Aer Rianta Cpt v Ryanair Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeDenham J.
Judgment Date02 April 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] IESC 23
Docket NumberNO. 352/03
CourtSupreme Court
Date02 April 2004
AER RIANTA CPT v. RYANAIR LTD
BETWEEN/
AER RIANTA CPT
PLAINTIFF/RESPONDENT

AND

RYANAIR LIMITED
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT

[2004] IESC 23

Denham J.

Hardiman J.

McCracken J.

NO. 352/03

THE SUPREME COURT

Synopsis:

- [2004] 1 IR 506

Citations:

RSC O.19 r28

AIR NAVIGATION & TRANSPORT (AMDT) ACT 1998

CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES 1999 (UK)

RSC O.125 r1

RSC O.19 r27

Denham J.
1

This is an appeal by Ryanair Limited, the defendant/appellant, hereinafter referred to as Ryanair, from the judgment and order of the High Court (Lavan J.) given on the 29th July, 2003 refusing the application of Ryanair, under O. 19 r. 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, 1986, to strike out paragraphs number 15, 16 and 17 of the Statement of Claim of Aer Rianta CPT, the plaintiff/respondent, hereinafter referred to as Aer Rianta, in the main proceedings on the basis that "the said pleading discloses no reasonable cause of action."

2

Aer Rianta has pleaded that in a press release issued in January, 2001, and on its website, Ryanair overstated the amount of airport charges levied by Aer Rianta pursuant to the Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act,1998, as amended. Aer Rianta pleads that Ryanair stated that the passenger service charge was IR£9.50 per person, while Aer Rianta pleads that it was IR£7.20. Aer Rianta claims that the actions of Ryanair have damaged its reputation and claims relief.

3

In the main proceedings Aer Rianta seeks,inter alia, declaratory relief, an account of monies, damages for defamation and malicious falsehood by reason of the statements alleged to have been made by Ryanair in a press release and on its website concerning the level of airport charges levied by Aer Rianta, a permanent injunction, an order for restitution and other relief. Aer Rianta alleges that Ryanair overstated the level of the charges, has characterised the nature and extent of airport charges at the airports of Aer Rianta in a false and misleading manner and has done so maliciously with the intent of causing damage to the business and reputation of Aer Rianta. It is alleged also by Aer Rianta that Ryanair have misled passengers using their services into believing that they are paying a higher passenger service charge than is in fact the case.

3

Ryanair, in its defence, denies the claim of Aer Rianta in defamation and pleads that the passenger service charge collected from its passengers was based on a number of different factors and that it was an approximation. Ryanair denies that Aer Rianta has thelocus standi to pursue a claim based on unjust enrichment.

4

The pleadings in the action were instituted in January, 2001. The Statement of Claim was delivered in March, 2002. The Defence was delivered in May, 2002. In July, 2002 Ryanair served a Notice of Trial. In February, 2003 this motion was brought.

5

Ryanair by Notice of Motion sought an order pursuant to O. 19 r. 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, 1986 striking out paragraphs 15, 16 and 17 of the Statement of Claim on the basis that the said pleading discloses no reasonable cause of action.

6

One of the claims of Aer Rianta is that Ryanair has unjustly enriched itself in overstating the level of airport charges. This is set out in paragraphs 15, 16 and 17 of the Statement of Claim. Paragraph 15, 16 and 17 of the Statement of Claim state:

2

"15. In the premises, Ryanair has unjustly enriched itself to the extent that it has levied a charge on its passengers on the basis that it is a “charge” or “tax” payable to Aer Rianta but have not paid over the full amount thereof to Aer Rianta.

16

In addition, Ryanair has further unjustly enriched itself by retaining for its own benefit the so-called “passenger service charge” or “tax” levied by it on its passengers where, for any reason, the passenger fails to fly as scheduled. In those circumstances, notwithstanding that no PSC is payable to Aer Rianta, Ryanair refuses to repay the passenger the amount levied by it.

17

In the premises, to the extent that Ryanair has unjustly enriched itself in the manner aforesaid, it must account to Aer Rianta therefor. Aer Rianta cannot quantify the extent to which Ryanair has been unjustly enriched until the making of discovery and/or the delivery of interrogatories herein."

7

On the motion coming before the High Court the learned High Court judge accepted the submissions of Aer Rianta and refused the application of Ryanair. Against that determination Ryanair has appealed.

8

This motion was brought pursuant to O. 19r. 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, 1986 which provides:

"The Court may order any pleading to be struck out, on the ground that it discloses no reasonable cause of action or answer and in any such case or in case of the action or defence being shown by the pleadings to be frivolous or vexatious, the Court may order the action to be stayed or dismissed, or judgment to be entered accordingly, as may be just."

Both in the High Court and on appeal in this court the motion proceeded on the basis of O. 19 r. 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts alone. The issue of inherent jurisdiction was not argued and forms no part of the decision....

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