Blogging Libel: Davison v Habeeb & Ors [2011]

Davison v Habeeb & Ors [2011] EWHC 3031 (QB)

The claimant had claimed that Google was liable for defamation because they had failed to remove alleged defamatory comments.

The libel case involved Googles blogging site “blogspot”. Davison had complained that Google had contacted a Mr. Eyre who maintained that the allegations were not defamatory. Google then declined to remove the article.

Google said they would only remove the comments if ordered to do so by the court. Google maintained that it operated under the terms of US law and would only take down the material subject to a court decision.

The claimant had obtained an order previously on 20th January 2011, which gave permission to serve Google out of the Jurisdiction. An application was then made to set aside that order on the basis that the court did not have or should not exercise jurisdiction against the 5th defendant.

The judge said no substantial tort had been committed.

It was arguable that google was liable at common law as it could be seen as a publisher and under its contents policy had the right to take it down

However under Regulation 19 of the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 which states that an information provider cannot be liable for content which it does not know is unlawful

“does not have actual knowledge of unlawful activity or information and, where a claim for damages is made, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which it would have been apparent to the service provider that the activity or information was unlawful”

Googles application succeeded as the judge found that conflicting accounts of the parties where such that it was impossible to fix Google with notice, the judgment states “faced with the conflicting claims from the claimant and 2nd defendant between which it was in no position to adjudicate.”

The decision raises the bar higher, internet publishers are always going to say that they cannot adjudicate between the parties..

Next news


Previous news


Suite 205/206 Cotton Exchange
Bixteth Street, Liverpool L3 9LQ

T — 0151 541 2040
T — 0203 846 2862