9 May 2011

Long Arm Jurisdiction: Long Enough To Cross The Atlantic?

Image by Jim Linood on Flickr

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Imagine you live in the United States and write a blog, compose articles for Wikipedia and contribute for the forum of an online newspaper. You are a really engaged author, but some of your materials happen to defame an individual who lives in the United Kingdom. He is upset and threatens you with a lawsuit, unless you cease writing about him.

Will you comply or will you feel safe being fenced by approximately 9 000 kilometers and at least one different jurisdiction?

Well, if you say that you will rather feel safe, then you should definitely

Read This Post To The End

Why? Because the English High Court held that Mr Louis Bacon was entitled to serve Automatic (the company that runs WordPress), the Wikimedia Foundation (needless to introduce them) and a newspaper based in Denver with so-called Norwich Pharmacal orders (NPO).

The online platforms made available by above entities had been used by the defendants in suit who had published statements, which in the judgment of Mr Justice Tugendhat “passed the threshold of being a good arguable case in defamation”.
The identity of the defendants could yet not be determined.
Now Automatic, the Wikimedia Foundation and the Denver Post will be served with NPO and will have to disclose log details and IP address information and thus support claimant to identify the defendants.

Do you still feel safe?

In fact, Mr Justice Tugendhat has acknowledged the difficulty of the question that had been referred to him.
Nevertheless, he has made great efforts to cite all the authority that supports his holding.

Hence, what is the message to writers of publicly accessible statements that are likely to be considered defamatory?

First, make your research. No matter how harmful your writings are, you cannot be pursued for defamation once you can prove that your contentions are true.
Second, learn about defamation or ask for professional advice in order to determine the border line between being critical or defamatory, and
Third, be careful in choosing the subject of your criticism, because it turns out that English (or other countries’) courts may rely upon a

Long Arm Jurisdiction

reaching across the Atlantic or maybe even farther.

How do you feel about your safety now?