Tuesday 21 November 2017

Quinn company seeking injunction against Facebook 'like taking legal action against brick wall holding up poster', High Court hears

Facebook. Photo: PA
Facebook. Photo: PA

SEEKING an injunction requiring Facebook to remove one of its pages is like taking legal action against a brick wall holding up an advertising poster, the High Court heard.

Rossa Fanning BL, for Facebook, made the analogy when opposing an application by a company once run by businessman Sean Quinn for orders removing a Facebook page with alleged defamatory posts and identifying who is behind them.

"The application against Facebook is just wrong in law," Mr Fanning said.

"If somebody was putting up a film poster on a board, it would be like seeking an injunction against the wall", he said.

Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), and its chief executive Liam McCaffrey, are seeking the orders against Facebook Ireland requiring the removal of the material put up by "Concerned Irish Citizens", a group which says it supports lawful efforts to get the Quinn family back in control of company operations.

QIL and Mr McCaffrey, was last Friday given permission to serve notice of its proceedings on Facebook and the matter returned to court today.

Michael Binchy BL, for the plaintiffs, said there was still defamatory material on the Facebook site.

Mr Fanning said Mr Binchy knew full well who the people posting this information was and it was part of a much broader dispute.  Facebook should not be drawn into it, he said.

This was essentially a prior restraint application for which there was EU and national law saying it was impermissible, he said.  There were

billions of Facebook postings and there was no way his client could possibly screen them all.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan adjourned the matter until tomorrow for a date for the hearing of the injunction application to be fixed. He said a possible simple solution could be if Facebook was to tell the plaintiffs the identity of those posting the material.

The judge also commented he was aware there were "serious legal issues in the background".

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