Ryanair action against Irish-based pilots adjourned

Pilots seek stay on case as mediation proceeds

Ryanair’s bid to fast-track its action against some of its pilots based in Ireland and their trade union over a planned strike that was halted by injunction last August has been adjourned for two weeks at the Commercial Court.

The adjournment was granted in the context of a High Court hearing next Thursday of an application by the pilots and Fórsa, the parent union of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (Ialpa), for a stay on Ryanair’s case while a mediation process proceeds.

Ryanair, represented by Martin Hayden SC, told the Commercial Court on Monday the mediation was addressing a pay claim and that is not what Ryanair's legal action, which seeks damages and certain declarations, is about.

His argument was disputed by Marguerite Bolger SC, for the defendants.


Ms Bolger said their position was that an agreement had been reached to stay the damages case pending the mediation and that it was always intended that agreement would be legally binding.

The mediation has been progressing in a “positive manner and it is expected to conclude towards the end of this month”, she added.

For reasons including the mediation and the fact her side’s application to stay the damages case is due before the High Court on Thursday, the fast-track application should not proceed, she said. The matter was also not suitable for the Commercial Court, she added.

Two-week adjournment

Having heard the sides, Mr Justice Robert Haughton said, in light of the stay application, he would adjourn Ryanair’s fast-track application for two weeks. Depending on the outcome of the stay application, the fast-track application can be renewed, he added.

Ryanair had initiated proceedings last August against Fórsa and several named pilots, including Ialpa president Evan Cullen, over a planned 48-hour strike over pay and conditions scheduled to take place on August 22nd and 23rd.

The industrial action did not proceed after Ryanair secured a High Court injunction preventing it. That injunction remains in place pending the full hearing of the dispute.

As well as granting the injunction, Mr Justice Denis McDonald directed that the airline progress the full hearing of its case against the defendants so as to “protect the union’s position” and ensure it would “not be left in limbo”.

The case was adjourned after Mr Justice McDonald was informed last month that the sides had returned to mediation.

Last Friday Ms Bolger SC got permission to bring a motion next Thursday seeking to stay the Ryanair proceedings pending the outcome of the mediation.

In its proceedings, Ryanair claims it suffered estimated losses of €13.7 million in lost bookings and impact on fares arising from the planned industrial action. It also claims it suffered additional damage due to negative publicity and damage to its business and brand.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times