Tuesday 25 April 2017

Judge cites 'untruths' by Ryanair as case rejected

Tim Healy

"THE truth and Ryanair are uncomfortable bedfellows," said High Court judge Peter Kelly yesterday.

He made his remarks when rejecting a legal challenge by the airline over charges at Dublin Airport.

"Having had to consider Ryanair's untruths to the court, its untruths about the court and its untruths about the Minister [for Transport, Noel Dempsey], one has to conclude that the truth and Ryanair are uncomfortable bedfellows," he said.

Factual mis-statements in affidavits put by Ryanair before the court had "misled the court in a material way", he said.

He repeated a previous criticism of Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary for "seriously misrepresenting" the court's position in a letter to Mr Dempsey last February.

A later letter to the minister from Ryanair's head of legal affairs, Juliusz Komorek, was "to like effect", the judge said. Mr O'Leary had made "a pathetic attempt" to try and justify the untruth in his letter, he said.

Grave matters

"These are grave matters and fall far below the standards that the court is entitled to expect."

The judge's remarks came when he refused Ryanair leave to bring a judicial review challenge to a determination by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) of December 4 last year fixing maximum charges for Dublin Airport over the years 2010-2014.

Ryanair has also appealed against the decision to an appeals panel set up by the minister.

Both CAR and Dublin Aviation Authority (DAA) argued the budget airline should be refused leave to challenge in the High Court because it had itself said the appeal panel could address its grievances more speedily and more cost effectively.

CAR and DAA also argued Ryanair's grounds for judicial review all related to the merits of the decision when judicial review could only address whether there was illegality or unfairness in how a decision was reached, not its merits.

It was further claimed Ryanair's "misconduct" of the proceedings was a factor the court should take into account in exercising its discretion whether to grant leave.

Ryanair rejected those arguments and insisted, while favouring an appeal, that it was also entitled to pursue judicial review. One of Ryanair's difficulties was that the appeal panel's decision was not binding on CAR, it said.

Judgment

In his judgment, Mr Justice Kelly said because of Ryanair's own clear statement that an appeal against the charges was its preferred course and provided a "cost-efficient, quick and satisfactory forum" for addressing its grievances, he had to refuse the airline's application.

"Rarely, if ever, does one find a party to litigation making such a comprehensive case -- against itself," he said.

Ryanair said yesterday it was considering appealing Mr Justice Kelly's ruling to the Supreme Court.

Irish Independent

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