Thursday, 19 April 2007

Shell left with €1m legal bill as gas line battle ends

ENERGY giant Shell E&P Ireland Ltd has been left with a €1m costs bill after one leg of its long-running legal battle over the Corrib gas line came to an end yesterday.

The High Court allowed Shell E&P Ireland to end its legal action against four opponents of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline, but only on certain conditions.

These include that the company pay most of the legal costs of four Rossport residents, estimated at over €1m. However, counterclaims by some residents against the company and the State, which challenge the validity of ministerial consents for the pipeline, are to continue.

The court is also to consider whether the residents are entitled to seek damages against Shell over what they allege was an improperly obtained April 2005 injunction restraining interference with the pipeline route.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy yesterday delivered her reserved judgment on a number of applications related to the legal row over the pipeline, including an application by Shell to discontinue its action against four Rossport residents - Philip McGrath, James Brendan Philbin, Willie Corduff and Brid McGarry.

Shell had asked that its proceedings be discontinued without having to meet the legal costs of the four residents or, alternatively, that the costs issues be reserved to the trial of the residents' counterclaims.

The judge said she unreservedly condemned the behaviour of Mr McGrath, Mr Philbin and Mr Corduff in refusing to purge their contempt after being jailed for 94 days in 2005 for refusing to obey court orders restraining interference with the pipeline.

However, Shell was effectively asking the court not to grant costs to the residents as punishment for this contempt, she added.

Ann O'Loughlin
Irish Independent

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