Defamation and the Internet

Defamation and the Internet Update

Recently the High Court granted a pre trial injunction directing that the website rate your solicitor.com be taken down pending trial in the case of Tansey v. Gill. At hearing Judge Peart granted mandatory injunctions effectively terminating the operation of the website .

It is clear from this judgment that although the Courts are traditionally hesitant to grant pre trial injunctions, they are becoming more common place. Judge Peart stated that “life has changed… since the arrival of the internet”.

He further commented that the internet has facilitated an “easy, inexpensive and instant” means of allowing “unscrupulous persons or ill-motivated malcontents” to vent their anger and grievances against people where their allegations are patently untrue, unreasonable and unjustified”.

He said, “so serious is the mischief” on the internet that he believed the Oireachtas “should be asked to consider the creation of an appropriate offence under criminal law, with a penalty upon conviction, to act as a real deterrent to the perpetrator”.

He drew a distinction between the traditional defamation cases where the publishers were identifiable easily and anonymous defamation on the internet.

Similar cases are extremely commonplace in the US and the Courts here are increasing having to use their powers in relation to granting injunctions to control websites such as online market operators, auction sites and music download websites in relation to copyright and trademark infringement.

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