In a judgment handed down in January, the English High Court Media and Communications List ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear a libel claim in connection with the disputed identity of “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the pseudonym used by the founder of Bitcoin.
Craig Wright, a computer scientist, was the claimant. Mr Wright has long claimed that he is the creator of Bitcoin. He is suing Norwegian Magnus Granath, who tweets on various technology issues, including cryptocurrencies.
The English judgment states that a libel dispute arose when Mr Granath posted an anonymous tweet using his Twitter handle that stated: “The forensics to CSW’s first attempt to fraudulently ‘prove’ he is Satoshi. Enabled by @gavinandresen. Never forget. @CraigWrightIsAFraud.” Mr Wright is claiming that the tweet defames him.
Before libel proceedings were issued in England by Mr Wright, Mr Granath brought a claim in the District Court of Oslo seeking negative declaratory relief to the effect that he is not liable to pay damages for libel in connection with his publication of the tweet.
As a consequence of the above, last month, applying Article 27 of the Lugano Convention 2007 (which regulates jurisdiction over civil cases as between EU member states and European Free Trade Association states), the English court judgment ruled that:
- the proceedings issued in Norway involved the same cause of action as the English claim;
- Norway was the “court first seised”; and
- as such, Article 27 of the Lugano Convention requires that the English court takes the proceedings no further.
This case illustrates that although we live in an era where social media posts reach a global audience, clear and rigid jurisdictional guidelines are followed by the English Media and Communications Court in relation to how social media defamation claims are processed.
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