Jumbo rental firm challenges noise rules

Roger Pearson reports on a jet leasing company's bid to overturn EuropeanCommission

regulations in the High Court.The High Court has paved the way for a legal challenge to

new ECregulations aimed at reducing noise and gas emissions from aircraft.Council

Regulation (EC) No 925/199 came into force on 8 May this year, butis not due to be put

into effect until next May.Consultations are already under way over whether it should

ever becomeeffective.And Mr Justice Maurice Kay has granted aircraft maintenance company

OmegaAir leave to mount a challenge in the High Court to the new rules.Omega, which

buys, modifies and leases ageing Boeing 707s, claims theregulations will put its

business in jeopardy.The company claims that it is already suffering adverse effects

eventhough the ruling is not yet effective.It claims that the regulation breaches the

general principles ofnon-discrimination and protection of legitimate expectation.Omega

also claims the regulation infringes the General Agreement onTariffs and Trade and the

Chicago Convention.In granting the company leave in the case of R v Secretary of State

forthe Environment, Transport and Regions ex parte Omega Air Ltd, to seekjudicial review

of the regulation, Mr Justice Maurice Kay said that atfirst sight the notion of such a

review in the UK courts was an oddity asonly the European Court of Justice had power to

annul EU legislation.However, he said Omega was seeking judicial review here as a means

ofpersuading the High Court to refer the issues of validity to the Court ofJustice.While

he said he questioned the appropriateness of such an approach he wassatisfied that Omega

had an "arguable case" which was appropriate for fullconsideration by the High Court.He

said it was possible that at the full hearing the Secretary of State'sarguments would

succeed but he did not consider that was reason to refuseto allow Omega's case to

proceed.He said that because of its importance the case should be heard as soon

aspossible after the start of the next legal term in October.