Twitter: Application to remove to the High Court defeated
KRW Law acts for a Plaintiff in proceedings against Twitter for breaches of data protection rights and libel. The claim arises as a result of a refusal by Twitter to remove comments, posted by a notable Twitter user which called the reputation of the Plaintiff into question. The Plaintiff was identified by name and a photograph of appeared alongside.
The Plaintiff had issued proceedings against Twitter in the County Court, however Twitter promptly applied for the case to be removed to the High Court. If successful, this would have greatly increased the legal costs for both parties. That application was heard before Master Bell on Monday 30th January 2023.
Twitter argued that given the complexity of the relevant retained EU law, The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, it was more appropriate for the case to be heard in the High Court. Twitter also highlighted that a social media company had never been sued in the County Court in Northern Ireland before, and that the usual forum for data protection claims was the High Court.
The Plaintiff, represented by Paul Wilson BL, submitted that the nature of the case made it suitable for the County Court; and that social media companies should not be precluded from being sued in the County Court, given that the majority of their consumers are private individuals. It was also advanced that whilst the e-Commerce Regulation had required significant analysis by the High Court and Court of Appeal in previous cases, the case-law is now well-established and the County Court is readily able to apply the law.
Commenting that social media is now a normal part of life, the Master ultimately refused Twitter’s application and the matter will proceed in the County Court as intended.
Significance – This opens the door to members of the public being able to sue social media giants in the more cost efficient arena of the County Court rather than taking on social media giants with the threat of high court costs looming. This is yet to happen in the UK.