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R (EASYJET) V CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY & GATWICK AIRPORT LIMITED

On 15 December 2009, the Court of Appeal (Dyson LJ, Maurice Kay LJ and Rimer LJ) dismissed an appeal by easyJet against the refusal of its claim for judicial review.

easyJet’s challenge was against the level of the price cap set by the Civil Aviation Authority for airport charges levied by Gatwick Airport Limited, the airport operator, on airlines and other airport users.  easyJet claimed that the CAA had acted unfairly when estimating Gatwick’s expenditure on security measures, by obtaining further information from Gatwick after the stated deadline for representations, and without giving airlines an opportunity to comment on that information. 

The challenge was rejected by Collins J at first instance and his decision has now been upheld by the Court of Appeal.  Dyson LJ held that the airlines were content to leave the process of scrutinising Gatwick’s costs to the CAA and so the lack of an opportunity to make a further contribution did not amount to unfairness.  Maurice Kay LJ emphasised that price regulation was toward the “soft” end of the spectrum in terms of what fairness demanded (as distinct from decisions affecting personal liberty or a person’s home).

Read the full text of the Court of Appeal judgment.

Thomas Sharpe QC and Conall Patton (instructed by Herbert Smith LLP) acted for Gatwick Airport Limited in opposing easyJet’s challenge.