Court of Appeal confirms Competition Commission’s jurisdiction to review Ryanair / Aer Lingus

13 Dec 2012

The Court of Appeal today rejected Ryanair’s latest challenge to the UK merger authorities’ jurisdiction to review its minority stake in rival airline Aer Lingus.

Ryanair argued, initially before the CAT, that the CC could not investigate the minority stake while the European Commission was in the process of reviewing its public bid for the remaining shares.  The CAT rejected the challenge in August. Ryanair appealed to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the UK’s duty of sincere cooperation with the institutions of the European Union precluded the CC from carrying out a merger investigation in which some of the issues would overlap with those under consideration at EU level.

The Court of Appeal rejected Ryanair’s contention, holding that there was “no doubt that a stay of the Competition Commission’s investigation at the present time is neither necessary nor appropriate”.  The European Commission is investigating a different transaction, under a separate jurisdiction, and will in any event conclude its investigation before the CC does.  The Court also held that the earlier judgment in Ryanair v OFT could not be read across to the present case, because in that case the Court was considering the possibility of EU and UK authorities reviewing the very same share acquisition, which would be contrary to the European Commission’s exclusive jurisdiction over mergers falling within its remit.

Click to view the judgment in Ryanair v Competition Commission and Aer Lingus

Daniel Beard QC and Alison Berridge appeared for the Competition Commission.