irish News in relation to their online legal issues and training. Olivia provides pre-publication advices to print and broadcast media including pre radio broadcast advices to British Forces Broadcast Services and Bauer Media Group. She provides in house legal training to the Irish News in relation to their online legal issues and training. She is a member of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland and the Society of Editors and is currently the Chair of the Belfast Solicitors’ Association

Olivia has been described as a solicitor advocate who quickly gained a strong reputation for her work both in and outside court. Clients note that she is "on the ball" and "well prepared for every case", she "clearly knows her stuff" and is praised as being "very comprehensive, sharp, on the ball and reassuring." She is "attentive, perceptive and quick to respond with practical advice" and is described as the "fantastic" Olivia who continues to build an impressive reputation in the field, handling work for high-calibre media publishing clients. More recently she was described as a dedicated media lawyer capable of tackling matters in all fields ranging from privacy and libel, to social media and regulatory concerns.

Talks / Lectures:

  • Privacy, Press and New Technology 2013/14 Prof P Leith. Guest speaker week 10, 4th December 2013. QUB Law School
  • MA Broadcast Literacy 19th February 2014. Guest lecture speaker - Dr Derek Johnston. School of English
  • Annual Agenda NI Social Media Conference Grand Opera House Belfast – guest speaker on Social Media & the Law, 17th September 2014
  • Vlogging and the Law Workshop on Advertising Law at ‘VlogIt’ Conference Derry City - guest speaker on the 11th June 2015
  • The Law Society of Ireland 13th Annual Human Rights Conference “Human Rights and the Media: Balancing public and private interests – Olivia was a key note speaker on a panel of esteemed judges and Queens Counsel and technology journalists and professors, 10th October 2015

Olivia is ranked Band 1 in the Chambers UK guide 2021. An impressed source remarked that Olivia, "She is an excellent lawyer - incredibly helpful and client-centred. She's passionate, committed and skilled. She is very calm and measured and puts me at ease in a crisis."

Interviewees state: "Olivia has a deep and wide-ranging understanding of media law, freedom of speech issues, and privacy and data protection matters. It is always a pleasure to work with her." "Olivia is extremely helpful, conscientious, accommodating and insightful."