Dec 082009
 December 8, 2009  Posted by  Court, Online reports on a libel case in the U.K. that may be of interest to U.S. readers also, as it demonstrates the contrast between our libel laws and the U.K.’s. Over here, the CDA Section 230 protects online publishers from liability for comments made by third parties. In the U.K., the newspaper successfully invoked their E-Commerce Regulations, which seems to give them similar immunity, but only if they remove the material once they are made aware of a problem:

A newspaper publisher was not liable for user comments posted after an online article and will not have to pay out libel damages, the High Court has ruled.

The Court upheld the publisher’s right under the E-Commerce Regulations not to be responsible for user comments until informed of them. Newsquest also defeated a libel claim in relation to the article itself.

The article concerned Imran Karim, a struck-off solicitor, his sister and his mother. Headlined ‘Crooked solicitors spent client money on a Rolex, loose women and drink’, it reported a Law Society hearing at which Karim was barred from practising as a solicitor because he stole £868,000 of clients’ money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Read more about the case, the court opinion, and the U.K. regulations on

  One Response to “Newspaper thwarts libel claim with E-Commerce Regulations defence”

  1. The UK law is very reasonable;e. The Immunity given by the CDA section 230 allows heartless ISPs to turn a blind eye to the plight of libel victims.

    Anonymous free speech is a wonderful privilege and should be preserved at all costs, however like all good things is subject to abuse. The accessibility and efficiency of anonymous blogging technologies has caused this good thing to be abused in terrible ways.

    I personally had my career, business, relationships, and job prospects utterly devastated by a relentless and malicious anonymous blogger. Although I have positively identified the individual, (who has been recently jailed for other charges and is awaiting trial in two states), the legacy of destruction persists. Thankfully I was able to turn adversity into opportunity and now earn an honest living assisting other victims of Internet libel; most people are not so fortunate.

    I am passionately committed to improving community awareness of this problem. I like to use the following analogy to help “future victims” of Internet libel understand the anguish and destruction that comes with this 21st Century pandemic:

    Imagine if you will a farmer who has had his or her livestock destroyed and barns and fields burned by a vandal; the devastating effect on his or her livelihood does not take Einstein to imagine. Whereas, a white-collar worker, fashion model or other intangible service provider who relies on his or her reputation to find new business, and for that matter keep existing business, can be as utterly destroyed as thoroughly as the farmer described above as a result of an effective internet smear campaign. The difference being that the community and judges can more easily relate to the farmer’s calamity.

    An inherent weakness of anonymity is that it has less credibility when considered by intelligent and objective readers. Notwithstanding, there is a new dynamic with this problem of malicious anonymous blogging. Although the assertions and allegations may lack credibility, when it comes to the victim being considered for employment or contract awards, the person carrying out due diligence needs to look at the risks associated with attaching themselves to the victim. Although they may see through the diatribe, the decision maker needs to consider what their customers will think if they are not so sophisticated or objective.

    Respectfully submitted, Michael Roberts. (Anonymous blogger bounty hunter)
    — Michael Roberts Internet libel victim’s advocate

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