Friday, March 16, 2012

Coleman v. MGN - jurisdiction in internet defamation cases

The Supreme Court yesterday gave a decision on internet defamation in Coleman v. Mirror Group Newspapers, where it held that the Irish courts had no jurisdiction in relation to a photograph said to have been published on the Mirror website in 2003. The judgment turns for the most part on deficiencies in pleading rather than on the substantive law so is of little precedential value, but it does highlight the fact that the courts will not rely on "presumed" publication in this jurisdiction - there must be evidence that online material was actually read by a person within the jurisdiction in order for a defamation claim to be brought:
First, there is no pleading that the publication alleged of the relevant articles is by internet publication of the relevant newspaper. Nor could such a pleading be inferred from the words of the Statement of Claim. Secondly, there is a need for evidence of publication to establish the tort of defamation. There is no evidence before the Court that the Daily Mirror was published on line in 2003. There is no evidence that the daily edition of the Daily Mirror was on the world wide web in 2003. Thirdly, there is no evidence of any hits on any such site in this jurisdiction. These are fatal flaws in the plaintiff’s case.
Compare the similar decision in USA Rugby v. Calhoun.

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