The NRA said motorists using the Gormanston to Monasterboice stretch of the M1 motorway are being overcharged by the Celtic Roads Group by €26,000 a week since January 1 and will be overcharged by €1.39m this year unless the tolls are reduced. Some 11 million vehicles used the M1 toll road last year, the court heard.
The NRA claims the toll should have been reduced on January 1 from €1.90 for a car to €1.80 but the company had not done this.
The NRA claims motorists using other motorway routes will also be overcharged if its interpretation of the relevant by-laws is correct. Those routes are the M8 Rathcormac/Fermoy bypass; the N25 Waterford bypass and the M4 Kinnegad-Enfield-Kilcock motorway.
Among various claims of the NRA, it rejects arguments the relevant by-laws provide only for upwards-only revision of toll charges. It claims the tolls being imposed are in excess of the maximum tolls chargeable under the appropriate formula provided for in the by-laws.
However, lawyers for the Celtic Roads Group queried the consistency of the NRA’s own conduct in relation to the relevant by-laws.
Maurice Collins SC, for Celtic Roads Group (Dundalk) Ltd (CRGD), said the NRA was itself effectively the operator of the M50 and appeared not to have reduced tolls there.
Declan McGrath, for the NRA, said there was no inconsistency between how tolls were applied to the M50 and the NRA’s interpretation of what should apply in relation to the M1 and other motorways.
The issue for the court to determine was the proper construction of the relevant by-laws and the NRA wanted the matter heard urgently, he argued.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said if the NRA was correct, it was accepted there was no means whereby overcharged motorists would be compensated. The action should be heard urgently and he fixed February 22 as the date for a hearing.
Earlier this month, the NRA said four other toll operators — on the M4, M6, M8 and N25 — were also required to lower their tolls but only the operators of the M6 had done so.