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Ryanair’s case against trade union settled at High Court


A High Court dispute between Ryanair and a trade union over a threatened pilots strike in 2019 has been settled.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore congratulated the parties on Wednesday for reaching a resolution of what he described as “a case which would have been fascinating had it run”.

The case centred on a claim by Ryanair DAC that it suffered millions in lost bookings and from the impact on fares arising from the planned industrial action, which did not go ahead after the airline obtained a High Court injunction.

It also claimed it suffered additional damage due to negative publicity and damage to its business and brand.

The claims were denied.

The injunction was obtained on August 21st, 2019, preventing Fórsa, the parent union of pilots’ union IALPA, from going ahead with the planned 48-hour strike from August 22nd, 2019, in an industrial dispute over pay and conditions.

The issue of liability in Ryanair’s main action, against Fórsa and 11 named individuals including IALPA president Evan Cullen, was due to be heard on Wednesday and was scheduled to last four weeks.

In the run-up to the main action, there were preliminary hearings in relation to applications by both sides for discovery of certain information and documents they said they required for the case. Central to it was information in relation to confidential mediation efforts before the planned industrial action in 2019.

Among these was an application by the defendants for information in electronic communications within Ryanair relating to the industrial dispute.

Searches of messages

Mr Justice O’Moore ruled that searches should be carried out by Ryanair of text messages, WhatsApp messages, instant messages, iPads, and mobile phones for electronic entries which fell within the categories of discovery. These were to include electronically stored documents, meeting notes, handwritten notes, text messages, telephone records, WhatsApp messages and other instant messages made, generated or maintained by Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary.

The judge was satisfied Mr O’Leary had an involvement in the events which gave rise to the legal action.

Indeed, he said, Mr O’Leary’s interactions with Captain Evan Cullen were referred to in discovery which Ryanair was obliged to make.

And Mr O’Leary’s involvement may not end there, he said. There was no affidavit from Mr O’Leary saying that he had little or no relevant involvement in the dealings with Fórsa in 2018 and 2019, “dealings which were obviously quite important as far as the airline was concerned”, the judge said.

“One would expect that the Group CEO would have such an involvement, even if he was not the main driver of, or participant in, the mediation with the union,” he said.

When the case came before Mr Justice O’Moore on Wednesday, Martin Hayden SC, with Eoin O’Shea BL, for Ryanair, told the court it would appear that the judge’s “Christmas card made it to Santa and peace has broken out” and the case would not be proceeding.

Details

The details of the settlement were being worked out and the case could be adjourned until Thursday for this to happen, he said.

Rossa Fanning SC, for the defendants, agreed the case could be put into Thursday for this to happen.

The judge said he was grateful for the papers he had received just before the case which he will not now have to read. He said he would sit again in the morning when the matter could be mentioned.



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