Court rejects Google libel case over lack of jurisdiction

The High Court has thrown out a libel action being brought against Google over comments posted on a blog on the grounds that there was no jurisdiction to try the claim.

Former Conservative councillor Payam Tamiz, who appeared as a litigant in person, launched his complaint after allegedly defamatory comments were posted on a blog written about him.

Google, for which 1 Brick Court’s Catrin Evans appeared instructed by RPC partner Jaron Lewis, contended that Google Inc is not a publisher for the purposes of the English law of defamation and therefore there were no grounds to bring the claim.

Mr Justice Eady upheld the argument stating that Google Inc was not regarded by the court as a publisher under the established principles of the common law.

Evans told the court that Google Inc had no way of knowing whether the comments complained of were true or not and that it could not be reasonably be expected to investigate and determine the truth or falsity of allegations made by bloggers.

Eady J stated: “The important question, in the present context, would appear to be, not whether Mr Tamiz can identify the authors or bloggers in question, still less whether they are worth powder and shot, but rather whether he is in a position to establish against Google Inc the necessary attributes of a publisher in accordance with common law principles.”