Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Change of venue

With the issue of Internet defamation back in the news in Ireland (and likely not going away any time soon even with Bertie's resignation), the Financial Times makes an interesting observation about the problem of libel tourism/forum shopping in English courts: that even if English law restricted libel cases that are based on very marginal jurisdiction claims, all the action might just shift to Ireland --

Other jurisdictions are accused of providing even readier forums for roving defamation claimants. Both Ireland and Northern Ireland have become hotbeds of libel litigation, due in part to the high payouts available

Paul Tweed, an Irish libel lawyer who has acted for singers Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, says he has US celebrity clients who "just want an apology" they cannot secure at home. This raises the question of whether libel tourism is partly sustained by the US stance of making it almost impossible for public figures to sue successfully - even when they have legitimate grievances.

So, despite the new act in New York, libel judgments in countries with tight rules are likely to continue echoing around the world. They are a chastening reminder to writers that the ease of electronic publication and retailing has made defamation a global business. As Ms Tyler, Mr Akhmetov's lawyer, puts it: "It's no longer your news stand that contains the libel. It's accessible everywhere internationally."

It's not like Irish solicitors need the work.

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