Grey Thoughts
Law - UK oversteps its bounds
Captain Ed has an entry on the UK and its recent court rulings that essentially give the UK jurisdiction over any material written on the internet, at least with respect to libel cases.
He notes
However, the plaintiff filed her case in Britain because defendants bear the burden of proof in the UK, not the plaintiffs, and it becomes much easier to win large judgments against media outlets.

So the UK Courts have different burdens of proof, and if you fail to respond, they can give a default judgement against you.

Just peachy. Of course, if you somehow wind up in the UK after one of these things, then they could probably grab you or any assets you have in the UK. (Of course, if Australian courts decide to honor the rulings, then things will really hit the fan)

I wonder what the EU constitution says about extradition/siezing of assets for member countries. Is travel to or investment in the EU also going to be a nono if the UK has already found you libel?
Yes, the Brussels I Regulation (EU law) makes judgments of member states of the EU enforceable automatically in all EU countries - so if judgment is entered against you in the United Kingdom, it can be enforced against your assets in any of the 25 countries.
Whilst I agree that there are problems with English libel law (and as a Briton I must declare an interest in this), it's not the case that the burden of proof lies entirely on the defendant. To succeed, the claimant has to prove that the defendant published in England, and that what was published caused harm to his reputation in England. It the claimant can't prove that, he fails. It is then for the defendant to justify publishing defamatory material - which is easy, if he can prove that what he published was true.

All British libel law does is to require people who publish material which defames others to ensure that what they are publishing is true. After all, it would be unacceptable to have to prove malice in a suit for negligent injury - we expect people to take care not to injure others, and to compensate people they do negligently injure, regardless of whether they intended to cause injury. In addition, requiring the claimant to disprove the allegations is unfair, since they may well not be able to, even if the allegations are untrue. The defendant, on the other hand, should only publish if he has convincing evidence of the truth of the defamatory statements - which he can easily put before the court.

English libel law therefore has the effect of preventing unproven defamatory allegations from being published in England, whilst never stopping anyone from publishing the truth.
Thanks for the info. I suspected the EU might have something like that.

The problem with the UK law is that the plaintiff does not have to prove anything, and so the defendent, if not in the UK (say if they were posting on the internet), would have to travel to the UK, at their own expense to prove a claim.

This, on top of the fact that something written in Australia or the US and published here, but accessible via the internet is taken by the UK courts to be in their jurisdiction. So, regardless of whether it was perfectly legal to say something here, if it is illegal in the UK, they claim jurisdiction.

It is just asking for trouble.
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