Judgment reserved over Shell contempt

THE High Court has reserved judgment on whether a District Court judge was correct to find Shell & acted in contempt of court orders when it went onto commonage lands at Rossport, Co Mayo, two years ago to carry out site investigations. The commonage is on the modified route for the Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, reserved his decision on legal issues referred to the court by District Court Judge Mary Devins arising from her September 2009 contempt finding against Shell over its entry onto commonage lands in July and August 2008.

Denis McDonald, for Shell, argued it had not acted in contempt as, when the contempt finding was made, it had purchased a share in the commonage lands making it a co-owner. The November 2007 order of Judge Devins’s restraining entry onto the commonage unless in accordance with the Gas Act 1976 did not prohibit all entry onto the land, and the District Court had no jurisdiction to make such a prohibitory order, he submitted.

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