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This is a real scenario I witnessed. But for the sake of anonymity, I will not specify any names.


Suppose the following entities:

  • X is the company that provides a service. It is based in country C1.
  • Y is a consumer of the service. They live in country C2.
  • Z is another consumer of the service. They live in country C3.

Y and Z are both using the same service, which has specific terms to respect, such as respecting your fellow members of the service.

And then the following happens:

  • Z, by twisting the "free will of speech" rule, allow themself to post profanities and bully the other members.
  • Y reports that behaviour, since the terms of the service specifies that it's forbidden. But alas, nothing is done, so they decide to take screenshots and post it publicly.
  • Z reports Y for "naming and shaming", and Y gets banned for that. Meanwhile, Z can keep posting profanities.

Which means there are 2 things here:

  • Z is not respecting the terms of the service that X is providing.
  • X is not fully enforcing their own terms where they say that you should respect each others.

If Y wanted to take legal action against either X or Z, which they only know online, in which country should it happen?

  • Country C2 because that's where the victim (Y) is living.
  • Country C3 because that's where the offender (Z) is living.
  • Country C1 because that's the country where the company providing the service is legally settled.
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  • Does Y have a contract with X, or perhaps with a C2 representative of X? If so, it might be C2 if Y sues X. Did Z violate hate speech laws of C3? Then Y might be able to refer the case to the state prosecutors of C3. – o.m. Nov 28 '20 at 16:53
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Y chooses

Because the situation engages multiple jurisdictions, the plaintiff choose which to initiate their action in. Considerations involve convenience and which laws most favour their case - for example, no one pursues a defamation case in the USA if they have any other choice because of the USA’s outlier views on free speech.

The defendant can argue that the plaintiff chose the wrong jurisdiction and the court should dismiss the case and tell the plaintiff to file in the right jurisdiction. Whether there is a contract and if that contract contains choice of law or choice of venue are factors but not necessarily determinative ones.

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