Irish Court Rules That Ryanair CEO’s Messages Must Be Searched

As part of a lawsuit filed by Ryanair, Ireland’s High Court decided on Thursday that the messages of Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary must be searched. In 2019, members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (a branch of the Fórsa trade union) voted to take job action over salaries. While a court injunction prevented the strike, the airline has decided to sue the trade union and a number of pilots for financial damages suffered.

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Ryanair has faced numerous disputes from pilots’ unions over pay. Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

WhatsApp messages, text messages, telephone records, and more

According to the Irish Times, Ireland’s High Court has ruled that the messages and correspondences of Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary be searched and made available for the legal process of discovery. Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about witnesses and evidence to be presented at trial.

This search through O’Leary’s correspondences includes telephone records, text messages, WhatsApp messages, or other instant messages made that are related to the case. Presiding over this case, Justice Brian O’Moore noted that relevant searches must be made even if O’Leary had minimal involvement in the threatened pilots’ strike of August 2019.

Attempting to prevent this, Ryanair argued that O’Leary’s assistant was identified by the airline as a custodian of relevant correspondences and documents and that such messages and notes from O’Leary would be discovered by searching the assistant’s records. However, the judge was not prepared to accept this.

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Including its subsidiaries, Ryanair is Europe’s largest airline group. Photo: Arran Rice | Simple Flying

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Aer Lingus communications to remain undisclosed

Hoping to gain an advantage in its legal battle, Independent.ie notes that Ryanair pushed for the discovery of summer 2019 emails exchanged between pilot union president Captain Evan Cullen and Aer Lingus CEO Mike Rutter.

While Aer Lingus opposed the application, lawyers for Ryanair argued that the information contained within these correspondences had significant commercial importance and would assist in the airline’s case against the defendants. Unfortunately for Ryanair, the judge denied this request, stating that the emails between Cullen and Rutter did not support the idea that Aer Lingus had documents relevant to the case before the court.

It was also noted that the defendants (Fórsa and several pilots) had no position on the application.

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Ryanair had hoped to have the relevant emails of Aer Lingus’ CEO (at the time) disclosed. Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

What happened in 2019?

It was back in August of 2019 that members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (a branch of the Fórsa trade union) voted to strike over salaries. The union threatened to take 48-hour industrial action against Ryanair, which was caught off-guard by the move, according to some industry insiders. The airline had been in talks with the union on an ongoing basis, with the involvement of an experienced mediator.

The job action never materialized as the Irish High Court granted Ryanair an injunction to prevent the strike. As reported by Reuters, this injunction was granted on the basis that Forsa had not given time for the mediation process to be completed before announcing the industrial action. The airline group claimed that the strike would be in breach of a 2018 agreement made between the two parties.

Fast forward to the present, and Ryanair is suing Fórsa and several pilots and claiming that it suffered millions in losses due to the threat of the strike. Given that this matter is in its early stages, it will be very interesting to see how it progresses and if Ryanair can convince the court of its case.

How do you think this legal battle will unfold? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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