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Judgment reserved in Shell contempt case

Mary Carolan - Irish Times

THE HIGH Court yesterday reserved judgment on whether a District Court judge was correct to find Shell E & P Ireland acted in contempt of court orders when it went onto commonage lands at Rossport, Co Mayo, two years ago to carry out site investigations.

The commonage is on the modified route for the Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, yesterday reserved his decision on legal issues referred to the court by District Court Judge Mary Devins arising from her September 2009 contempt finding against Shell over its entry onto commonage lands in July and August 2008.

Denis McDonald SC, for Shell, argued that it had not acted in contempt as, when the contempt finding was made, it had purchased a share in the commonage lands making it a co-owner.

The November 2007 order of Judge Devins’s restraining entry onto the commonage unless in accordance with the Gas Act 1976 did not prohibit all entry onto the land and the District Court had no jurisdiction to make such a prohibitory order, he submitted.

John Rogers SC, for Rossport South resident Monica Muller, said yesterday that Judge Devins had jurisdiction under the Gas Act to make the 2007 order prohibiting entry onto the commonage unless there was compliance with the Act.

Shell should not have entered onto the lands for the purpose of carrying out tests without having first applied to Judge Devins to vacate her order and had breached that order, said Mr Rogers.