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Court will not accept jurisdiction for internet libel where there is no evidence of readership in England

The majority of internet publications can be viewed from anywhere in the world, and therefore the possibility exists for people to bring libel proceedings in the English High Court for defamatory content originally published on the other side of the globe.  This is a potentially attractive option where the home of the original publication is subject to libel laws that lean more favourably towards freedom of expression, such as the United states.  such shopping around has become known as ˜libel tourism.  It is made all the more likely by the fact that most major print publications now republish their articles in their online editions.  However, the Court has repeatedly made it clear that the mere fact of online publication will not be accepted as proof of a ˜real and substantial tort having been committed in the UK.  In the recent case of Paul Carr v David James Penman [2013] EWHC 2679 (QB), the Defendant successfully applied for a declaration that it would not be appropriate for the Court to accept jurisdiction to hear the claim.   The articles in question were originally published in Australia.  Whilst there had been a link to one of the articles on a UK site, there was no evidence before the Court that either article had been read by people in England.  Even where there is some evidence of readership in England, a claim might still be liable to strike out if the Court does not consider the extent of that readership to be substantial, in which case the claim would fall foul of the rule in Jameel v Dow Jones [2005] EWCA Civ 75 as being ˜not worth the candle.     


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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.