Ryanair, the World’s most hated airline, have apologised to a High Court judge over a second letter wrongly informing the Minister for Transport that the judge had publicly criticised him over delays in setting up a panel to hear appeals against proposed new charges at Dublin airport.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly had received an unreserved apology last month from Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary over an earlier letter from Mr O’Leary also misrepresenting the judge.
Yesterday Mr Justice Kelly expressed serious concern about the second letter, written by Ryanair’s head of legal affairs Juliusz Komorek, which repeated the misrepresentation.
When Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, said Mr Komorek’s letter of March 12th last merely “referred back” to the letter by Mr O’Leary to the Minister on February 25th, that argument was rejected by the judge and counsel for the Dublin Aviation Authority (DAA).
Cian Ferriter, for the DAA, said the letter was part of Ryanair’s “gross misconduct” of its legal proceedings over the proposed new charges, and the court was entitled to take that into account in deciding whether to dismiss the proceedings now.
There was a “deeply ingrained culture” of “casual and rampant” disrespect for the court process and for anyone who gets in Ryanair’s way, counsel said.
The attitude was “if you are not with Ryanair, you are corrupt, incompetent, a failure” and in the pocket of the Minister and others.
After Mr Justice Kelly pursued the matter of the second letter, disclosed to the court by Ryanair itself following the hearing involving Mr O’Leary on March 26th last, Mr Hayden apologised on behalf of Ryanair over Mr Komorek’s letter but denied the judge’s suggestion he had to be “goaded” into the apology.
Mr O’Leary had on March 26th apologised in court over the “lie” in his own letter to Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey alleging the judge publicly criticised the Minister over “inexcusable” delays in setting up an appeal panel against the Commission for Aviation Regulation’s (CAR) decision fixing the maximum charges the DAA may levy at Dublin airport for the five years up to 2014.
The Minister had told Mr O’Leary in a letter of January 10th he would be setting up a panel.
Yesterday the judge heard preliminary arguments to dismiss Ryanair’s application for leave to bring a judicial review challenge to the CAR decision and reserved his ruling.
Both the CAR and DAA argued Ryanair 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.
They 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.
Rejecting the arguments, Mr Hayden said Ryanair, while favouring an appeal, was also entitled to pursue judicial review. One of Ryanair’s difficulties was that the appeal panel’s decision was not binding on the CAR, who had also refused to agree to a request from Ryanair to extend the two-month limit for judicial review until the appeal was decided.