A judge has ordered Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l) to pay some of the legal costs of its former chief operations officer, Peter Bellew, incurred while fighting the carrier’s failed efforts to block his move to easyJet (U2, London Luton), The Irish Times has reported.

As previously reported, on December 23, after an eight-day hearing, the Irish High Court rejected Ryanair's attempt to force Bellew to comply with a 12-month non-compete clause, ruling that it was unenforceable. Bellew has denied he was bound by the covenant and is preparing to start work at easyJet having completed a six-month notice period of his resignation from Ryanair in July 2019.

Arising out of Justice Senan Allen's ruling, Bellew’s lawyers sought an order for Ryanair to pay his legal costs. Ryanair responded that Bellew had been unsuccessful in parts of his defence and that both sides should pay their own costs.

The prolonged trial had been fought “tooth and nail by both sides”, which “both sides now agree took much longer than it might have”, Justice Allen said. This was because Bellew had raised issues about his treatment by Ryanair and had made claims about his exclusion from a share option scheme.

The judge said that while Bellew had lost on these “two significant and costly battles”, he had “won the war”. It was unfair, he ruled, to order Ryanair to pay all of Bellew’s legal costs for the eight days spent at trial but said he was satisfied that justice would be met by the company paying his costs for two of the eight days.