FRIST learnt today that the Judicial Review application by the IOS Steamship Group is being allowed to proceed to a full hearing. All applications for Judicial Review are screened by a judge to weed out cases that are deemed to have no prospect of success at all.
FRIST’s position on the matter of the IOSSG’s request for Judicial Review is as follows:
FRIST is appalled at the obvious attempts by the Steamship Company to use the Judicial Review process to further what are obviously commercial and anti-competitive arguments. They argue for example that there are not enough passengers to sustain a helicopter service. That has nothing to do with the planning application for a heliport at Penzance.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company is in no position to criticise a potential competitor on what are clearly delaying tactics to further their own monopoly. The Islands, the island community and their visitors deserve better! They need choice and they need some competition and alternatives in getting to and from the Islands. FRIST believes that the planning process followed by Cornwall Council was correct and should stand rather than be challenged on spurious legal grounds that could delay the helicopter service for years. What is good for IOSSG is not necessarily good for the Islands.
Judicial Review is an expensive and time consuming process. If the application fails at the first hurdle then costs are usually limited to a few thousand pounds. Once you are into a full JR hearing the costs are usually £50,000 +. With a monopoly to protect then the commercial calculation could well be that the legal costs are entirely justifiable and the reputational damage largely irrelevant because with a monopoly on an essential service the customers have no alternative choice of transport provider. It is however a course of action which challenges the Government’s Competition and Markets Authority to intervene to protect the public interest so it is not a course of action without risk to IOSSG shareholders.