Neil

Hello!

I am a specialist senior solicitor, with years of experience advising on communications regulation, privacy, security, and Internet / technology law.

Clients love my pragmatism, straight-talking approach, and technical knowledge. Unlike most lawyers, I am as comfortable with the technology as I am with the law, and love learning how things work and tinkering with software, servers and IP networks and services.

I pride myself in delivering sensible, commercially-minded advice, and I work closely with my clients. I'll listen to your suggestions and ideas as well as your needs, and come up with solutions which make sense for you as a business.

Experience and successes

Before starting decoded.legal, I was employed by Vodafone for over 10 years, working in both its UK operating company and its central group legal team.

Alongside years of experience advising on both traditional and IP-based communications networks and services, I was head of privacy for Vodafone's UK operating company, and its primary advisor on legal aspects of cybersecurity, as well as the legal frameworks underpinning obligations to assist law enforcement.

I loved my time working for Vodafone, and started decoded.legal because I wanted to offer my pragmatic, business-savvy and tech-minded advice to more businessess. That has happened very quickly!

Since I started decoded.legal in 2016, I have (among numerous other things):

  • advised a range of telcoms operators on what they need to do to comply with the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and to respond to demands from law enforcement agencies, and routinely engage with government and agencies to get the best possible position for my clients
  • helped a major energy company with its GDPR compliance activity, and providing ongoing support as part of its in-house privacy team, advising on well over 200 projects
  • saved an ISP a small fortune by reading its contracts with key suppliers and writing letters asking for money to be returned / undue charges to be written off
  • successfully closed a formal ICO investigation into a company's communications, persuading the ICO that the approach was consistent with the law — the ICO closed the investigation without taking any action
  • helped multiple ISPs, telcos, and companies offering online services launch new products and services, and put in place clearer, simpler, and more suitable contracts with their customers, helping them to protect their position and meet their legal obligations
  • acted as "virtual general counsel" to a fintech start-up, helping it grow from tiny to getting millions of users, negotiating deals for them across the world with numerous banks and major commercial customers
  • found a way through numerous data protection, privacy, and telco regulatory issues to help a telco pilot an SMS spam / fraud detection and prevention system, after previous advice said it could not be done
  • supported a healthcare company getting into an exciting new partnership, and then helped it get out again when it turned out to be less exciting than anticipated
  • turned a regulator's own privacy programme around in the space of a couple of weeks, from "close to nothing", to something they can implement and build on
  • helped with a range of compliance issues, including ASA complaints about advertising, and queries from the ICO and other regulators

Appointments

I am a fellow (boy does that make me sound old), and former trustee, of the Society for Computers and Law, and regularly write and speak for the Society. My "Back to Basics: the technology" event, which taught the fundamentals of technology to solicitors, sold out, and received amazing feedback.

I was a member and deputy chair of the Independent Digital Ethics Panel for Policing, the only practising lawyer to be appointed. I provided ethical advice on a range of scenarios, including to the National Crime Agency on undercover activity in child sexual exploitation investigations. I retired in 2019, when I felt I was spending more time on politics and admin than on giving advice.

I sit on the professional board of leading IT law journal, Computer Law & Security Review, which published my work on the regulation of over the top communications services.

For many years, I was a member of the Law Society's Technology and Law Reference Group, through which I provided guidance and advice on a wide range of issues relating to — wait for it — technology and the law. I left as I felt too much time was spent in meetings, talking and discussing, rather than getting things done.

Writing and speaking

I write regularly, with numerous publications in specialist law journals, and authored a chapter of Oxford University Press's leading work on Free and Open Source software.

I am a sought-after speaker on communications, Internet and IT law matters. I taught a highly-successful communications law course for four years in Washington, D.C. to regulators, government ministers and policy makers. I have lectured in the US, Africa and Europe, and taught IT and IP law regularly at the University of Southampton to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

My seminars for the Society for Computers and Law have sold out on multiple occasions.

Education

I have undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in law, and was awarded a vice-chancellor's scholarship for doctoral research in communications regulation.

I started doing a part-time PhD on the regulation of over the top communications services, and some of what I recommended in a published article has appeared in the revised European Electronic Communications Code. After three years of trying to do the PhD alongside running decoded.legal, I realised I had to pick one or the other, and decoded.legal was the (inevitable) winner.

Hire decoded.legal now!

email  Email

Please contact us via email:

contact@decoded.legal

Please encrypt it end-to-end, if you can. Here is our PGP/GPG key. You can also find our keys on keys.openpgp.org, and via Web Key Directory.

phone Prefer to talk?

Drop us an email telling us a bit about you and what help you need. If we're likely to be a good fit for you, we're more than happy to take it from there by audio or video call.

We offer "normal" phone calls, unencrypted SIP, and encrypted audio/video call.

We record calls.

We'll never spam you or sell your information. Ever. More info here.

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Other bits

decoded.legal is:

  • authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (626329)
  • subject to the SRA's code of conduct
  • a company registered in England and Wales (9856909) with a registered office address of Farthings, Stable Court, Love Lane, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 2DT
  • registered as a data controller with the Information Commissioner's Office (ZA152364)
  • registered for VAT in England and Wales (229 6427 86)