Truth and Ryanair ‘uncomfortable bedfellows’

THE truth and Ryanair are “uncomfortable bedfellows” in light of the latter’s conduct in challenging proposed new charges at Dublin Airport for the five years up to 2014, a High Court judge said yesterday.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made his remarks considering “Ryanair’s untruths to the court, its untruths about the court and its untruths about the Minister [for Transport Noel Dempsey]”.

Factual misstatements in affidavits put by Ryanair before the court had “misled the court in a material way“, he noted.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary had, in a letter to Mr Dempsey last February, “seriously misrepresented” the position of the judge and a later letter to the minister from Ryanair’s head of legal affairs, Juliusz Komorek, was “to like effect”. Mr O’Leary had also made “a pathetic attempt” to try and justify the untruth in his letter.

Mr Justice Kelly made the remarks in a judgment yesterday refusing Ryanair leave to bring a judicial review challenge to a determination by the Commission for Aviation Regulation of December 4 last 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 for Transport and both the CAR and Dublin Aviation Authority argued the airline should be refused leave because it had itself said the appeal panel could address its grievances with the CAR decision more speedily and more cost effectively.

The CAR and DAA also argued Ryanair’s grounds for judicial review all related to the merits of the decision when judicial review can only address whether there was illegality of 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 insisted, while favouring an appeal, it was also entitled to pursue judicial review.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Kelly refused leave for judicial review. He said he did not regard the grounds advanced for leave as substantial.

Given his finding that Ryanair has a remedy via the appeal process, the judge said he did not have to decide whether Ryanair’s conduct was such as should disentitle it to leave.

Noting he had been invited by the DAA to find there was an “ingrained culture of disrespect” for process, including court process, within Ryanair, the judge said, given the untruths he had referred to, he had to conclude the airline and the truth were “uncomfortable bedfellows”.

Ryanair has until Tuesday next to decide if it will seek permission from the judge for leave to appeal his refusal to the Supreme Court.

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