14 February 2018
These three recent appeals in the Court of Appeal concern three defamation claims against Google. The Plaintiffs sue Google as an Internet search engine, the owner/operator of a blog and the owner/operator of an Internet discussion forum respectively. Google is a US corporation, and the Plaintiffs obtained leave to serve the writ on Google outside Hong Kong. In dismissing Google's appeals against the Judge's refusal to set aside service of the writ outside the jurisdiction, the Court of Appeal applied the test of whether "a real and substantial tort has been committed within the jurisdiction" (Jameel (Yousel) v Dow Jones & Co Inc  QB 946). Based on that test, the Court of Appeal held that the Plaintiffs have provided evidence of substantial publication in the form of "Average Monthly Searches" of a key word, which was obtained from Google's own search tool called "Google AdWords", and that the court is entitled to draw inference of substantial publication within the jurisdiction in the circumstances of the case.
The judgement of the Court of Appeal was given by Mr Justice Cheung JA, with whom Madam Justices Yuen and Kwan JJA agreed.
Lawrence K F Ng (with Robert Whitehead SC) represented the Plaintiffs/Respondents in the Court of Appeal.
Please click here to see the full judgement.