Cyprus: Cyber Libel or Defamation committed through the Internet and jurisdiction of Cypriot Courts
We live in a society where people fought to secure their right of freedom of expression. But what will happen if such right is being used in an abusive way? It is well recognised that the Internet is a navigation engine where an individual may post, in many ways, his own articles in order to express his opinion or his belief in a relation to a specific matter. Consequently, it could be argued, that because of this extensive right given to the individuals by this high-end navigation engine, the volume of the Cyber Libel cases has been enlarged.
The issue which Courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate on Libel or Defamation cases committed though Internet has been examined by the European Court of Justice and such decisions have binding effect on all courts of EU Member States, including Cyprus.
The leading case on the subject is Shevill Vs. Presse Alliance SA (Case C-68/93)  of the European Court of Justice. In that specific case, it was held that a victim of a libel may bring an action for damages against the wrongdoer either before the courts of the State where the publisher of such defamatory publication is established or before any other State in which the publication is distributed and caused damage to the reputation of the victim.
However, when the Shevill case was issued, the Internet did not exist yet.
Because of the rapid development of the technology, it is clearly noticeable that most of the hard copy features of newspapers, books etc. have been replaced with their online Versions. Consequently, nowadays, there is an increasingly high number of Cyber Defamation and/or Libel cases.
In order to adjust the decision of Shevill to the present existing conditions of the society, the European Court of Justice held in the joined cases, namely eDate Advertising (C-509/09) and Martinez Vs. Martinez (C-161/10) dated 25/10/2011 of the European Court of Justice, that when the defamation content is being placed online then, the Claimant can bring an action/claim before the courts of each State from which the content placed online is or has been accessible.
The decision of Shevill has been followed and adopted by the District Court of Ammochostos, in the Cypriot case of Cyber Libel, namely, Christoforos Karayiannas & Sons Ltd Vs. Cornelius Desmond O’ Dwyer [with Claim No. 927/2007], in which it was held that a victim of a libel may bring an action for damages against the wrongdoer either before the courts of the State where the publisher of such defamatory publication is established or before any other State in which the publication is distributed and caused damage to the reputation of the victim.
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