Legal defeats for Ryanair

15 Jul 2015

Ryanair has suffered two legal defeats in its long running dispute with the Competition and Markets Authority over its minority stake in Aer Lingus.

Nearly two years ago the CMA published a report finding that Ryanair’s near 30% stake in its rival lead to a substantial lessening of competition, and that Ryanair should be ordered to reduce its holding to 5%. That decision was challenged, unsuccessfully, in the Competition Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal.Yesterday the Supreme Court refused Ryanair permission for a further appeal.

Meanwhile Ryanair had argued that IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus was a “material change of circumstances” requiring that the remedy be altered or abandoned. The CMA took a separate decision on this, finding no such change, which was the subject of a further challenge before the CAT earlier this month. Today the CAT rejected Ryanair’s challenge, finding that the CMA’s decision was not irrational, nor was it necessary for the CMA to carry out a new proportionality assessment in the absence of any material change in circumstances. The judgment is available here Ryanair Holdings plc v Competition and Markets Authority July 2015.

Also today came the news that the European Commission had cleared IAG’s bid, which Ryanair has said it will accept. Followers of this long running saga can look forward to an interesting summer.

The CMA was represented by Daniel Beard QC, Rob Williams and Alison Berridge.