Jurisdiction in internet libel cases possible for several Member States’ courts under certain conditions: AG Hogan’s Opinion in Gtflix
The Court of Justice has been advised by Advocate General Hogan in the context of a case of libel on the internet and determination of where the damage occurred. In his Opinion issued today, his proposal is for it to rule that the courts in each Member State where content published online is or was accessible have jurisdiction under Article 7(2) of Jurisdiction Regulation 1215/2012.
He has however added that there are limitations to that view: multiple jurisdiction would only apply if an ‘appreciable’ number of consumers are likely to have access to and understand the publication in question – Gtflix Tv v DR (C‑251/20), and moreover, each court should only consider damage caused in its respective territory.
The dispute that forms the subject of the main proceedings is between Gtflix Tv, an adult entertainment company and DR, a director, producer and distributor of pornographic films, and in those proceedings compensation is sought for allegedly derogatory statements made by DR on several websites and forums.
Advocate General’s reasoning
The Advocate General, in coming to his conclusion, considered the modern technological advances that entail harm from prejudicial online content occurring in various jurisdictions due to the global nature of the internet, whilst also taking into account the aims of the EU’s jurisdiction rules which aim to provide legal certainty, foreseeability, and simplicity (through avoiding multiple fora) in cross-border proceedings.
He attaches weight to the reasoning of Advocate General Bobek in Bolagsupplysningen arguing against the mosaic approach applied to the Court of Justice to similar internet-jurisdiction cases, and recognises the problems inherent in that approach – but is reluctant to suggest the Court overrule its earlier precedent, stating that he is ‘unpersuaded that the post-Shevill case-law should suffer a reversal in this manner’ and considering a balance with the principle of sound administration. (See points 59 to 66 and further for his more detailed reasoning concerning the maintenance of the mosaic approach.)
He eventually decides, however, that ‘the present case is not the right one for the Court to take a position on whether or not the mosaic approach should be maintained, refined or even abandoned’.
Read the Opinion here.
An Analysis by Emma Roberts on the Opinion will be published on EU Law Live soon.