Wednesday 17 January 2018

Google, YouTube and Facebook granted appeals against injunctions requiring removal of online video falsely accusing student of evading taxi fare'

Eoin McKeogh
Eoin McKeogh

Tim Healy

Appeals by Google, YouTube and Facebook Ireland have been granted by the Supreme Court, on consent, against injunctions requiring them to permanently remove a Youtube video clip falsely accused a student of evading a taxi fare in Dublin when he was in Japan.

When the appeals were mentioned today, Luán O Braonáin SC, for the student, Eoin McKeogh, said matters had settled and he was asking the court to allow the appeals by consent and strike out the proceedings.

Michael Howard SC, for Google and YouTube, and Rossa Fanning BL, for Facebook Ireland, agreed.

The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, made the agreed orders.

The appeals raised important issues concerning whether internet hosting sites may be sued over defamatory material posted on them and whether the companies had a responsibility to monitor their sites for such material.

The three Internet giants appealed an interlocutory injunction (an order applying until the hearing of full legal proceedings) requiring them permanently remove the YouTube video clip. That injunction was granted by the High Court in 2013 but a stay applied pending the outcome of the appeals. Interim orders preventing republishing of the material also remained in place pending the appeals.

Mr Justice Michael Peart made the interlocutory orders on foot of his earlier finding the video was defamatory as Mr McKeogh was not the person in it.

Mr McKeogh's full action for damages arising from the internet clip, also on hold pending the companies' appeals, will not now proceed given the allowing of the appeals.

Last year, Mr McKeogh withdrew separate Supreme Court appeals against costs orders made in favour of various newspapers after losing an application for anoynmity in media reports of his case. The appeals were withdrawn on consent and on terms including consent of the various media outlets not to execute the costs orders.

He also withdrew other proceedings over alleged libel against two media outlets, Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd and Examiner Publications (Cork) Ltd.

A separate High Court dispute over liability for costs incurred by solicitor Paul Lambert when acting for Mr McKeogh has yet to be resolved. Mr Lambert is claiming some €1.9m legal costs from Mr McKeogh and his parents, Eamon and Fidelma McKeogh.

The parents deny they were ever clients of Mr Lambert, the principal and sole member of Merrion Legal solicitors, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin. He was struck off the roll of solicitors last July over failure to honour his firm's undertaking to provide security for a €450,00 loan advanced to him by ICS Building Society in 2006 to buy an investment property in Howth.

The parents have appealed a High Court decision to refer costs issues to a High Court Taxing Master for a decision on the exact amount to be paid prior to a determination of liability for those.

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