Evony vs blogger
Just a quick one: the Guardian reports that the US company which owns Evony, the (in)famous web-based game, is suing a British blogger (Bruce Everiss) over allegedly libellous comments he made regarding Evony in his blog.
However, Evony is bringing its libel claim aginst Everiss in Australia, rather than in Britain or the US.
The Guardian quotes Evony’s lawyer: “[Everiss’s] actions bring an enormous discredit to all online journalists internationally and have substantially impacted Evony’s reputation in Australia” said the lawyer acting for Evony, Dean Groundwater of Warren McKeown Dickson.
By contrast, it seems that Mr Everiss is arguing that this action is nothing more than libel tourism (the kind of comment which we have heard a lot recently in England as much of the press have attacked English libel law as being too claimant-friendly).
Hello Mr Jurisdictional Challenge!
Unsurprisingly, the first step in the litigation will reportedly be the Court of New South Wales having to be decide whether it has jurisdiction to hear the claim (this could be Evony seeking a declaration that the Court has the proper jurisdiction, or it may be Everiss seeking a declaration that the Court does not). Sounds legalistic perhaps, but it will decide whether or not the litigation will go ahead to consider Evony’s actual complaints.
A very quick and rough summary of libel under English law (which is very similar to Australian law):
A communication is libellous if it is in written form and makes an allegedly factual claim that may in some way harm the image of another person. Generally, that factual claim must be proved to be false and must be published to someone other than the person who is defamed. A person who is libelled has the right to comemence Court proceedings seeking (usually): (i) an apology; (ii) a Court order forbidding further publication of the libel; and (iii) financial damages.
Libel law is a very complex (and high risk) area of law so obviously it is never as simple as the summary above may suggest. There can be very difficult issues for example regarding the standard and burden of proof. Libel is also subject of many defences – in particular, truth is an absolute defence to libel.
Each of these points may have to be fought out between Evony and Everiss in the coming months, so it will be interesting to see how this develops…