Ryanair action against former executive put back for lack of judge

Airline looking to stop former chief operating officer Peter Bellew joining rival Easyjet

Ryanair’s lawsuit to prevent chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, from joining rival Easyjet next year is due back in court later this week. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ryanair’s lawsuit to prevent chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, from joining rival Easyjet next year is due back in court later this week. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Ryanair’s lawsuit to prevent chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, from joining rival Easyjet next year is due back in court later this week after failing to begin on Tuesday.

Mr Bellew plans to join Easyjet as chief operating officer in January, but Ryanair is taking High Court action to prevent the move, saying the executive’s contract has a clause barring him from joining any competitor for a year after leaving the Irish carrier.

The case is due back before the High Court on Thursday, but may not go ahead unless there is a judge available to hear it.

The parties, including Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary and Mr Bellew, were in court yesterday, but the case did not go ahead as there was no judge available.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds listed the case for mention on Thursday and said the court would see at that point if it looked feasible for it to go ahead. She said that it could be Thursday, December 5th before the court could assign the case a date.

Urgent

She indicated that another case would have to drop out of the court’s list to allow the Ryanair hearing to proceed before that. The judge added that she appreciated that the case was urgent.

The hearing is likely to take four days. It was originally scheduled to begin on Tuesday, November 19th, but the court was told that an issue had arisen preventing it from proceeding on that date.

Ryanair began its legal action in August, shortly after Easyjet confirmed that Mr Bellew was joining the British airline.

Speaking after Ryanair’s annual general meeting in September, Mr O’Leary pointed out that all the airline’s executives and senior managers had 12-month non-compete clauses in their contracts. He said these arose from the company’s share option schemes.

Mr Bellew returned to Ryanair in late 2017 from Malaysia Air, where he was chief executive. He was once tipped as a likely successor to Mr O’Leary.