3

I, a citizen and resident of the EU, wrote a biography of a British citizen who resides in England, and I published it on a popular online encyclopedia hosted in the United States. The subject of the article has credibly expressed an intention to sue me for libel over the article and has implied that this suit would be brought in an English court.

I'm not looking for an opinion on the legal merits of the case, nor advice on what I should do. I'm just curious about the general legal rules and procedures that would be involved in this sort of scenario and how I can expect these procedures to unfold. In particular:

  • Can the subject actually sue me in England, or is it possible to sue only in the EU country I posted the article from, or in the US where the article is actually hosted?
  • If the subject can and does sue in England, what happens exactly? Am I correct in presuming that I will be notified of this by mail and asked to enter a defence? If so, what happens if I ignore the matter? Will a default judgment against me necessarily be entered, or will the court duly consider the plaintiff's case, perform the bare minimum investigation/reasoning necessary to determine which arguments of theirs are (un)sound, and so possibly rule in my favour?
  • If I do choose to respond, can I hire an England-based lawyer to handle everything remotely, or can I be compelled to physically attend the court in England?
  • If the court rules for the plaintiff and awards damages, can this judgment be enforced in the EU, or would it apply only in the UK?
  • If the court rules in my favour, would I recoup my legal fees?
6

Can the subject actually sue me in England, or is it possible to sue only in the EU country I posted the article from, or in the US where the article is actually hosted?

Yes.

If the online encyclopedia is available in the UK, then you have libelled them in the UK and, indeed, in every country where it is available. They can choose to sue in and under the laws of any country where they were libelled.

If the subject can and does sue in England, what happens exactly?

This is laid out in the Civil Procedure Rules

Am I correct in presuming that I will be notified of this by mail and asked to enter a defence?

You will definitely need to be served with the Particulars of Claim, however, this may come by other methods than snail mail.

If so, what happens if I ignore the matter?

Will a default judgment against me necessarily be entered, or will the court duly consider the plaintiff's case, perform the bare minimum investigation/reasoning necessary to determine which arguments of theirs are (un)sound, and so possibly rule in my favour?

A default judgement will be entered providing the Particulars of Claim show a cause of action on its face. The court will not examine any evidence or enquire into the veracity of the statements made on the Particulars of Claim. In short, unless the plaintiff has ballsed something up - you lose.

If I do choose to respond, can I hire an England-based lawyer to handle everything remotely, or can I be compelled to physically attend the court in England?

You are generally not required to attend court in a civil matter unless you need to testify. Even then, arrangements can be made for remote testimony.

If the court rules for the plaintiff and awards damages, can this judgment be enforced in the EU, or would it apply only in the UK?

It can be enforced in the EU. As a courtesy or by treaty, domestic jurisdictions will enforce foreign judgements in most cases.

If the court rules in my favour, would I recoup my legal fees?

You will probably recoup some but not all of your legal fees, say 50-60%. Costs orders are complicated - talk to your lawyer.

  • It may be different for countries, but that's at least different from how the US handles jurisdiction for libel across state lines, requiring more than just the availability of the site and injury to the plaintiff in that state in order to find jurisdiction: chicagobusinesslawfirm.com/… – Ryan M Nov 19 '20 at 4:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.