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Ferry Operator in High Court Challenge Over Compensation Finding

5th March 2019
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Nation Transport Authority issued Irish Ferries with two notices over cancellations of sailings to France. Afloats adds above on the horizon of Dublin Bay is W.B. Yeats which since January has operated the Dublin-Holyhead, however the €144m newbuild cruiseferry is due to enter service next week on the direct continental route linking the capital and Cherbourg. Nation Transport Authority issued Irish Ferries with two notices over cancellations of sailings to France. Afloats adds above on the horizon of Dublin Bay is W.B. Yeats which since January has operated the Dublin-Holyhead, however the €144m newbuild cruiseferry is due to enter service next week on the direct continental route linking the capital and Cherbourg. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#ferries - Operator Irish Ferries has brought a High Court challenge over a finding it must pay compensation to thousands of passengers affected by the cancellation of sailings between Ireland and France last summer.

As The Irish Times reports, the ferry company says it had to cancel the services because a new ferry, the WB Yeats, which it had ordered to operate the service between Dublin and Cherbourg, was delayed for several months.

Its legal challenge is to the National Transport Authority’s decision last January that, arising out of the cancellations, the company breached EU regulations concerning the rights of passengers travelling by sea.

The NTA issued the company with two notices requiring it pay compensation to impacted passengers within a period of two months.

The notices direct the company to pay compensation to passengers impacted by the cancellations who had to travel from Rosslare instead of Dublin and from Roscoff instead of Cherbourg.

The notices also state passengers who were delayed in reaching their final destination who have already requested compensation from the company must also be paid compensation.

Non-compliance with the notices is an offence, with a maximum fine on conviction of €250,000.

The company disputes the NTA’s finding and contends the notices are invalid, irrational, disproportionate and breach its rights under the Constitution and EU law. It also argues the NTA has misinterpreted the relevant EU regulations.

The cancellations occurred because a new ship it had commissioned from the German shipyard Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft was delivered some “200 days” late, Paul Gallagher SC, for the company, told the High Court on Monday.

The delay came as a shock to Irish Ferries and made headlines in the media, he said.

For further reading on this development, click here. 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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